Gov's Appointee: Susana's big job creation project skipped NM companies; Improperly gave contract and jobs to out-of-state firms

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As the governor overseeing one of the state’s largest period of job loss and slowest recovery in the country, Susana Martinez has been touting the jobs created at the new rail hub in Santa Teresa.

The governor’s strategy is working. Right in our backyard of Santa Teresa there is a boom, with companies investing millions and creating hundreds of jobs…

This is all in addition to Union Pacific investing $400 million in a new rail facility, which is expected to create 600 jobs. –, Campaign website.

But now one of her own appointees to the board overseeing the state’s Construction Industry Division says the administration broke the rules in giving the $178 million contract, and the jobs that went with it, to out-of-state companies who had neither offices in New Mexico or permits to work here.


From today’s ABQ Journal:

The former out-of-state general contractor on the $400 million Union Pacific rail hub at Santa Teresa is accused of bidding for the multi-million-dollar construction job without a proper New Mexico license and hiring an unlicensed subcontractor…


Ames/Sundt JV was formed to act as general contractor on the massive rail yard project in Santa Teresa near the U.S.-Mexico border. The rail hub was expected to create 3,000 construction jobs and up to 600 permanent positions.

Union Pacific decided to relocate its intermodal facility from El Paso to nearby Santa Teresa after Martinez and the Democrat-controlled state Legislature approved a locomotive fuel exemption to the gross receipts tax and compensation tax in 2011.

Later that year, Union Pacific hired Ames/Sundt JV as general contractor for Phase Two of the rail hub project. The corporations involved included Ames Construction, headquartered in Burnside, Minn,. and Sundt Construction, which is based in Tempe, Ariz.

In April 2012, Kevin Yearout of Yearout Mechanical in Albuquerque sent an email to Martinez’s office, state Economic Development Director Jon Barela and J. Dee Dennis Jr., then-superintendent of the state Regulation and Licensing Division.

Yearout complained the joint venture wasn’t properly licensed under New Mexico law at the time it bid on the project in September 2011. He claimed the proper license wasn’t obtained until “after the fact” – some 75 days later.

Moreover, his email stated, the joint venture in March 2012 awarded a $23 million contract to install industrial piping on the project to a subsidiary of Sundt that didn’t have a mechanical license in New Mexico. Yearout’s company had bid on that work.

“So now we have the largest project in the state, and the poster child for the administration’s economic development program, being awarded to out-of-state, unlicensed contractors. I know this is not going to sit well with many of the Governor’s supporters,” wrote Yearout, who couldn’t be reached for comment this week.

Yearout serves on the state Construction Industries Commission as a Martinez appointee.


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