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We have heard rumors for years that Dennis Mehiel, the Chairman and CEO of the BPCA and wealthy businessman who made his riches in the paper container business, somehow used the female and Latino status of his wife to gain lucrative contracts with large companies and states. So, we did some digging, and easily uncovered the evidence.
First, as way of background on Mr. Mehiel, when he was running for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 2002, at age 60 (he is now 73), The New York Post exposed the fact that Mr. Mehiel had fathered not one, but two, children out of wedlock while he was still married to his first wife.
The Post wrote, “Carl McCall’s running mate for lieutenant governor, Dennis Mehiel, admitted yesterday that he fathered two out-of-wedlock children, with two different women, while married to his first wife…. “I’ve never tried to conceal anything . . . I love all my children very much,” said Mehiel, 60, a multimillionaire Westchester businessman who has refused for weeks to disclose details about his children…. aid he fathered his first out-of-wedlock child in 1993, a year after he and his first wife separated for good…. Mehiel said his second out-of-wedlock child was born several years later and that he divorced his first wife in 1999. Mehiel, who vowed to stay in the lieutenant governor’s race, said he married his second wife, Karen Agueros Mehiel, in 2001.”
It is this second wife, who now goes by Karen Mehiel, to whom Mr. Mehiel transferred 51% of the ownership of one of his container companies, thereby making this new company, KAMPACK, a female-minority company. In an industry trade journal called The White Sheet, an article in 2013 featured quotes from Mrs. Mehiel.
The article stated, “In January 2011, Mehiel, wife of U.S. Corrugated Chairman Dennis Mehiel, acquired 51 percent of the company, then called Mannkraft. The purchase allowed Karen Mehiel to pursue on behalf of KAMPACK (the first three letters of the company’s new name are Mehiel’s initials) certification as a woman-owned company. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certifies companies to major corporations that have supplier diversity programs.
Given my background as an Hispanic, we subsequently obtained certification by the State of New Jersey as a Minority and Woman Business Enterprise (MWBE), ”Mehiel says. These certifications provide an introduction for Fortune 500 businesses for KAMPACK, as well as its USDG subsidiary, as a corrugated packaging supplier… Then we were awarded a very large block of business.”.
This style of gaming the system has been seen throughout the Dennis Mehiel BPCA administration. The rules of the RFP contracting process seem to be a mere nuisance to the BPCA. Contracts are awarded routinely to the most expensive, least experienced company. Cronyism and campaign donations matter more than the RFP application, it seems.
For example, a recent BPCA RFP was awarded to Stantec to redesign the southern portion of BPC. They beat out the world renowned PPS, which offered to do the project at almost half the cost of Stantec. Nevertheless, PPS lost.
Dennis Mehiel was appointed to the BPCA by Governor Cuomo. Mehiel has donated more than $365,000 to state officials, including Cuomo, just since 2012.