No-bid contracts have become a hot-button issue in New Britain.
Last week, State Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo asked the Chief State’s Attorney to investigate allegations that Republican Council members and political allies to the mayor received over $240,000 in no-bid contracts. On Monday, the president of the Common Council responded with a call for a special meeting on no-bid contracts.
Mayor Timothy Stewart said he has nothing to do with awarding contracts and called the allegations disgusting. He also said they are political.
“It’s not even true,” Stewart said about allegations about the contracts. “Next thing you know, I am going to be (accused of) attacking little children in the back of school yards,” Stewart said.
The Democratic party brought up jobs Republican Alderman Mark Bernacki’s Sir Speedy Printing Company and Republican Alderman Willie Pabon’s company, New Britain Fence, have done for the city.
Michael Trueworthy, president of the Common Council is calling for a special City Council meeting to discuss putting a temporary freeze on all no-bid contracts awarded to local elected officials, citing a request from the state Democratic party to look into allegations.
Stewart said that before his tenure, bids were only required for contracts above $5,000. Now, bids are required for contracts above $3.000.
That means that any bid over $3,000 needs a formal contract. For jobs under that, the city obtains bids from several companies and gives them a deadline to bid. The lowest bidder gets the contract, Bob Curry, the director of finance for the city, said.
He said the jobs with Sir Speedy date back to 2002 and the city gets informal quotes from 15 area printers. The one with the lowest price gets the bid.
Purchase orders, he added, are signed by purchasing agent and not the mayor’s office, Curry said.
“I certainly hope that everything was done ethically and responsibly but I would hate to discover later that there were additional potential conflicts or serious legal problems discovered by the Chief State’s Attorney,” Trueworthy said.
A message was left with the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office.