This isn’t the only piece of the downtown Louisville Arena puzzle that Jim Host has tried to ramrod down our (citizens) throats, but it’s maybe the first time anyone has stood up to the powerful arena czar and won.
As we reported in February, Host’s arena committee awarded a demolition contract to O’Rourke Wrecking for $2.8 million, even though the Cincinnati company’s bid exceeded that of local CRS Demolition by $1.2 million. CRS filed a protest with the state, but it appeared the state was ready to roll over and let Host get his way. Turns out Host had written the bid specs in a way that favored O’Rourke, and Host claimed the CRS bid was not written correctly.
Today’s news is that the state Finance and Administration Cabinet, based on the CRS complaint, has ordered the Arena Authority to issue new bid specs and allow five companies to compete for the business. Those companies will have less than a week to submit new proposals. O’Rourke, which has had personnel on the site preparing for the demolition, will be allowed to continue working through that date.
Let’s give some credit here. Kentucky Finance Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller, though not named in the Courier-Journal’s story, is standing up to Host. He found it was a bit unreasonable for the Arena Committee power brokers to award a bid that was $1.2 million more than a competitor. It must have found that the bid writing engaged in by Host’s folks was suspect.
The result: at worst, O’Rourke may come in with a lower bid and still win the business. Or another of the four companies will be fairly awarded the contract.