Lafourche Parish Councilman Phillip Gouaux is hopping mad over the way five of his fellow-councilmen handled awarding a contract and he is right to be angry.
The council requested bids from three firms for work on two Community Development Block Grant projects. Two of those firms returned bids, Bordelon, Foreman and Associates in Houma and South Central Planning and Development Commission in Gray.
Bordelon’s bid came in at $33,700 and South Central’s came in at $27,200. That’s a nearly 24 percent difference between the two bids, but the council gave the work to Bordelon.
Both firms agree that either one can do the work. What is at issue here is not the competence of the two companies, but the way in which the council doles out public work.
Clearly, the Parish Council has a duty to the taxpayers of Lafourche Parish to spend their money wisely and only when necessary.
Spending an extra $6,500 on a professional services contract might be understandable if one of the firms were less qualified in some way. Instead, it assessed both firms on a variety of areas – including whether each is owned by a minority or a woman. (Why that quality would make a firm more qualified is unknown.)
Bordelon ended up with a score of 93.1, and South Central got a 90. Bordelon won out on the question of ownership, but South Central had higher scores in the other categories, except education, where the two firms each scored 15 points. On federal bids, companies get points added for advanced degrees. That would have given South Central a score of 95, and Bordelon’s would have remained at 93.1. The parish does not distinguish between undergraduate and graduate degrees.
This whole flap is not the first time the council has run into trouble awarding public contracts.
Within months of taking office, the Council Five fired the local company that had been performing the parish’s yearly audit and hired a higher-priced accounting firm from outside the parish.
Eventually, the council was forced by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office to change firms, hiring the firm that turned in the middle bid.
This council’s battles against good government and common sense are well documented. This seems like just the latest case of the council putting other concerns ahead of the public it was elected to serve.