The mystery of how San Antonio event planner Gregorio Palomino, without experience in food distribution, printing a $ 39 million contract from the US Department of Agriculture to feed families in need during a pandemic is something that must be solved.
But the greater priority is to feed the families. Delaying it because Palomino’s struggle to deliver food justifies taking the contract from him and giving it to the company that can get the job done.
In individual letters sent last week by US Representatives Lloyd Doggett and Joaquin Castro to the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the two San Antonio representatives asked Perdue to investigate how the Palomino company, CRE8AD8, was awarded a contract.
“Why did the USDA decide to enter into a contract with an entity without a proven history or track record in fulfilling the basic tasks of the program for applicants with years of experience in this industry?” Castro wrote.
Doggett demanded that the contract be canceled, writing, “This contract was issued without a credible background check with an unlicensed company to do and without a work history showing the capacity to perform at the time of urgent public needs for competent delivery.”
Palomino cannot be trusted to provide an honest representation of himself or his company, nor can he be trusted to provide the vital services he contracts. In Express-News last Sunday, reporter Tom Orsborn detailed the scope and courage of Palomino’s lies, a word we use sparingly but cannot avoid in this regard. Lies that are easily refuted.
On the CRE8AD8 website, Palomino claims the iconic local company USAA, Valero Energy and Fiesta San Antonio as one of its clients. When officials from these companies denied having worked with Palomino or his company, he removed the claim from the website.
His LinkedIn profile cites services on the board of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, but the room says it’s not true.
It also erroneously seems to claim its operations in 27 cities around the world and the credentials “CMP” – Certified Meeting Professionals, designation by the Event Industry Council which represents extensive knowledge about meeting management. That is a council designation that according to Palomino has not yet produced.
Palomino’s attempt to explain the confusion to Orsborn was sad, starting with the words, “My CMP is a different acronym …”
This is similar to a doctor who says, “M.D. I am a different acronym …”
But all of Palomino’s misunderstandings will not be relevant – but still annoying because honesty is important, right? – If he provides important food for people who really need it. On Thursday, he sent 235 boxes of food, a trivial start.
The $ 39 million contract is for the Farmer Food Box Program for Families, which directs excess food to families who are experiencing financial difficulties due to a pandemic. This requires CRE8AD8 to buy 18 million pounds of food, pack it to 750,000 boxes, and transport the boxes to food banks and other non-profit organizations in seven states on June 30.
As Eric Cooper, who heads the San Antonio Food Bank, said failure in this case was not an option. But it is failure that we see today.
More than a potential failure to fulfill a contract, this is a failure of moral responsibility to feed the most vulnerable people. Palomino and CRE8AD8 should never have been awarded this contract, and we joined Doggett and Castro to ask why this happened.
As we wait for answers about this and the broader USDA program, cancel the contract and provide the company with a proven track record to fulfill the contractual and moral responsibility to feed the hungry.
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