It looks like yet another lawsuit against the city of Augusta and its scandal-plagued procurement department will continue.
McKnight Construction is allowing part of the process for construction of a Phinizy Road jail expansion to move forward, while still challenging the award to R.W. Allen and Associates.
McKnight contends the city illegally rejected its bid for the project, which is $2 million lower than the bid from Allen. The city rejected McKnight's bid because it didn't include documents that McKnight says shouldn't even be required until the bid is actually awarded.
And McKnight says if the procurement department wanted to be such sticklers, they also should have rejected Allen's bid because the company failed to include a required list of subcontractors. The total price for this project with Allen's higher winning bid is nearly $27.8 million, so we aren't talking chump change.
Why do we care way out here in Columbia County?
Well, if you remember (and if you don't I'll remind you): We've been here before. Back in 2005, McKnight won the bid for construction of Evans Middle School - but only after school officials allowed some last-minute finagling with the bid process.
See, when McKnight submitted its bid, it failed to include the required list of subcontractors. School board members decided to let the oversight slide when McKnight turned in the list later, and awarded McKnight the bid.
The requirement of a list of subcontractors was questionable anyway, and the decision saved Columbia County taxpayers $59,000. The losing bidder, R.D. Brown Construction, then sued - and lost, when the Georgia Court of Appeals ultimately said local governing bodies have considerable leeway in their ability to waive bid technicalities.
McKnight and Columbia County taxpayers benefited that time around. This time, a technicality is hurting McKnight - and could cost Richmond County taxpayers an extra $2 million because of the higher winning bid, along with any court costs from the suit.
Not that you needed any more evidence of how things just seem to work out a little better here than in Augusta, but there it is.
Speaking of things working out for the better, congratulations to Linda Joesbury, the director of Columbia County's Department of Family and Children Services.
See, a year ago Joesbury was preparing for retirement after 27 years with DFACS, 12 of those in Columbia County. State officials had calculated when Joesbury would be eligible to step down, and local supporters planned a retirement party.
Then a bureaucrat called and more or less said, "Oops. You aren't actually eligible to retire for another year."
That additional year has now passed. Thankfully no state bureaucrat has called back to say the new date is in error, so Joesbury's last day is Thursday.
In celebrating Joesbury's service during a recent county commission meeting, DFACS board chairman J.C. Williams admiringly described Joesbury as "a caring servant leader who goes the extra mile."
And the extra year, too.
Welcome, Tiger Lily
Finally, speaking of extras: We picked up an extra member of the family this past week when my daughters decided to rescue a dog from Columbia County Animal Care and Control.
She's about a year old, appears to be a dachshund mix, and is tiger-striped from head to tail.
Yep. She is one weird-looking dog.
But she seems very sweet. She joins a household with my wife, three daughters, a female cat and an older female dog - and a dad who is outnumbered.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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