JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Motorists traveling down Philips Highway just south of downtown are seeing the sign of a frustrated business owner, angry over the city's bidding process.
Dominic Migliarese put a protest sign up at his business recently to protest a bidding process he said is unfair. The sign has gotten some attention lately.
His sign reads: "JACKSONVILLE CITY OFFICIALS WOULD RATHER SPEND OUR TAX DOLLARS WITH MURDERERS AND RAPISTS THAN WITH JACKSONVILLE SMALL BUSINESSES."
Migliarese and his wife Jennie own National Tire Solutions, Inc. and they had the contract to retread garbage truck tires for the city the last three years.
He said he gave excellent service and the city had no problems with his finished products.
But he ended up third in the bidding, just $15,000 less than Pride Enterprises, a government sponsored nonprofit in Avon Park that offers job training to prisoners in various fields, including tire retreading.
Pride got the job.
"We cannot compete with the prison, just because we can't afford to pay our guys 56 cents an hour," said Migliarese. "We have to pay a living wage, we have to pay workman's comp, liability insurance. How can we ever compete with them. It's impossible."
Though he would still be disappointed, he wishes the city would have at least picked the other local company that outbid him.
"If they would have picked the number two person, that sign would never have gone up."
They sent a letter to the mayor's office protesting the city's action, and said they didn't get anything more than a response of "we'll look into it." He's angry the city isn't supporting local business and his state tax dollars are paying to keep these prisoners in prison and working against him,
"Basicly we're paying to put ourselves out of business if that makes any sense. Yeah, it's pretty pathetic."
Migliarese said Pride was organized to help city and county governments save money, he can see that, but he said inmates are making sales calls on private businesses he is trying to attract.
"You can't be out here soliciting the general public; it's one side or the other."
In the meantime, his sign is still there for all to see driving down Philips Highway. The city but have yet to receive one.
A Pride Enterprises spokesperson said they provide vocational training to inmates at no cost to taxpayers, and they were pleased to win this contract through fair bidding, and provide a significant savings to Jacksonville taxpayers over the term of the contract.
Pride said that they provide critical job skills to prisoners provided by the Department of Corrections, and 85 percent of the prisoners will be released within ten years.
The city, meanwhile, said under the process, it has to award this kind of contract to the lowest qualified bidder. There is no other option.