The D.C. Lottery Board voted yesterday to issue a new bid solicitation for its potentially lucrative daily numbers operation, and said that it will hold a hearing next week to determine whether South African business involvement on the part of any of the companies that bid should be considered a negative factor in selecting the winner of the contract.
The newest bid solicitation, which will be made public today, includes a provision requiring bidders to disclose exactly how much money will flow to the minority partners of the contract winner. This issue led to a protracted dispute over the original selection of a firm to operate the city's first legalized numbers game.
D.C. law now requires that 35 percent of the value of all city government contracts go to minorities. But the lottery board, in choosing Lottery Technology Enterprises last March to receive the contract, considered profits instead of revenue flow in helping to determine the relative merits of the three bidders' minority participation. The board this week, over the protests of Lottery Technology, scrapped the earlier bids and voted to solicit new ones.
The board expects to sign a new contract sometime next month, but the delay is expected to postpone the start of the game from July 18, as originally planned, to sometime in October.
The board reluctantly agreed to solicit new bids after Mayor Marion Barry and his top aides threatened to try to remove board members if they did not seek new offers.
After a press conference yesterday, Barry again angrily referred to the board members as a "a runaway board . . . they're crazy." During his news conference, Barry hinted that he would seek to replace two members, Jerry Cooper and Lillian Wiggins, whose terms expire on June 23.
"I've made some choices of personnel that I shouldn't have made and particularly on several boards and commissions," Barry said.
"As you very well know . . . there are two appointments that are coming up. You'll get an announcement about that fairly soon, too."
The question of whether to consider bidders' involvement in South Africa is likely to involve the board in further controversy. No city law bans the hiring of firms that do business with South Africa, although many D.C. officials have spoken against such contracting because of South Africa's apartheid policy.
The board voted 3 to 1 to hold the hearing next week in order to seek legal advice on whether it can include the provision on South Africa. Board chairman Brant Coopersmith, along with Wiggins and Cooper, voted for the measure, with Almore Dale dissenting and Carolyn Lewis voting "present."
The two losing bidders, who sought the contract under the first bid solicitation, D.C. Data Co. and Columbia Gaming Services Inc., have partners who do business in South Africa.