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Modesto nonprofit and its disabled workers get second chance to vie for city work

Modesto has allowed United Cerebral Palsy of Stanislaus County, a nonprofit to sell advertising on bus benches for two decades under a deal in which UCP pays the city a monthly fee and cleans and maintains the benches. UCP says the program has allowed it to provide jobs and teach employment skills to the disabled adults it helps. But Modesto now is poised to go with a Florida-based company for this service.
Modesto has allowed United Cerebral Palsy of Stanislaus County, a nonprofit to sell advertising on bus benches for two decades under a deal in which UCP pays the city a monthly fee and cleans and maintains the benches. UCP says the program has allowed it to provide jobs and teach employment skills to the disabled adults it helps. But Modesto now is poised to go with a Florida-based company for this service. United Cerebral Palsy of Stanislaus County

United Cerebral Palsy of Stanislaus County will get another chance to compete for an agreement with Modesto that helped pay for a UCP program that employed disabled adults, providing them with a paycheck and self-worth.

The City Council decided Tuesday not to award the agreement to Florida-based Creative Outdoor Advertising in place of UCP. The agreement allows a company to sell advertising on the city’s bus benches in exchange for maintaining them and paying the city a monthly fee.

UCP paid Modesto $14,400 last year while receiving about $150,000 in advertising revenue. That helped support a program that employed about 20 disabled adults who maintained the benches and were paired with job coaches.

UCP had done this work for 20 years, and its most recent agreement with the city ended in December. Modesto solicited proposals for a new agreement, with Creative Outdoor and UCP submitting them. This was the first time UCP faced competition.

City staff rated Creative Outdoor’s proposal superior based on its technical merits. Creative Outdoor was offering as much as $113,475 annually as well as other enhancements and upgrades, according to a city report. As context, Modesto Area Express has about a $20 million annual budget.

Creative Outdoor has been in this business more than 30 years and works with more than 250 cities and public transit agencies throughout North America, according to the city report.

But the council Tuesday decided on a do-over, and the city will issue another request for proposals. The council vote was 6-0. Councilman Doug Ridenour was not at the meeting.

UCP officials have said Modesto did not clearly spell out what it was seeking in its previous request. They also said they will work with local businesses to provide a stronger proposal.

UCP also received strong community support for it to continue with Modesto. It works with disabled adults who often cannot find employment elsewhere.

“This is about employing individuals with disabilities who otherwise would not have the ability to be employed,” said UCP Executive Director Keenon Krick in a previous Bee story. “... Looking at it from the human factor, we are giving opportunities to individuals. These individuals want to work and give back to the community.”

But UCP officials say there are pragmatic reasons to stay with them. The nonprofit hires local people who spend their paychecks at local businesses, and the nonprofit hires local companies to create the advertising.

Creative Outdoor Partners President David Gray said in a Wednesday phone interview that his company does not yet know whether it will submit another proposal. He added that he respects the City Council’s vote and that it has to make decisions that its members believe are in the best interest of their community.

Despite the do-over, the City Council will be required to award the new agreement based on the proposal with the most technical merit.

Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general assignment for The Modesto Bee. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and grew up in San Jose.
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