PIQUA — During the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, Piqua resident Bill Jaqua claimed that a city of Piqua employee is discriminating against his children’s business, Heritage Event and Catering.
“I’m here to represent my kids, Heritage Event, and for three years in a row now, our business has been discriminated against by the city of Piqua,” Jaqua said. “And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out, but we would like an answer.”
There is a list of 11 preferred caterers that the banquet hall at the Fort Piqua Plaza provides to those seeking to rent that space, according to Jaqua. To be on this list, Jaqua stated that the caterers have to give back to the banquet hall 10 percent of their earnings from any event they cater there.
In reference to the alleged discrimination, Jaqua is claiming that a city employee in charge of that banquet hall space has been recommending a specific caterer to parties looking to rent that space when they are asked for the employee’s opinion. Jaqua claimed that he has documented five times when this employee has recommended the caterer in question over the other 10 businesses on that list of preferred caterers. The caterer in question also is not based within the city of Piqua.
“We just want to be on equal footing. We want you to quit discriminating against us,” Jaqua said.
Jaqua added that he wants the city “to quit sending the banquet business” out of the city.
In an interview on Wednesday, Jaqua claimed that he has twice sent secret shoppers to the banquet hall to speak with that employee. Jaqua also claimed to have hired a private detective who recorded the employee allegedly recommending the same specific caterer over the other 10 businesses.
After Jaqua sent the first secret shopper to the banquet center, he stated that Heritage Event and Catering began receiving business at the Fort Piqua Plaza after speaking to city officials about the situation.
“It held for about three months,” Jaqua said.
Jaqua did not dispute that the employee’s recommendation for the other caterer is that employee’s personal opinion; however, Jaqua did claim that as an employee of a government agency that employee should not be giving out personal recommendations.
“It’s a government … they don’t get to choose winners and losers,” Jaqua said. Jaqua added later, “It’s an improper relationship.”
Jaqua stated that his children, the owners of Heritage Event and Catering, support his claims.
“They have asked me to speak in their place,” Jaqua said.
Jaqua also stated that litigation is currently not on their family’s radar.
“I think this is an injustice,” he said.
City officials, the city employee in question, and the mayor each declined to comment on this situation.
During the commission meeting, city of Piqua Mayor Kazy Hinds said she had a conversation with Jaqua about this situation and she was aware that he had spoken with other commissioners about it as well.
“We are in agreement that this is not the appropriate thing to do,” Hinds said Tuesday evening. “And we’re sorry this happened. This should not happen.”
Hinds also praised the city employee in question, stating that employee is a “great employee” and “does a great job” overall.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall