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Maintenance contract winner’s eligibility is questioned

ANNAPOLIS — Approval of a $4.8 million state contract for rest stop maintenance was deferred for two weeks at Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting because of questions about the bid winner’s eligibility.

The State Highway Administration granted the contract to H.D. Myles Inc. in February, making it responsible for maintenance of two Howard County rest areas along Interstate 95. The second-place bidder, Abacus Corp. in Baltimore, said this wasn’t fair — or legal — because H.D. Myles was not a corporation when its paperwork was submitted.

The paperwork included a required affidavit, signed on Feb. 1, confirming H.D. Myles’ status as a registered corporation. Documents show it was not incorporated until 51 days later.

Comptroller Peter Franchot said he was stunned that the highway administration granted the contract and said approval by the Board of Public Works would damage the integrity of state law.

“Don’t you feel a little awkward about awarding a $5 million bond to someone who lied on an affidavit?” he asked Edward Harris, attorney for the highway administration.

In an interview, an attorney for the second-place bidder agreed.

“On Day One, [the State Highway Administration] should have seen that and seen it didn’t meet the requirements,” said David Hausner, an attorney representing Abacus, which would have won the bid if H.D. Myles was disqualified.

In the affidavit, Michael A. Lesniowski of Church Hill indicates that H.D. Myles is a registered domestic corporation in good standing with Maryland, and that he is president of the organization.

He was present at the meeting on Wednesday.

“Some of the assertions that were assumed there were not correct,” he said in an interview later, but would not specify further.

His assertion as president is also an issue, Hausner said. According to state regulations, officers cannot be established until the organization is incorporated.

The contract will be reviewed by attorneys and staff for the Board of Public Works and the Department of Transportation.