By PATRICK LEMAY
On Aug. 15, 2018, during the Berkowitz administration, my company (LeMay Engineering & Consulting, Inc.) submitted a competitive bid to the Municipality of Anchorage to provide temporary support and payroll services.
In other words, we bid to provide employees who work for us to the municipality—the employees work for the municipality, but they are our employees, and we handle payroll taxes and similar matters.
This contract is no secret; it is publicly available information located transparently on the city’s website.Our contract title is: 2018B065—Provide Temporary Support and Payroll Services on an as-required basis. Our low bid won the contract.
As an aside, here’s a fun fact: The dollar amount associated with temporary support services significantly decreased after Mayor Bronson took office and removed unnecessary and duplicative positions.
There is nothing untoward about my company’s contract. So, imagine my surprise when I received an email stating that my corporation was wasting the municipal taxpayers’ money. I investigated and discovered two false and defamatory articles written by a person who is associated with a small political blog that recently went live.
The articles were entitled “An Initial Look into Joe Gerace Could Lead to a More Comprehensive Audit,” January 11, 2023, and “Tshibaka Children Score Lucrative Summer Work with the Muni,” dated October 21, 2022.
Typically, municipal departments requiring temporary support already have identified the people they need and their hourly rates. Our scope is to hire people after background checks, verify employment eligibility, and send them to report to the MOA departments that initiated the requests. Timecards are collected weekly and are signed by the employee and MOA Department Supervisors. We pay each employee based on actual hours worked, along with all payroll taxes. We then submit invoices to the MOA for reimbursement.
The blogger published fairytales, libeling my company with mistruths and misleading deceptions that illustrated her lack of understanding regarding MOA contracts and their terms. She suggested a fraudulent payment was made to the Tshibaka children and then based upon her incorrect understanding of MOA contracts, she deduced that the hours the Tshibaka children worked violated labor laws. She is wrong on both counts.
MOA contracts are awarded for a “not to exceed” amount. The not to exceed amount of the contract is not paid in full up front; it is paid piece-meal and only against the contractor’s submitted invoices charging hours at hourly rates. For example, the period worked by one of the Tshibaka children was April 8 to July 7, 2022, and the purchase order was for a not to exceed value of $10,871—later increased to $15,947.
However, the amount actually invoiced to the MOA for this employee’s hours worked was $9,166.79—the amount paid did not reach the “not to exceed” amount. For the second Tshibaka child, the purchase order was for $3,525.00. This employee’s total hours worked were 47 over a three-week period. Thus, the total invoiced amount was only $1,104.50. Once again, the “not to exceed” amount was not reached.
Also, there was nothing untoward about the Tshibaka children working for the city. MOA Code 3.30.168 – Employment of Relatives, permitted the Tsibaka children to work for the city in different departments than their father.
I contacted that writer via email, asking to set the record straight with truth. But, she did not pick up the phone and call me to discuss these matters before writing her slanderous articles. In July 2022, an Anchorage Daily News journalist called me, asking about the Tshibaka children’s work for the municipality through our company. He had similar questions as the blogger. However, unlike the blogger, the ADN journalist called me to discuss his questions first prior to publishing a fairytale. After his questions were answered, the Anchorage Daily News journalist concluded there was no story.
The website that published the falsehoods is associated with the Ship Creek Group, a political consultancy that registered the website name. One of the partners of this entity was employed by disgraced Mayor Berkowitz’s administration through our temporary employment services contract.
When opening our company 18 years ago, we wanted our name as part of our title. Our name (i.e., our reputation) means everything to us. Anchorage Taxpayers, there’s nothing to see here.
This column was written by Patrick M. LeMay, corporate president of LeMay Engineering & Consulting, Inc. and has been reviewed by one of his corporate attorneys.