Great Falls City Commission Hypocrisy

While hypocrisy isn’t exclusive to politicians, it certainly is more disappointing when we see it in our elected officials.

Case in point. At last week’s Great Falls City Commission work session, Commissioner Mary Moe presented a draft resolution addressing nondiscrimination, which she authored. Her cover letter includes the following:

“I am attaching a draft resolution that would accomplish something really substantive in addressing the concerns we heard last night. I think we could do something that really moves the needle in terms of public understanding, tolerance, and commitment to eliminating bias, and I am excited about that possibility.”

Based on this draft resolution and her previous comments on inclusivity and nondiscrimination it appears that Commissioner Moe feels very strongly about women’s advancement in society and the workplace. She talks the talk, but does she walk the walk?

During the recent selection of an architectural firm to help coordinate the construction of the City’s new indoor recreation and aquatics facility, Moe voted to hire the City-appointed selection committee’s recommendation without reviewing the committee’s scoring sheets or the proposals/designs of the 10 submitting firms.

It was known that one of the firms was a woman owned firm. In the selection committee’s ranking, Spark Architecture came in a very close second.

Not once did Commissioner Moe publicly recognize that the City’s own procurement policy is committed to inclusivity and the advancement of women and other Section 3 applicants for public contracts.

The City’s policy states; “Affirmative steps must be taken to assure that minority and women-owned businesses are used, when possible, as sources of supplies, equipment, construction and services. Grantees need to comply with Section 3 reporting requirements and should be pro-active in utilizing firms with a majority of Section 3 employees.”

It is important to note that Section 3 businesses are not entitled to receive contracts simply by being listed in HUD’s Section 3 Business Registry database.

Eligible businesses may need to demonstrate that they are responsible and have the ability to perform successfully under the terms and conditions of proposed contracts. Section 3 requirements at federal statute 24 CFR 135, then provides preference for contracts and subcontracts to these firms – but not a guarantee.

Keep in mind that this project includes $10M of Federal funds.

Spark Architecture’s combined score was only behind the City’s selection committee’s recommended firm by 4%. Typical affirmative action practices award a section 3 applicant a 5% add-on.

Note: The above architectural rendering was part of Spark Architecture’s submission.

Spark Architecture’s principal has been directly involved in several similar aquatics facility projects during her practice in Arizona.

As a side note, I am reminded of President of the Great Falls Development Authority, Brett Doney’s comment that in order to promote economic development in our city, “We must work to recruit and retain young talent”.

We should all ask if in this case, whether the infamous Good Ol’ Boys Club in Great Falls trumped our elected official’s hollow words of inclusivity and nondiscrimination.

Posted by Philip M. Faccenda

Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.

Reader interactions

2 Replies to “Great Falls City Commission Hypocrisy”

  1. Such disappointment


  2. Price and value of the design. Those are the considerations that should matter. Commissioners should be very discriminating along those lines when it comes to spending the taxpayers’ money. Remember, women, and minorities are taxpayers too.


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