8:55AM TGIF. Looks like everyone is in the courtroom and the mood is pretty jovial. Always amazes me that after all the antics that go on during the proceedings how cordial government and prosecution are with each other on the breaks.
EPA agent Carol Paskiewicz should be up first this morning so that Martin Crandall, one of Victor Mercado's lawyers, can finish his cross examination of her. Next on the stand should should be Tom Hardiman of A & H Contractors.
Can tell the summer weather is done as all defendants are wearing wintery, dark suits. Kwame Kilpatrick is in an olive 3 piece suit with his black Clark Kent style glasses holding his book of inspirational verses. Bobby Ferguson is in brown and Bernard Kilpatrick is in a black suit.
9:00AM Judge Nancy Edmunds convenes court.
9:02AM Crandall starts his cross but we have no audio in the media room so no idea what he's saying.
Missed Crandall's entire cross because of audio issues. Oh no, he's coming back with one more thing.
Looks like he is introducing a new organizational chart.
9:08AM Mike Rataj, Ferguson's lawyer, up to re-cross the EPA agent.
Says he has no questions for the witness but would like to introduce things into evidence.
One of the documents is DWSD analysis of payments to Ferguson Enterprises regarding WS 650. The other document is the same for 651.
And that's it for the EPA agent.
9:10AM Mark Chutkow for government calls Tom Hardiman Sr of A & H Contractors. Hardiman is the minority business owner referenced yesterday as having suffered from preferential treatment to Ferguson.
Hardiman is President of construction firm A & H Contractors. In particular, infrastructure improvements, water mains and municipal, local work.
With the Small business Administration. No longer with Lakeshore Engineering, another construction firm. Does similar work as A & H. Also work for state, local and federal governments.
He was a fireman in the city of Detroit for 18 years- from 1974 to 1992. Degree from Wayne State while a firefighter. in 1994, worked for the Detroit Minority Business Development Center- 1994-1997. The Center helps minority firms with certifications and putting together business plans. His role with them was a consultant.
While there met Avinash Rachmale. He was starting his business in 1994 and the witness was one of the consultants that helped. Rachmale was the CEO of Lakeshore Engineering. At the time, Lakeshore was an environmental engineering firm. Rachmale a minority, born in India.
In 1994 to 1997, Rachmale would periodically go to Center to meet with witness. Witness became Rachmale's private consultant in 1997. In 1998, the witness started to work with Rachmale and in 1999 they worked together to push Lakeshore into a new direction. Hardiman's financial situation was a little challenging in his early years. Rachmale was a financially conservative guy and he sat the witness down and said "You're spending money faster than you're getting it in." Rachmale told him that he could get him debt free in 2 years. Hardiman became debt free because of the more disciplined approach he took as a result.
Witness would take bills monthly to Rachmale to make sure he wasn't spending more than was coming in. In December 2000, Rachmale added up all his bills and gave him a bonus and then gave him an additional check for $5,000. "A man who is not debt thinks better," was Rachmale's philosophy.
They worked to grow Lakeshore- had certification for disadvantaged businesses. It's a 9 year program so no longer qualified in 2006.
Lakeshore received an award from SBA for outstanding business. Hardiman attended the guest at the White House in DC. The US President was there thinks the witness.
As Lakeshore began to evolve, witness purchased A & H Contractors in 2003.
The Lakeshore Group has 600 to 700 employees now. The umbrella group has Lakeshore Healthcare, Sky Group Grand, Lakeshore Economic correlation is a non-profit arm.
Lakeshore Health owns nursing home, provides nursing care. It was purchased several years ago when it was in bankruptcy and 100 jobs were on the line. It was in the neighborhood Hardiman grew up in, the northend. 90 to 95 are residents of the city
Sky Group Grand is a real estate holding division on Woodward Ave, They have about 50 employees. about 90% are residents of Detroit.
Their non profit arm helps seniors and youth. Also helps individuals coming out of prison who qualify for the program. They can't work in the nursing home by law but they can work in construction.