Does the security contract for the new administration building pass the smell test?

Questions raised about the security contract with the new county administration building. (WOIO)
Questions raised about the security contract with the new county administration building. (WOIO)

The opening of the new County Administration Building was touted as the dawn of a new era in County politics. It was out with the old, in with the new.  While it appears to satisfy the letter of the law, does a contract for security here pass the smell test.

This is the latest in technology. It's all high tech with surveillance cameras, control stations, monitoring and metal detectors.

It may surprise you to know it was all installed by Zenith Systems, a successor to Doan Pyramid, a company run by Michael Forlani.  Forlani was a man deeply mired in the county corruption case.  He's in prison until 2020 for bribing county officials to get jobs just like this.

So you may ask, weren't people implicated supposed to be barred from new work? They were.

But shortly after Doan Pyramid was raided in 2008 Doan was reformed as an employee owned company, Zenith. Forlani transferred 99% of his stock to his wife, the rest to his kids.  Legally he's out of the company.

The county maintains a list of barred contractors names. Forlani's and many others involved in the county corruption case are on it, but Zenith's is on the qualified contractors list.

Inspector General Naila Byrd made that call a couple of years ago when Zenith was awarded a $40 million dollar contract for the Medical Mart. That despite a rule that says a company that got seed money from a banned person can't do business with the county. Forlani loaned Zenith money to get started.

The county's explanation is that Geis Companies built and owns the property, so Zenith was hired by them not the county. Again, it doesn't appear anyone did anything wrong here.  But as we said, does it pass the smell test?

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