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Trump Invites Bids To Build Wall, Emphasizes Importance Of ‘Aesthetics’

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Trump Invites Bids To Build Wall, Emphasizes Importance Of ‘Aesthetics’


Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

President Donald Trump built his campaign on the promise of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. Just a month after his inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to begin construction. And last Friday, the department took a step to make sure it will look good. In a little-noticed update, the department now says it wants a wall that will be “nominally 30 feet tall,” and, importantly, that bids will be judged on “aesthetics,” as well.The new language, perhaps coincidental but likely not, appears to be a bureaucratic translation of Trump’s oft-repeated promise to build a “beautiful” wall from 30 to 55 feet high.Of course, the federal government does not typically focus on beauty in building its walls, fences, and barriers. Procurement officers prefer to evaluate bids on concrete things such as price or a company’s past performance — or, for that matter, concrete itself. As a contract requirement, appearances usually only figure into high-end projects (think of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial).But the Trump administration’s apparent demand for a wall with style is only one of the oddities that has arisen in planning for the massive project, estimated to cost as much as $21.6 billion and cross hundreds of miles.The rush for raising the wall has veteran contracting officers comparing the process to the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan, multibillion-dollar efforts widely considered failures because of poor planning.“This isn’t normal,” said Steven L. Schooner, a professor of government contracting at George Washington University. “This is shoot first, aim later.”

A CBP spokesman said the agency was “not in a position” to conduct an interview for this story.

The initial request, released with fanfare on Feb. 24, was not for building the actual wall, but for a prototype of a “total wall solution.”

The real bidding specifications — where the government would lay out details about the size, shape, and construction of the wall — have yet to be announced. It’s not clear when they will be.

In another bidding document posted last week, the department’s “Procurement Innovation Lab” acknowledged that erecting the wall was going to be complex business.

Lab officials asked for help from industry to map out a comprehensive plan. America’s current 2,000-mile long border with Mexico is defended by a patchwork of physical and natural barriers, supplemented by the presence of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents.

“This strategy will need to accommodate the entire Southwest Border, which has a quite diverse range of terrain, foliage, population, wildlife, and other features,” explained the notice, known formally as a request for information.

The document raised an unusual question: How should the government pay for the wall?

The answer is usually straightforward. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress appropriates funding for government projects.

In this case, however, Trump has vowed to make Mexico foot the bill, a proposition the Mexican government has vigorously rejected. Trump has responded by seeking cost savings. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that White House officials have suggested raiding the budgets of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to find money for the wall.

Perhaps reflecting the uncertainty, Customs officials asked interested parties for their own ideas, in the form of five-page white papers with “models for financing, constructing and maintaining the wall.”

Another question: Will building the wall require “major deviations” from federal law or regulation?

More than 500 companies have expressed interest in the project. They include the usual cast of giant construction firms involved in federal projects, such as Tutor Perini Corp, Fluor Corp, and KBR, Inc., a former subsidiary of Halliburton once known as Kellogg, Brown & Root.

But the list also includes more than a hundred smaller minority and veteran-owned firms, who receive special consideration under government contracting laws. Eleven percent of the companies are owned by Latinos.

Also among the interested parties: private security contractors, whose presence will almost certainly be necessary to protect the companies building the wall from protesters, vandals and thieves.

In war zones and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, such companies raised troubling questions about the use of force against civilians, including the murder of Iraqi and Afghan citizens. They also raised the price of some projects by as much as 25 percent.

IMAGE: Construction on the area around the port of entry from Mexico to the United States continues next to the border wall in San Ysidro, California, U.S., January 25, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Blake



  1. Phil Christensen March 9, 2017

    Even if ones supports this, one can still joke about it.
    It’s going to be ‘yuge.’ It’s going to be the greatest wall ever constructed. It’s going to make the Great Wall of the Qin Dynasty look like a child’s sand castle.

    1. Martha Bartha March 9, 2017

      Allah be Praised!

  2. Martha Bartha March 9, 2017

    Its gotta look pretty.

    1. jamcrky March 9, 2017

      believe me!

      1. Martha Bartha March 10, 2017

        I do. Why would you lie?????

        1. jamcrky March 10, 2017

          Martha just trying to add the Donald’s remarks he always uses, to add a little humor

          1. Martha Bartha March 10, 2017

            I understand. He was wiretapped by Obama. President’s can do that now like Nixon did. That FISA act doesn’t mean a thing, right?????

          2. idamag March 10, 2017

            Nixon tried to get the FBI to tap into the Democratic Headquarters and they told him it was illegal.

          3. Martha Bartha March 11, 2017

            Right! But somehow Obama was able to do it right?????

    2. idamag March 10, 2017

      Judging from the pictures of his apartment in Trump towers, he doesn’t know pretty. It will be garish like his home.

      1. iamproteus March 10, 2017

        Garish?? Ida, you are the epitome of a master (mistress) of understatement!

  3. Richard Prescott March 9, 2017

    Ha ha ha, this coming from a person with no style. I mean sprayed on tan, hair a color of orange and facial expressions bordering on an internal gas problem. This wall is not as important as the environment, nor health, nor education. It is a freaking wall.

    1. latebloomingrandma March 9, 2017

      I wonder if he wants it gold plated?

    2. idamag March 10, 2017

      Funny you should say that about his facial expressions. I likened it to a face of someone with constipation straining on the toilet.

    3. iamproteus March 10, 2017

      Richard, are you saying that trump is a gas bag?

  4. Dapper Dan March 9, 2017

    I can’t honestly believe this stupid wall will ever get built. Imagine trying to get land rights from property owners to build the damn thing. I can see lawsuits blocking construction getting tied up in litigation for years. Of course 45 will want to use eminent domain and that’ll get very costly. Trump by far is already the most useless President to ever occupy the WhiteHouse. He wants to cut the budgets of the Coast Guard and border patrol to help pay for this wall that will never be

  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 9, 2017

    I’m so touched by Trump’s concern for the aesthetics of the proposed wall. Not only does he gauge a potential woman to victimize for her “Attraction Score”, but will judge the winning bid on its visual appeal. Maybe a wall festooned with portraits of himself, protected by a composite acrylic enclosure to easily wipe off grafitti would get the nod.

  6. Rain March 9, 2017

    How can one be worried about the aesthetics of a monument dedicated to the opposite of everything America stands for . . . acceptance, inclusion and hope? The money should b

  7. Rain March 9, 2017

    be given to the fund for rebuilding America’s infrastructure. I am looking for us to build America not destroy it . . . both literally and figuratively.

  8. yabbed March 9, 2017

    So, can Trump begin to pay income taxes so he can do his part to pay for this nonsensical wall building boondoggle in the making?

    1. idamag March 10, 2017

      He has no investment in this country.

  9. latebloomingrandma March 9, 2017

    I’m having a hard time believing that the notoriously stingy Republican Congress would approve the money for this shameful, useless wall. The price tag is outrageous, most especially since he wants to cut actual programs that are necessary for our security, are going to screw the poorer people with their health plan, and need to put money into America’s falling down infrastructure. Does anyone have any common sense?

    1. FireBaron March 10, 2017

      Oh, it’s easy. They will eliminate school and senior lunches, tax credits for working families, military raises, eliminate 90% of the workers in national parks, defund immunization programs, etc. However, once Mexico pays their share, they will think about restoring those functions. Either that or they will give another tax break to the top 0.1%

    2. idamag March 10, 2017

      They will if they, and their donors can make millions off it. Look how rich Halliburton and subsidiaries got from the Iraq war while we are still paying for it.

  10. ralphkr March 10, 2017

    The only reason for a wall is that it must spell out Trump’s name so it can be read from outer space and visiting aliens can know from whom to ask permission to land and give gifts.

    A far more efficient and economical barrier would be to clear a two mile wide swath on the Mexican side of the border wit very cheap acquisition cost and yuuuge since we know that only grass huts and cardboard boxes exist there (If Mexico protests it I am sure a nuke or on Mexico City will convince them to shut up). The cleared land shall then be sown with automatic aim & fire weapons, mines, sensors, and patrolled by armed drones. Next step shall be our Northern border and Eastern & Western coasts.

  11. bojimbo26 March 10, 2017

    If anyone does decide to do it make sure you get the money in advance , because you won`t get it once the `Wall` is built .

  12. FireBaron March 10, 2017

    Aesthetics – the US side will feature the same Pink Carrera Marble facing as Teflon Donnie Towers in New York. The Mexican side will look like rough concrete.

  13. idamag March 10, 2017

    The cost of the wall and the way he is agitating for a war somewhere and you will see the depression of the thirties as something you would exchange trump’s economy for. As someone on another board pointed out, he will probably want his name in 20 foot neon lights all over the wall. Our present anger is nothing compared to what it will be, against his supporters, in a year.

  14. Wrily March 11, 2017

    Reagan said, ” . . . tear down this wall”. Trump says build a wall. What happened to Republicans? Talk about flip-flopping.

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