ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A longtime critic of the Metropolitan Sewer District is questioning the board awarding $5 million in “no-bid” contracts.
Tom Sullivan says it isn’t right that the consulting contracts for upcoming sewer improvements went to the firm Burns and McDonnell, whose St. Louis office was run for many years by MSD Chairman Robert Berry.
“Well, it’s not illegal and MSD claims it’s competitive,” Sullivan said. “But everyone knows politics plays a big part of it and they’ve had favored firms that they’ve given contracts to for many years.
“I think it certainly gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. I think the issue is, with MSD, they have this huge gravy train that they have for engineers and consultants and the people who are recipients are also the people who turn around and become part of the MSD board.”
MSD spokesman Lance LeComb says the contracts were “competitively ” bid.
“We get multiple bids for each contract,” LeComb said, “We then short-list and then look at whatever the qualifications [are] of those of the short list.”
LeComb also responded to Sullivan’s assertion that conflicts of interest are tainting the contract selection process.
“This is a very apolitical organization,” LeComb said, “Board members are not involved in the selection of consultants or contracts. Staff is responsible for selecting consultants and awarding contracts.”
LeComb says Chairman Berry abstained from the votes involving his former employer.