From: Craig Walker
Sent: Wed, May 8, 2013 2:53 pm
Subject: Fwd: UC2B Phase 2.5 – Community Alert !
Ladies and Gentleman of the African American community of Champaign Urbana,
I am writing to you because we have reached a critical point in our efforts to have fair inclusion policies and implementation at the City of Champaign. I first want to disclose I provide consulting services to Power Up in connection with their efforts in the Central Illinois area. I recruited Power Up, an African American owned firm based out of St. Louis because of their strong technical capabilities, $5 million in bonding capacity, and a willingness to work and mentor local smaller minority companies and tradesman. They won the bid on phase 2 of the UC2B project last year and have been working on their contract with local subcontractors Henry Bell and Peter Folk.
Last night the City Council introduced a council bill led by Deb Feinen and staff member Teri Legner to replace Power Up with a white owned firm Western. Below is an email from the President of Power up detailing all of the things the staff and their project manager have not been factual about in their communications with Council. Three key factors stand out :
1. The City never attempted to have a meeting with Power Up to discuss the remaining homes to be wired and the terms and conditions of that wiring as outlined in the Change order described in point #1 in the Power Up email.
2. The City allowed their project manager to berate, curse out and create a hostile work atmosphere with the Power Up employees. This project manager has never worked with a minority prime contractor, was from Bloomington, and was rude, condecending and downright nasty in emails and in person.
3. Power Up completed approximately 1,000 installations at a 91% customer satisfaction rate for $1.4 million. The City has negotiated a no bid change order with Western for the remaining 450 homes for $1.6 million. These homes were part of Power Up’s original bid of up to 1,700 sites but because the City was slow to sign up customers they only had 1,000 sites by the end of the original deadline. Now they get an extension and more money and they want to sweetheart deal it for their friends at Western. More on that later.
I encourage all of you to go the City’s website and watch the tape of last night’s meeting. I spoke on the facts that were misrepresented by the staff to the Council and introduced the concept that while the majority of the Council may be for the policy of inclusion, specific staff members may harbor a culture of racial bias which plays out in the implementation of this policy. Council member Deb Feinen launched into a tirade calling out the Power Up subcontractors, reading the customer complaints out loud and in her own words said ” we are getting one complaint per week” . Well that comes out to 52 complaints per year which on 1,000 installs is a 95% satisfaction rate but as we all know its how you phrase words that carry the real meaning. Wetsern the white company had customer complaints as well. Did Deb Feinen read those out loud? Of course not. Not once did she address the facts as I presented them to Council. Her heart and real feelings about minority particiapation came out in this tirade and reminded me of Jerry Schweighart when he was railing on our young people saying they deserved the harsh treatment from the Police. The only difference this time is it was about contracts and money for our community, same tactics, same power structure just a diffferent frontier.
As our Pastors would say in church, Now watch this! :
Deb Feinen is closely linked to County Clerk Gordy Hulten who orchestrated the Gina Jackson run against Will ( his picture was on her literature) and is a strong supporter of Pam Boroski the Township Supervisor. Both were defeated on April 9th due to another large turnout of African American voters, both were backed by Gordy Hulten. Deb Feinen is the attorney for Gordy Hulten’s political consulting firm Results Plus, and the local GOP and by May 7th she s leading the charge to replace Power Up. Coincidence ? I think not.
Also, last night in attendance of the meeting was an attorney Jim Green who used to sit on the City Council, is a Republican politically connected attorney, and he sat in the whole meeting until the Western Contract issue was posponed and then he left. A politicaly connected attorney does not sit in a council meeting for free. Is he getting paid by Western for this no bid contract or was it just a coincidence and he came to watch as a civi lesson for his daughter? I am betting on getting paid
Money and Power, thats why Power Up is being replaced. The jobs, resources and other intangibles Power Up brought to our community played a role in our ability to achieve another record voter turnout in the African American community and defeat more Republicans all over the City. The $1.6 million that was available for the extension was more than Deb Feinen and her Jerry Schweighart cronies could stomach a black firm receiving so they orchestrated this firing of Pwer Up for their buddies at Western. And because Teri Legner the staff person assigned to UC2B was never in favor of this inclusion plan she joined right in and assisted in this high tech lynching of a black owned firm.
The good news is that 5 members of the City Council voted to postpone the final decision on this matter until next week. In that time more information, data and hopefully Councilmembers with good conscience and fairness will see that allowing Power Up to finish the project, and yes we can call it a second chance. Power Up has a 91% customer approval rating, no data has been presented to dispute that, they went the extra mile to work with and mentor our local contractors, they hired people from the community and invested in our get out the vote effort they completed the 1000 hookups in what was one of the weetest coldest winters we have seen in a long time. The black community of Champaign needs a highly qualified bondable company like Power Up in our midst and if they can be pushed out with strongarm tactics then our local smaller contractors don’t have a chance. They desreve a chance to finish the project and if your read the email they sent to Council below they will save the City 30% on costs as compared to the Western proposal.
I will keep you updated as the events unfold. If you are able, please attend the Council meeting nex week Tuesday to watch how your City Council representatives vote.
Thank you and God Bless,