Thursday, April 2, 2009

DOE Hurts Middle Village Business Owner


In a time where New York City needs to assist small business owners, the Department of Education is again awarding lucrative business contracts to large out of state corporations.


The City Council Education Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the Department of Education's contracting process that some say is forcing small businesses out of the equation. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Piles and piles of books can be found at the office of Attanasio and Associates in the Middle Village section of Queens. Each supports a specific curriculum. The company's president, Connie Attanasio, has been supplying city schools with books for 25 years. But she says now the Department of Education is pushing her out of business along with other small, minority and women-owned companies.

"It's discriminatory. It's against the American way. We're small businesses with people working from the community," said Attanasio.

Two years ago, the DOE changed the requirements for contracting with book vendors to favor larger companies that can charge the city less. In order to even bid for a contract, book companies now have to do $5 million worth of business -- automatically knocking Attanasio out of the process.

"It's just been big business. Get rid of the little guys," said Attanasio.
The DOE recently awarded book vendor contracts to two large companies -- one in Missouri, the other in Tennessee.

"We just got very aggressive pricing from two very large sources and since this was a competitive bid, they low-bid everybody," said Department of Education Board Member David Ross.

The Department's contracting process was the subject of a City Council committee Wednesday. DOE officials testified they've already saved $17 million by doing business with the big companies.

"Our role here is to get the best price and the best quality for the schools," said Department of Education Board Member Photeine Anagnostopoulos.

But Attanasio argues schools will not be receiving the best quality because the out of town suppliers are not in tune with the needs of city students.

"What we really did was create materials for New York. This is where I live. This is where I was born and raised. These are the communities I'm involved in," said Attanasio.

Attanasio says she's lost nearly 25 percent of business and had to lay off two employees since the rules changed.

As Attanasio's business was cut, she was forced to cut some of her office space by nearly a third.
At the hearing, City Council member Letitia James says a small supplier in her Brooklyn neighborhood is being forced to shut down.

"I don't want any supplier to close in the City of New York, particularly during these austere times and I do not want to put anybody else on the unemployment line," said James.

While the City Council asked DOE for more documentation on their bidding procedures, Attanasio says she hopes her small business can survive.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

No it's not ironic. This proposal first saw the light of day in 2007 when Dennis Gallagher was in office. Gallagher's wife co-owned a construction company with Serf Maltese's son-in-law and in her marketing material she boasted about her connections with SCA. Liz can take a part of the blame for this, but it was Gallagher who screwed Maspeth (as well as that granny in his office).

Anonymous said...

No it's not ironic. This proposal first saw the light of day in 2007 when Dennis Gallagher was in office. Gallagher's wife co-owned a construction company with Serf Maltese's son-in-law and in her marketing material she boasted about her connections with SCA. Liz can take a part of the blame for this, but it was Gallagher who screwed Maspeth (as well as that granny in his office).

Anonymous said...

No it's not ironic. This proposal first saw the light of day in 2007 when Dennis Gallagher was in office. Gallagher's wife co-owned a construction company with Serf Maltese's son-in-law and in her marketing material she boasted about her connections with SCA. Liz can take a part of the blame for this, but it was Gallagher who screwed Maspeth (as well as that granny in his office).

jesus said...

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