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Mayor Vince Gray is taking another shot at the city’s Certified Business Enterprise system. The first time he tried to tackle the troubled contracting program, he ended up vetoing the resulting bill a few months later. Today, Gray tried again, releasing proposed legislation from a task force of “prominent business leaders.”
You can read the full version of the legislation below, but much of it centers around stiffer fines for CBE violators and increased enforcement in the District’s Department of Small and Local Business Development.
The DSLBD, which until recently only employed one investigator, would have ten instead. The legislation would also allow the District’s attorney general to sue CBE violators for $100,000 or triple the profits from all contracts firms won for being a CBE.
Gray’s proposal comes after Maryland-based Forrester Construction agreed to pay $1 million to the District instead of facing a fraud lawsuit over a CBE joint venture. At the press conference, Gray said he hoped Forrester’s settlement would be a cautionary tale for CBEs—-a little awkward, given that Rod Woodson, Forrester’s lobbyist, was on the task force that produced today’s CBE reforms.
Yesterday, Councilmember Vincent Orange, Gray’s sometimes ally on CBE reform, claimed on the dais that Forrester was under federal investigation. Gray declined to comment on the idea that some of the city’s CBE companies might be attracting federal attention.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery