By editorial board • 

Government, like people, should try to 'Shop Local'

There’s an old Southern saying, “Dance with the one that brung ya.” And despite the fractured grammar, it makes a powerful statement about integrity, character and loyalty.

The point is, abandoning longtime loyal friends for flashy new out-of-towners is folly. It has a way of coming back to haunt you, often at the most inconvenient times.

And McMinnville has few truer friends than Washington Roofing — Ray Washington, Harold Washington and Eric Wolff, who have owned the company by turns since Ray founded it in the family barn in 1968.

We raise the point because the McMinnville School Board has managed, despite the best of intentions, to bar McMinnville’s leading roofer from future district roofing projects. Taking its direction from a Roseburg architect, it has limited local work to four of Portland Metro outfits.

To give the board its due, it was trying to protect tax money by having a consultant conduct an assessment and develop a coordinated plan of attack. And its choice combines school board service with special expertise in school roofing.

But a first alarm should have sounded when the architect insisted on a single style — modified built-up-roofing or BUR — under the auspices of one of just two major American suppliers. A second alarm should have sounded when the only institutional roofer in town indicated he was not certified in the style because he felt there were better options.

Washington Roofing has donated the materials and labor for every roof on every Habitat for Humanity house in McMinnville — more than 45 of them. In recent years, it has been throwing in gutters as well.

The company has been Linfield College’s roofer of choice for 40 years. And it has installed the majority of the region’s commercial, industrial and institutional roofs.

Longtime owner Harold Washington has been a leader, volunteer and financial supporter of a broad array of community and civic programs, and Wolff, his son-in-law and successor, is blazing his own trail of civic engagement.

The company has spurred the local economy by four times moving to larger quarters in new locations, revitalizing a series of local properties, and developing a new southern gateway for the city. When McMinnville’s historic Cozine House desperately needed a new roof, Washington Roofing and First Federal teamed up to provide one, at no cost to the community.

If anything, Washington Roofing should enjoy favored status for local school roofing. At a minimum, it should get a fair shot.

If the district has any sense, it will move to rectify its roof specifications before going to voters with a bond issue seeking millions for — among other things — new school roofs.

Fortunately, there is time. No major roof projects are on the near-term horizon, the board has a mechanism for reviewing its pre-qualification list annually, and the district is targeting 2016 for its bond attempt.

The issue goes beyond Washington Roofing. Government bodies that depend on local property taxes should make every effort to support local commercial ventures. As we’ve said so many times in so many ways, “Shop Local.”



great commentary on the problems associated with the public bidding process


I'm still shaking my head in disbelief.

I would be curious to know how many times in the past half a century the school district has asked Washington Roofing for contributions. How many sports programs, fund raisers, auctions, or emergency repairs, all of which WR has undoubtedly said yes to. How many other local businesses has the school district hit up to cover costs or raise funds? How much in taxes have the local businesses paid to keep our schools running?

Yet the district hires a consultant from out of the area who just happens to set criteria that locks a local company out of bidding on jobs. The suspicious part of my nature wants to look at the companies the consulting firm has just guaranteed will get those bids.

Washington Roofing didn't ask for the jobs, they asked for a chance to bid on the jobs. I would trust their expertise, given their history, far more than an outsider, as they have a vested interest in getting it right the first time.

My hat is off to Stan Primozich for standing up for what is right. Now I hope the school district will re-examine their policies to include local businesses who have always supported them.


BC is right, in that the "set criteria [locked] a local company out of bidding on jobs". THAT is the larger issue and that is the one that I have asked the district to re-examine and re-propose. I would like to stress, however, that the question before the "board" was a strict and narrow one: did Washington Roofing meet the SPECIFIC requirements for Modified BUR roofing as set forth in the RFQ. I cannot speak for other members (nor do I want to), but using the strict criteria set forth in the RFQ, they did not. Even Washington roofing admitted as such.
My hope is that we can re-examine the consultant's original recommendations and possibly modify them to give this excellent local business a place in the bidding process. Obviously none of the board members wished to exclude them. But speaking for ME, the specifics of the question for which the hearing was held and the objective and rigid requirements of the original RFQ upon which the appeal was based left no other proper choice on that particular vote. In MY mind, the real workable (and equatable) solution is to widen the parameters of allowable roofing to be sure Washington Roofing has a place at the table, not to set forth specific restrictions, but then ignore those restrictions for one particular company.
I must STRESS that I am speaking NOT as an official board member, but as a citizen. I've been frustrated with the portrayal of those of us who voted no, and feel that it was not clear that our vote was based on answering an appeal to a VERY SPECIFIC question on a RFQ that had already been submitted. If there is a bright side to all this, it is that it triggered a re-examination of the RFQ process, but the VOTE ITSELF, in my interpretation of it, could not be cast any other way.

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