Met Council under fire for disregarding criticism from communityby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Some community members are criticizing a decision by Central Corridor light-rail planners to award a large bonus to one of the general contractors.
The Metropolitan Council is getting heat after it decided to disregard community input when determining the incentive pay for Chicago-based Walsh Construction, which amounts to $40,000, or 80 percent of the available pay for last quarter.
When determining the bonus, the Met Council decided to throw out three negative reviews from a community panel that evaluates the contractor's performance.
One of those reviews came from Frogtown neighborhood organizer Tait Danielson Castillo, who now says he is beginning to question the purpose of serving on the volunteer committee. The meetings are run by the Met Council's project office.
Walsh should be the one running the meeting. They should be the one offering us input as to what they're doing," Castillo said. "But instead, the Met Council seems to be controlling the atmosphere up to the point where they removed our evaluations."
The Met Council says it rejected the responses because the reviewers were blaming Walsh for problems outside of the contractor's scope of work.
Walsh Construction was blasted last year by community members and project officials for poor performance, and that hurt the firm in the pocketbook.
But the reviewers were judging Walsh on responsibilities that should have been carried out by utility companies or the Met Council, said Central Corridor spokeswoman Laura Baenen.
"I mean, you don't complain to Macy's about a bad experience you had at Gimbels. Macy's can't help you with that," Baenen said.
Other community members say Walsh has improved over last year, and the higher marks reflect that.
In Minneapolis, the general contracting team of Ames/McCrossan received a similar share of its available pay — $16,300, or 82 percent of the available $20,000 incentive.