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Herndon Rejects Both Labor Site Proposals

Third request for proposals issued.

The Town of Herndon has issued a third request for proposals for a new day labor site operator after town staff rejected two previous bids on grounds they did not meet the full requirements of the town’s previous request, according to town staff.

The new request, issued on July 11, sets a deadline for new proposals by the afternoon of July 31, according to Herndon public information officer Anne Curtis.

Curtis declined to elaborate on the specific reasons why the two bids were deemed "non-responsive," or failing to meet the requirements of the request for proposals. That information has also not been provided to Herndon’s elected officials or those making proposals, she added.

Some of the requirements in the new request for proposals include describing proper insurance coverage, providing prospective staff member resumes, detailing specific work eligibility verification methods and detailing experience in running a similar site, according to the request.

"We’re disappointed obviously, and I hope that [those making proposals] will resubmit," said Town Council member Connie Hutchinson, who added that the proposal will be maintained as it was last time. "It’s kind of just going to continue as it has been for the last couple months, nothing has changed."

HERNDON RESIDENT Dennis "Butch" Baughan, a former Herndon High School vocational teacher who submitted one of the two proposals said that he would be resubmitting his proposal.

Baughan, a vocal critic of the practices of the current day labor site, had proposed starting a site that would serve the unemployed and lesser-skilled workers in the Herndon area. He added that he was upset that town staff did not provide him with the specific reasons for why his proposal was rejected.

"They didn’t go over any of the reasons for why the proposal came back [non-responsive], so I have no clue," Baughan said. "They just said that their position was that I could resubmit a proposal."

COUNCIL MEMBER Harlon Reece, who has been the only elected official in Herndon to oppose finding a new operator for the town’s day labor site, said that he could not speculate on the reasons for why the proposals were denied.

"The Town Council can’t really get involved in the evaluation of procurement proposals," Reece said. "You can’t let politics influence the decisions on purchases that the town makes."

Both Hutchinson and council member Charlie Waddell said that the request for proposals would continue until the town finds a new day labor site operator.

"I just thought OK, it’s a question mark, but let’s go back to the drawing board," Waddell said of not knowing why the proposals were rejected. "I think that given time, we will find an operator that will satisfy those requirements."

For Waddell, the rejections are another step in an important process to find a site operator that can meet the requirements of the town and the desires of the council.

"Right now, much of the angst in the community stems from the way the situation is," with the current day labor site operator, he said. "It has been called a divisive issue … and I’m optimistic that we can find a resolution for that with a successful proposal."

Herndon Mayor Steve DeBenedittis said that he is committed to finding a new site operator and will continue to support any future requests for proposals.

"As far as I'm concerned, we are going to continue looking to find a solution to this day labor problem that better addresses the wishes of the most of the residents in town," he said.

THE REJECTION of the two proposals is the most recent interruption of the Town Council’s search for a new day labor site operator that will check for work authorization status of its users. A previous request expired in February and attracted no proposals. Subsequent requests include a commitment from the town to spend about $17,000 to improve the site, designed to make the request more attractive. A successful bidder would pay back about half of that amount in lieu of rent over the course of its existence in Herndon.

Earlier this month, Herndon Planning Commission members recommended approval of a one-year special exception permit for the current operator of the Herndon Official Workers Center, non-profit organization Project Hope & Harmony, and a potential new operator for the site.

DeBenedittis and several members of Herndon’s Town Council, who were elected in large part due to their opposition to the town’s current day labor site, have been officially searching for a new operator to check work authorization status of its users since January.

Project Hope & Harmony has refused to verify workers’ residency status, saying that they are not legally responsible to perform the checks.

The Herndon Official Workers Center has been in operation at 1481 Sterling Road in Herndon since its establishment in December 2005.