Former bakery associate loses BART contract
By Josh Richman, The Chauncey Bailey Project
A longtime Your Black Muslim Bakery associate with a checkered past in handling public money lost a BART lighting-improvement contract worth up to $1 million when he failed to provide certain documents by a Thursday-evening deadline.
But state funding for the project required that contracts be awarded by Oct. 31, so it’s unclear whether the North Berkeley station work can proceed. BART is “exploring its options,” spokesman Linton Johnson wrote in an e-mail to reporters shortly after a joint venture led by Nedir Bey’s Solar Eclipse Group missed its 5 p.m. deadline and so terminated the contract that had been conditionally awarded Oct. 30. Bey didn’t return a call and an e-mail seeking comment.
Bey, 48, born Victor Rene Foster, was a confidante and “spiritually adopted” son of the late Yusuf Ali Bey, founder of Your Black Muslim Bakery. Once a respected community institution, the bakery has been linked to decades of various frauds, abuses of women and children, and violent episodes including several homicides. Nedir Bey’s own past includes a $1.1 million Oakland city loan in 1996 that was never repaid and city council campaign matching funds questionably raised and spent in 2002, all following a 1995 felony conviction from an incident in which he and cohorts attacked someone.
Solar Eclipse was the original low bidder on a lighting and energy efficiency contract for the North Berkeley and 12th Street/City Center stations, but its bid was based on outdated information — Bey said he hadn’t received an e-mailed update — and so was rejected. When the project was reworked and rebid, LINC Lighting & Electrical Group of San Jose was the low bidder and the only one under the in-house estimate, so BART staff recommended that LINC get the contract.
But directors Lynnette Sweet, Carole Ward Allen and Bob Franklin refused at their Oct. 22 meeting, blaming BART staff for letting the bid process get so close to the funding deadline and for letting a paperwork error foul up a low bid from a minority-owned local small business. Berated by Bey and several supporters, most of whom cited BART’s often-rocky relations with minority contractors, the board voted 8-0 to split the contract between LINC and Solar Eclipse.
Solar Eclipse’s base contract would have been for $562,129 worth of work at the North Berkeley station; BART would have been able to exercise options for another $438,000 worth of work. But Bey had failed to provide certain insurance, bond and license documents by Oct. 31, so he was given until 5 p.m. Thursday to file them.
LINC’s work at the 12th Street station will proceed, and Johnson later Thursday evening said BART’s options might include letting LINC handle the North Berkeley station work, too.
“We think we can move the funding to LINC … since we did execute a contract and we have someone eminently qualified,” he said. “We’re exploring those options. We don’t know 100 percent but we think we can.”
Reach Josh Richman at firstname.lastname@example.org