Firm drops bid for city contract after ethics issue was raised

March 11, 1997|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

Blaming "unsubstantiated allegations," one of six companies vying for a multimillion-dollar Baltimore Housing Authority security contract withdrew its bid yesterday.

In a brief written statement, Carol Troutman, vice president of the Trident Group, said the firm was withdrawing its proposal because of questions raised about the relationship between two of its owners and the administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

"Recent unsubstantiated allegations by a major newsprint organization have made our attempt to compete inequitable," she said, adding it was "irresponsible journalism" to raise questions of ethical conflict when the two owners, who are also city employees, had obtained approval from the city Board of Ethics.

The Sun reported Saturday that two of the principals of Trident were city employees.

Glenn Valis, a city police officer assigned to Schmoke's security detail, and Darryl J. Madden, a former administrative assistant to the mayor and now chief of the parking division in the city Department of Public Works, are part owners of the security firm.

Madden said Friday that the two had obtained a ruling from the ethics panel, which concluded that no conflict would exist as long as they did not seek business with the two city agencies that directly employ them.

In her statement, Troutman said Trident's proposal called for the use of a community relations liaison officer to enhance safety in the housing authority properties. "It is unfortunate that we can no longer play a pivotal role in these developments," she said.

Trident's withdrawal leaves five companies in the running for the pact to provide security guard services in seven housing authority buildings. The agency is seeking a new contractor because it terminated a prior agreement for the same services with Wells Fargo last month.

An earlier contract with NOI Security Agency Inc., an affiliate of the Nation of Islam, was voided at the insistence of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. NOI is one of the five remaining firms in contention for the contract. Also submitting proposals by the Feb. 14 deadline were Solidarity Security and Investigations, Watkins Security, Star Brite Security and L. Washington and Associates.

Richard Butchok, the attorney for Allen W. Ackerman, head of Solidarity Security, said his client had severed all ties with NOI Security long before the bids were submitted. Butchok said that while Ackerman had served as a vice president and resident agent for NOI, he had formally resigned from those posts. He said there was no relationship between NOI and Solidarity.

"They are completely separate," he said.

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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