The Las Vegas City Council acted properly when it awarded a Mob Museum bid to APCO Construction, a judge ruled today, clearing the way — for now — for the project to proceed.
Flagship Construction Co., the second-lowest bidder for the remodeling job, had sued the city, contending APCO wasn’t qualified and that the city shouldn’t have thrown out an earlier set of bids in which Flagship was the low bidder.
District Judge Susan Johnson denied Flagship’s request for an injunction and rescinded a temporary restraining order she had issued.
The city and APCO will meet to discuss the contract July 24 and construction could begin as soon as the next day.
“I feel like we haven’t been delayed at all,” said Mayor Oscar Goodman. “The first date that was of any significance was July 24. It’s business as usual as far as redevelopment.”
However, Flagship could appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. Mark Ferrario, an attorney representing the company, said he expects that decision to be made by Monday.
“A lot of things could happen,” Goodman acknowledged. “I’m not going to put myself in the place of any judges, but we prevailed and it looked like we prevailed pretty readily.
“If people want to spend money (on an appeal), that’s their prerogative. But we are going forward with the project.”
After the ruling, Ferrario told the judge he was worried about a legal distinction he thought was overlooked. Flagship’s initial bid protest contained three items, but when the City Council discussed the matter several other matters came up, including ongoing litigation between APCO and the city over tennis courts APCO built at a park.
Council members were told that when evaluating bidders, staff took into account only settled litigation, not pending cases.
“Of course you should be able to consider that!” Ferrario protested Thursday. “There is no rule that I can find that says, ‘You can’t look at anything that’s pending.’
“I think it’s time for the court to step in and give us direction.”
City Attorney Brad Jerbic said that level of scrutiny would likely overburden staff, since contractors are frequently involved in litigation. It would also put city officials in the role of an arbitrator or judge deciding the merits of a lawsuit.
“It creates an almost impossible situation,” he said.
Furthermore, with the down economy, more contractors are fighting harder for public works contracts, and Jerbic worried that having a process that’s open to every challenge would bring all work to a halt.
“There needs to be some finality here,” he said. “This matter was thoroughly investigated, and at the end of the day, as odd as it may seem, APCO had the low bid.”
The $11.5 million contract would pay for restoration work on the inside of the historic federal courthouse in downtown Las Vegas.
It will be the home of the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, and if the work proceeds as scheduled, it will open sometime next year.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-229-6435.