City Purchasing Official Says Personal Bankruptcies Are Non-Factor In Contracts; City To Push On To Include Start-Up Firm In Major Staffing Contract

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A city purchasing official said Tuesday that whether or not operators of a company wanting to do business have had personal bankruptcies is a non-factor in the selection process.

Bonnie Woodward said no check would have been made on whether Marty and Donna Christian Lowe of the new firm Msi Workforce Solutions had been in bankruptcy. The couple filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and again in 2014. The city of Chattanooga was among those owed money in both bankruptcies.

Maura Sullivan, city chief operating officer, said the administration is pushing forward with a vote next Tuesday to give Msi, which did not get a business license until this past Jan. 15, a share of a $1.8 million per year contract for temporary staffing.

Outsource Staffing, a North Chattanooga firm, has had the sole contract for the past 11 years.

The council earlier voted 7-2 to strike MSI from the resolution and award the three-year contract only to Outsource Staffing. However, Councilman Chip Henderson later asked for a revote that includes Msi.

Ms. Woodward was also asked about the city coming up with a new bid process for the contract that was not just based on price, but on a 100-point scale. She said the departments have the leeway to draw up those bid packets any way they want. In this one, experience and price were a small component.

As a result of that new bid method, the city recommended using both Outsource Staffing and MSI for the lucrative contract.

In an earlier bid that used the normal lowest and best method, the proposal from Msi was thrown out because it said employees would be paid the same rate for overtime as regular hours. Mr. Hall said he pointed out that is illegal to do.

The new City Council vote is set for next Tuesday.

Rusty Hall, owner of Outsource Staffing, said no one from the city told him there would be a revote. He said he read about it in the paper.

He said after the earlier vote he signed a new contract with the city under the understanding his firm would again handle all the city's temporary hiring for another three years. Outsource Staffing has been in business since 1995.

The Lowes have been active in a number of local political campaigns with Ms. Lowe recently handling the unsuccessful re-election effort of Councilman Yusuf Hakeem.

County officials said the Lowes owe the county almost $2,000 for unpaid personalty taxes going back several years. Officials said it relates to equipment at their home in Harrison for a company called IHealthsource.

A family member said Ms. Lowe formerly worked at BlueCross BlueShield, but had been terminated there.

In one of the bankruptcies, the parents of Ms. Lowe had a filing saying she owed them almost $65,000 for the expense of raising her child. 

City purchasing official Bonnie Woodward
City purchasing official Bonnie Woodward

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