Clark County joined Las Vegas Paving on Tuesday in appealing a judge’s order to award a road-widening contract to a rival bidder.
Commissioners voted 4-3 to challenge U.S. District Judge Robert Jones’ order to give Fisher Sand and Gravel a $113 million contract on the northern Las Vegas Beltway.
The county replaced the project in November with a similar one and planned to start bidding all over again. That rankled Jones, who accused commissioners of defying his earlier order to reconsider Fisher. He told the county last month it had to hire Fisher.
The county will take its case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Las Vegas Paving gave notice two weeks ago that it would appeal the judge’s action.
“We’re a unified front now,” said Jim Barker, Las Vegas Paving’s attorney.
The two contractors have been locked in a legal battle since April over a project that would widen the Beltway between Decatur Boulevard and Tenaya Way and create about 200 jobs.
Commissioner Tom Collins said the county must appeal to prevent the rights of elected officials “from being trampled on by an overreaching judge.”
Commissioners Larry Brown, Rory Reid and Susan Brager voted against the appeal.
Brown said he didn’t want to tie up the project in court for another 18 months to three years when residents need the jobs now.
“Jobs should be the overriding factor,” Brown said.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said the project will be delayed regardless of whether the county files an appeal. She agreed with Collins that the commission must make a stand.
“I do believe the judge — no disrespect — went beyond his authority,” Giunchigliani said.
Last year, commissioners chose Las Vegas Paving twice, even though Fisher’s bid was $4.6 million less. Fisher’s attorney, Stan Parry, accused commissioners of pro-union bias, saying they rejected Fisher because it’s a nonunion shop.
Judge Jones ordered the commission to reconsider bids and said Commissioners Collins and Steve Sisolak couldn’t participate. But commissioners decided to replace the project with a scaled-down version that would add an interchange.
Jones argued that commissioners weren’t allowed to vacate bids at this stage. He accused them of “acting corruptly” in favoring a union shop.
Brager said the judge had no right to insult them for doing what they felt was right.
“Actually, a public apology is necessary, and I know we’ll never get it,” she said.
A few commissioners said they would like to see the two contractors settle their differences outside court so the project could get started.
Barker said the two parties are required to meet in a pre-settlement conference while the case is under appeal.
“We’re going to work to get it resolved,” Barker said.
Contact reporter Scott Wyland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-455-4519.