Board of Trustees plans to extend engagement for Ray & Associates

September 22, 2021

By David Rowe, Associate Editor

While most businesses suffered during the pandemic, an Antioch-based janitorial firm prospered due, in large part, to six figure contracts from the Peralta Community College District (PCCD).

Ray & Associates Cleaning Systems was awarded a $700,115 contract by the district in May of last year to provide deep cleaning services at Peralta’s four colleges. More specifically, the contract called for Ray & Associates to “clean and disinfect all surfaces, fixtures, and appurtenances and wipe with an appropriate sanitizer to remove dirt, mold, stains, etc.” 

Ray & Associates was awarded the $700,115 contract under a health emergency declaration that authorized the chancellor to “enter into any and all contracts necessary, without advertising or inviting bids.” Ray & Partners managed to narrowly beat its competitors in bids for previous Peralta jobs. In the case of a 2017 RFP to clean classrooms and bathrooms at Laney college, for example, Ray & Partners submitted a bid of $49,000, or just $1,000 less than its rival, American Empire Building Services. 

Many medical experts now question the value of disinfecting surfaces as a way to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, given it is an airborne disease. As described in a January 2021 article in Nature, Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers Medical School, found “there was little to support the idea that SARS-CoV-2 passes from one person to another through contaminated surfaces. He wrote a pointed commentary for The Lancet Infectious Diseases in July 2020, arguing that surfaces presented relatively little risk of transmitting the virus.”

Despite questions about the efficacy of surface cleaning, the Peralta Board of Trustees plans to extend the contract for Ray & Associates to continue providing that service. 

Mark Johnson, Peralta’s executive director of marketing, communications & public relations, says the board plans to vote on the contract extension at either its September 28 or October 12 meeting. 

In an email to The Citizen, Johnson explained that “Ray & Associates came in and cleaned all the campus facilities that had been identified and prioritized for the start of the semester. I know that after they cleaned, surfaces were tested and all the rooms cleaned passed the tests, which allowed PCCD to open (with limits) on August 23rd.” Johnson did not indicate who performed the tests. 

Ray & Associates has been working with the Peralta district since at least 2016, according to documents reviewed by The Citizen on the BoardDocs site. Sadiq Ikharo was Vice Chancellor of General Services at that time. The district placed Ikharo on permanent leave in May 2019, just two weeks after then Chancellor Jowel Laguerre resigned. Atheria Smith is currently the interim Vice Chancellor of General Services for PCCD.

Ray & Associates received mixed reviews on its most recent cleaning efforts. Evelyn Lord, Head Librarian at Laney College, said they “did an excellent job. It’s the cleanest the library has been in years.” Professor Leslie Blackie reported a different experience, finding “dust on the counters” of the Laney biology lab. When Blackie checked with the administration, she was told that “the cleaning service did not want to enter the science labs due to concerns with live specimens and chemicals on counters.” She pointed out that the “science faculty was not advised of this decision ahead of the semester starting.” 

Given that PCCD has its own crew of custodians, Selwyn Montgomery, Senior Storekeeper at College of Alameda and a spokesperson for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 39, which represents the Peralta custodians, questions the need to hire an outside firm. In an email to The Citizen, Montgomery said he is “sure our custodial staff could handle this. Their jobs mostly consist of cleaning classrooms and offices daily.”

The Citizen reached out to Raymond Oiyemhonlan, the founder and CEO of Ray & Associates for comment on this story. While Oiyemhonlan initially expressed interest in scheduling an interview, he subsequently stopped responding to emails.

A resume attached to what appears to be Mr. Oiyemhonlan’s LinkedIn profile shows him as the General Manager of Ray & Associates from 2004-2010, which predates the period the firm did significant work for the Peralta district. Since 2010, his resume shows that Oiyemhonlan held positions with UCSF Medical Center and Aramark/CPMC Medical Center in San Francisco, where he currently works as an Environmental Services Manager. 

Ray & Associates also has a low profile for a vendor doing business with a large educational institution. The Citizen was not able to find a website for the company and it does not appear to have a social media presence. The business address (5013 Chaparral Court in Antioch) is a two story suburban home.  

Ray & Associates holds a business license in the city of Antioch and just became certified as a Domestic Stock Corporation with the State of California on September 20.