By Paul Gable
Since early last month when the Horry County Schools Board of Education picked First Floor Energy Positive to build five new schools, there has been an orchestrated attack to denigrate that decision.
Much has been made of the fact that the First Floor proposals were over the initial budget while little has been said about all three finalists submitting proposals over budget.
Several news articles have said that the school board ignored the advice of a paid consultant, but never mentioned that consultant was hired by the board’s attorneys to answer technical questions only and not to make recommendations about the awarding of the contracts.
Those articles were quick to point out that M.B. Kahn was the only one of the three finalists whose proposal was ‘within striking range’ of the initial budget.
The news media basically got fed part of the story and ran with it.
These were not design-bid-build projects where the contract design generally goes to the lowest bidder. These were design-build proposals where the best, most complete proposal gets the contract as long as the cost is in the ballpark of the others.
Many other allegations of ‘misinformation’ are being circulated, even though those circulating them can be seen to have some ties, past and/or present, to one of the unsuccessful proposers.
However, First Floor Energy Positive was the only proposer who demonstrated the ability to deliver the schools on time.
In addition, several sources said there are things First Floor included in their proposals, that the others did not, which helped the selection committee understand what they were getting and, more importantly, were requirements of the Request for Proposal and SC law.
And, First Floor Energy Positive is the only proposer of the three finalists to have successfully built energy positive schools that are raved about by the North Carolina school districts in which they are located.
There will be more to be heard about these contract awards in the coming months.
An attorney with a Charleston firm, whom I believe to be acting for one of the unsuccessful finalists, recently sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Horry County school district.
Several attorneys who reviewed that request said it reads much more like pre-trial discovery than a normal FOIA request.
As I have said before, the First Floor decision is in the political sphere where perception is reality, rather than in the reality sphere where only what is being done would be the story.