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Forum coming on Gary construction hiring

Updated: January 12, 2013 6:16AM



GARY — A seminar airing issues regarding local hiring practices for government jobs is being planned by the city to diffuse a simmering controversy.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Jan. 9 is the tentative date, but it’s pending the availability of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville.

An activist criticized the Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners Monday for failing to hire local residents for a sewer project in the Glen Ryan subdivision on the city’s east side near 7th Avenue and Clay Street.

As Ron Matlock’s remarks escalated with GSD Board Chairman Richard Comer, a security guard stood by Matlock, a member of the Calumet Township Board, waiting to escort him from the meeting room.

Last month, Matlock and a handful of residents from the Gary Fair Share Jobs Project led a protest at the site of the sewer project on the city’s east side near 7th Avenue and Clay Street. The group contended local workers were ignored for the construction jobs.

Matlock said there’s a city ordinance that calls for contractors to hire local workers.

After the meeting, GSD Director Dan Vicari said while the city has a local hiring ordinance, federal money was used in the Glen Ryan project secured from a Visclosky earmark. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts for the project and is isn’t bound by local ordinances.

Freeman-Wilson, who’s also the special administrator for the sanitary district, wants to reach an accord with federal officials over the hiring local workers.

Meanwhile, the GSD board approved a resolution reducing the fees for trash collection to $14.40 per month, down from $15.90. The action still needs approval from the City Council.

Vicari said the city’s new waste collection company, Waste Management, has filled nine of 11 positions with Gary workers.

Finally, the board approved a contract with Whittaker and Company, P.L.L.C., for financial and accounting consulting services in an amount not to exceed $120,000.

J. Gari and Associates, headed by Freeman-Wilson campaign consultant Bo Kemp, received a contract for professional services not to exceed $80,000.

The Storm Water Management District, composed of the same GSD board members, awarded Whittaker a consulting contract of up to $50,000 for financial and accounting services and a $50,000 professional services contract to attorney Deidre Monroe, who also serves as the city judge.



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