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.