It took a while, but Del. Manoli Loupassi has done what his partisan brethren have neglected to do and weighed-in on a portion of the proposed baseball stadium/slavery museum complex:
Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, asked House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, on Tuesday to amend the pending state budget to enforce a state law requiring competitive procurement on local projects that receive state financial aid.
“The state’s law protects an important public policy, that is it ensures that public dollars cannot be spent with favored or chosen individuals,” said Loupassi, a former Richmond City Council president who opposes the mayor’s plan.
Loupassi’s letter, distributed to the mayor and members of the council, said the state law also “ensures that all businesses that might be able to participate in a potential project have the right to bid and attempt to get public business.”
“Additionally, it protects the public’s purse strings because it guarantees that the price negotiated is likely to be the best with many different bidders seeking public contracts,” he wrote. “The law seeks to prevent insider dealing.”
This is entirely reasonable. But it may also upset Mayor Dwight Jones’s plan to funnel the entire project through Richmond’s economic development authority. Why is this important? As Paul Goldman and I noted in the Washington Post:
Why is this important? In a nutshell, the EDA is not bound by the Richmond City Charter and City Code, creating an alluring legal loophole. The Richmond EDA could award millions of dollars in contracts for the stadium and other facilities without competitive bidding. EDA rules also allow secrecy to protect the identities of subcontractors, lawyers, public relations firms and lobbyists working for the winning main contractors.
With $11 million in state money on the line for the slavery museum — which Mayor Jones has expressly linked to the ballpark — the General Assembly is obligated to see that those who will spend the money do so under an open, transparent, bidding process.
Good on Manoli for sticking up for both Virginia taxpayers and state law.