Portland fines contractors for allegedly creating ‘front company’ to certify as woman-owned business

The city of Portland announced Wednesday that a painter’s owners will be fined $ 20,000 for allegedly setting up a “frontline company” to qualify as a women-owned company. The city accuses Portland Coatings of winning more than $ 1 million in contracts while falsely claiming to be owned by a woman.

Portland had been investigating Terezia Nyland and her husband Michael since 2017 after the city ombudsman’s office received an unspecified lead. The city said the Portland Coatings address is actually the loading dock for a company Michael Nyland owns, Williamsen & Bleid.

In addition to the $ 20,000 fine, the city suspended the Nylands’ authority to do business for the city for three years. Nylands attorney said Tuesday they plan to question the city’s results.

“Terezia Nyland is and has been the majority shareholder and managing director of Portland Coatings,” lawyer Matthew Colley wrote in an email. “She and her husband did nothing wrong and they are being upheld on appeal. Portland Coatings’ certification in the US state of Oregon is current and has been renewed every year since 2011, when the certification was first issued. “

This is the first time Portland has enforced a 2015 law that gives the city the power to investigate whether companies qualify for public contracts that favor “disadvantaged companies”. This category includes businesses run by Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, and others who have historically had less access to lucrative government jobs.

Former Oregon reporter Tony Green was investigating the case for the City Ombudsman’s Office, which is a division of the city’s accountants. Green left the paper in 2008.

Former Oregonian / OregonLive reporter Gordon Friedman, who covered the Nylands case during the city’s 2019 investigation, left the paper later that year and joined the auditor’s office.

Last month, Friedman contributed to a city audit that found that Portland’s efforts to reduce the gap in construction contracts for city works had some impact. “However, they also suffered from design flaws and mismanagement and were prone to play art.”

– Mike Rogoway | twitter: @rogoway | 503-294-7699

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