First Posted: 1/15/2009
Staff and wire report
PEMBROKE - A top official with the Lumbee Tribal Council refuted claims by Lumbee Tribal Council members who said administrators violated policy when buying 30 mobile homes for emergency housing this year.
Some council members said administrators violated the procurement policy by not properly advertising the project.
But Craig McMillan, the tribe's housing director, said the Tribal Council went “over and above” tribal policy by soliciting quotes from three companies.
“Tribal policy says we need two quotes and we got three,” McMillan said.
The tribe's lawyer, Greg Bullard, told council members during the October meeting that the tribe could circumvent the advertising requirement if it would delay the tribe in fulfilling an immediate need.
“If there's some type of public need there, that advertisement will just simply take too long and the need needs to be filled, it would allow for that,” Bullard said, according to minutes from the Tribal Council meeting.
But some Tribal Council members still say the $474,000 project should have been advertised.
“The staff presented this as individual projects,” said Tribal Council member Danita Locklear. “This is something that should have been looked at as a whole because it involves hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
However, McMillan said he can't understand why Locklear would say that, since she voted to approve the project.
“You can check the minutes,” McMillan said. “This was approved in a unanimous vote, including Locklear and Linda Hammonds, who questioned the process in The Fayetteville Observer.”
An examination of the minutes by The Robesonian showed there was no opposition to the measure. Hammonds could not be reached for comment this morning.
McMillan also disagreed with comments by Hammonds that the mobile homes should be repaired instead of replaced.
“We've followed tribal policy completely,” McMillan said. “And our policy states we do what is most cost effective. These are mobile homes and it is more cost effective to replace them than to repair them.”
The tribe received $12 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for its housing program in October.
The mobile homes were purchased because families were promised help when their homes were condemned earlier this year, said McMillian.
The tribe in October agreed to buy the homes from Giles Industries in Tennessee for $15,800 each. Ten of the mobile homes have been sitting in storage at a local dealership for more than a month at a cost of $15 a day per home. The remaining 20 mobile homes have not been delivered because there is no place to keep them, according to tribal officials.