Roanoke City Accused of Breaking Law Regarding Procurement Requirements For Roanoke Times’ Building

The Democrat-controlled Roanoke City Council is no stranger to scandal and controversy, but now a new letter has placed Council and the Roanoke City School Board in the spotlight.

At issue is a communication from Matthew Benka, from MDB Strategies, accusing City leaders of using an illegal procurement method regarding the City’s purchase of the Old Roanoke Times building on Campbell Avenue and turning it into the school system’s new administration center. The letter alleges this illegal method costs Roanoke City taxpayers more than would be necessary if legal approaches had been used. As cited here, Roanoke City Council has already been under fire for creating an ever-increasing tax and fee burden for its residents.

Two of the candidates seeking to win the Democrat primary to face Republican David Suetterlein in November, Trish White-Boyd and Luke Priddy, are members of Roanoke City Council.

The email to Mayor Sherman Lea Sr. and School Board Chair Eli Jamison, which was copied to the rest of Roanoke City Council, numerous members of the Virginia General Assembly, the Governor’s Office, as well as Roanoke-area media outlets, reads as follows:

MDB STRATEGIES / LEGISLATIVE & GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS

May 30, 2023

The Honorable Eli C.S. Jamison, Ph.D. Chair, Roanoke City School Board

The Honorable Sherman P. Lea, Sr. Mayor, City of Roanoke

RE: Illegal Procurement & Illegal Award of Procurement — Administration Building on Campbell Avenue Project, RFP 3089

FOIA Request – Administration Building on Campbell Avenue Project, RFP 3089

Chair Jamison & Mayor Lea:

On behalf of the Virginia Contractor Procurement Alliance, an association of state-wide general contractors, I am writing to notify you that the above project does not meet the legal requirements of Chapter 43.1 Code of Virginia Construction Management Contracting to use the Construction Management (CM) method of procurement and therefore this is an illegal procurement.

For these reasons and more outlined in this letter, we request that this procurement be immediately halted and rebid as competitive sealed bid procurement in the best interests of the citizens of the City of Roanoke.

The procurement is illegal as a CM project for each of the followinq reasons:

  • According to S 2.2-4382, the project must meet the “Construction Management (CM) Procedures as Adopted by the Secretary of Administration.” These procedures clearly state under the first sentence of “Criteria and Approval for Use of CM,” that “The Agency shall follow the criteria for the use of CM as set forth in the Chapter and shall be limited to projects with a construction value that is in excess of $26,000,000.” This threshold is the central determining factor in the procedures, as the RCPS project is less than half the cost under the required threshold.
  • The project does not have a level of complexity that satisfies the definition of “Complex Project,” in S 2.2-4379. The complexity of a project is the second most important determining factor in the use of CM which justifies the selection of a bidder based on a non-competitive basis. There is no possibility that the project meets this definition.
  • Of critical importance, in your RFQ 3088 you include sections of Virginia Code regarding CM that are outdated. Please review the current sections of Code which were the law as of the issuance of the RFQ.
  • Section S 2.2-4382 D8 states completely and simply that “Price is a critical basis for award of the contract.”

We respectfully submit the following FOIA requests to both the City of Roanoke and the City of Roanoke Public Schools related to the above procurement subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) pursuant to S 2.2-3700 et seq..

  • We request a copy of any proposals submitted to RCPS.
  • We request the written determination approved by the City Council that competitive sealed biding is not practical or fiscally advantageous.
  • We request all materials RRMM produced to justify the use of CM on this project.
  • We request all submitted Owner’s Evaluation Forms.
  • We request all individual signed and hand written evaluation sheets for each evaluation committee member.
  • We request a copy of RCPS’s Procedures for the Selection, Evaluation, and Award of Design-Build and Construction Management Contract adopted May 10, 2022.

We look forward to you taking immediate action to cancel this procurement and resubmit it as competitive sealed bid project which will provide the lowest cost and best product for the taxpayers of your City.

Thank you and please feel free to contact me at any time.

cc: The Honorable Members, Roanoke City School Board

The Honorable Members, Roanoke City Council

The Honorable Margaret McDermid

The Honorable George Barker

The Honorable Barry Knight

The Honorable Adam Ebbin The Honorable Frank Ruff

The Honorable Jay Leftwich

The Honorable David Bulova

The Honorable Chap Petersen

The Honorable Mark Sickles

The Honorable John Edwards

The Honorable Sam Rasoul

The Honorable Chris Head

The Honorable Terry Austin

The Honorable David Suetterlein

Ali Ahmed, Office of Governor Youngkin

Joe Damico, Department of General Services

RCPS Education Foundation

Roanoke Education Association

Roanoke Times

Roanoke Star News

Roanoke Tribune

Roanoke Rambler

Richmond Times Dispatch

Richmond Free Press

Virginia Mercury

Cardinal News

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