Waste, Fraud and Abuse LA Style

27 Feb

Today’s Los Angeles Times reveals a web of corruption, nepotism, incompetence and outright fraud with building projects for the L.A. Community College system. Due to poor planning and shoddy workmanship, a large portion of the $5.7 Billion in bonds has been wasted to no benefit.

At East Los Angeles College, construction of a grand entry plaza with a clock tower degenerated into a comedy of errors. Heating and cooling units were installed upside down, inspectors found. Concrete steps were uneven. Cracked and wet lumber had to be torn out. A ramp for the disabled was too steep for wheelchairs, and the landmark clock tower listed to one side.

The problem is not confined to poor workmanship. Plans were made for various structures only to be abandoned, relocated or redesigned significantly rendering original designs useless.

At L.A. City College, architects were hired to design a five-story fitness center with a glassed-in dance studio on the top floor. Before construction began, the college president decided to move the fitness center to the other side of campus. There, it would need to be short and wide, not tall and narrow.

The $1.8-million design was suddenly worthless. The district paid architects $1.9 million to draft a new one.

Decision making was done by an obscure Board of Trustees with little oversight and no experience in construction management. They relied on the counsel of the contractors. The money was held by the Presidents of the indvidual colleges, who made changes, along with the input of faculty and the Unions.

What could go wrong?

The contractors put up most of the money for the ballot initiatives for floating the Bonds to the public and they passed overwhelmingly each time.

The end result: a cuckoo clock tower, a hen house that isn’t capable of staying below oven temperature in the summer, and a newly renovated theater being replaced with a new building and the wrecking ball used on the other.

At Southwest College, the district spent $2 million on a parking lot shaded by solar panels. With the work half-finished, the project was abandoned, leaving rows of steel poles protruding from the fresh blacktop.

Why? The college president, Jack E. Daniels III, had decided that a performing arts center should be built there instead.

The list goes on and on. You really should go read the whole thing. You might need a Jack E. Daniels to get through it, though.


Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Spending


2 responses to “Waste, Fraud and Abuse LA Style

  1. Someone Garcia

    February 28, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I work with a contractor ( detailer) who is working on the Pierce and Mission College. Long and short the Design of Pierce was supposed to be completed but after the district shelled out enormous monies for the shoddy design, the architects had to redo it. Structural steel designs were also off and that had to reworked in addition the plumbing outfit we had to deal with had their own shoddy engineers who have no concept of plumbing all the while we all are butting heads because the Architect, engineers and all contractors are fighting with each other whether they use BIM ,Design /build with various computer applications which are not standardized. Everyone wants their own computer program to look good, to show off 3D modeling as a Dog and pony show for customers.
    Pre-fabrication is the game right now, many contractors want pre-fab to “minimize the guys to think too much.” As my Project manager says “We don’t want them to pull a tape”
    Now they do most of the work off the field in pre fab shops and the office personnel gets the money, less for the men on the field.
    In addition we have countless office pukes who are related and they only show up once a week and charge the job. This what we all have to pay for.

  2. Saddlesore

    February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I don’t have any specific knowledge of the projects you refer to, but somehow I am not surprised by what you describe.
    If these people where subject to real world limits (i.e. limited budgets and losing their jobs if they fail) maybe the results would be better.

    As someone who invests in real estate investment trusts, I see how these firms can build a project, lease it and actually make a profit and pay a dividend. So what is the public sector doing wrong? Probably everything.


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