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Milwaukee sewerage district disregards bidder protest

By Sean Ryan

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District on Monday awarded a $17 million pipeline project despite a builders protest that the contract violates bidding rules.

Joel Kennedy Constructing Corp. was the second-lowest bidder for the MMSD project and filed a protest against the low bid submitted by Meade Electric Co., McCook, Ill. Paul Lubanski, project manager for Joel Kennedy, Waukegan, Ill., said Meade’s original bid did not include a list of small, minority- and women-owned subcontractors for the project.

Rather than the list, Meade’s bid included a letter committing to meeting the MMSD’s 20 percent participation goal for those companies. The district’s decision to let Meade add the missing list after submitting the bid drew the complaint this month from Kennedy.

“Based upon the parameters we’ve seen over the years, a bid such as Meade’s would be rejected,” Lubanski told the MMSD Commission on Monday.

Meade never changed the price of its bid, nor did the contractor ask its subcontractors to change their prices after the district opened the bid, said John Guzik, Meade contract administrator. Meade gave the district a list of its small, minority- and women-owned subcontractors within three days of the bid opening, which is allowed under MMSD bidding rules, Guzik said.

Frank Lizzadro, Meade vice president of utility and pipeline, said the bid is legal.

“We believe in partnerships,” he said. “We want to work together and, like I said, we didn’t shop anybody’s bid.”

Kennedy’s bid commits to a 20.3 percent participation rate for small, minority- and women-owned companies, exceeding the MMSD’s goal. Meade’s bid commits to 18.9 percent.

The MMSD does not require contractors meet the goal in order to win a contract.

Lizzadro said Meade tried to exceed the 20 percent goal and contacted 40 small, minority- and women-owned subcontractors while bidding out the project. The company’s bid commits to hiring eight of those companies, but more could be added during the course of the project, he said.

The MMSD Commission on Monday unanimously accepted Meade’s bid instead of Joel Kennedy’s $20.2 million proposal.

The contract is to build a pipeline to transfer methane gas from the Emerald Park Landfill in Muskego to Milwaukee, where the gas will be burned to power the district’s Jones Island sewer treatment plant.

Lizzadro said Meade’s approach to the MMSD’s project followed common practices for working with public owners.

“I think it’s important,” he said, “that we followed the terms of the bid.”

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