The planned removal of several Confederate monuments will now be put out for public bid after two contractors initially involved with the project bowed out due to anonymous scare tactics.
The Times-Picayune reported this week that general contractor H&O Investments backed out of the job after company owner David Mahler said he and his wife received death threats at their office and home. In January, Mahler's $200,000 Lamborghini was destroyed in a suspicious fire in the parking lot of his Baton Rouge business. Another contractor, ALL Crane, issued a statement saying it would not be involved in the project.
The New Orleans City Council voted in December to declare the monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and the Battle of Liberty Place public nuisances. The removal of the monuments has been the center of heated controversy, including local preservation groups filing a federal lawsuit against the city to block their removal.
After a federal judge ordered the monuments could be removed, the City of New Orleans hired H&O Investments for the estimated $170,000 project through the Job Order Contract Program which allows the city to complete small jobs using firms from a pre-approved pool rather than putting the work out for a full public bid. Funding for the project is being handled by the Foundation of Louisiana, a private charitable organization, and as such the actual donors are anonymous.
The city will now put the project out for public bid which will make public the contractors interested in removing the monuments. The city has not made clear if public or private funds will be used.