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LAT Finds Waste In $5.7B College Rehab

From the Los Angeles Times:

Times community college investigation unearths shameful waste

By Steve Lopez
March 6, 2011

"It’s just sad."

That’s what East Los Angeles College student George Escobar had to say as we looked in the direction of a new clock tower that was built crooked and had to be fixed at an additional cost of $157,000.

Sad, outrageous, scandalous, shameful. You could pick any of those words, or all of them, to describe the waste and abuse documented in a weeklong Times series about the Los Angeles Community College District’s $5.7-billion building program…

Near the formerly crooked clock tower on the East L.A. campus, heating and cooling equipment was installed upside-down. A ramp for the disabled was too steep for wheelchairs. Bonehead moves like that drove construction costs from $28 million to $43 million

Sure, there have been solidly built, badly needed projects, too. But the new health center at Valley College had bad plumbing, cracked floors, loose ceiling panels and leaky windows.

And why do they have a ‘health center’ anyway?

At West Los Angeles College, $39 million was spent on buildings that couldn’t be completed when money ran out.

At Valley College, a theater was renovated for $3.4 million and then scheduled for demolition when officials decided to build a new one.

At L.A. City College, $1.8 million was spent on an architectural design for a fitness center, but the school president decided instead to build the center on the other side of campus, so architects were paid $1.9 million for a new design.

Throughout this debacle, costs were often doubled because the district hired workers whose job was to hire workers. The bill for that kind of nonsense was in the millions…

And the following will not surprise you:

Contractors and labor unions donated to district trustees. Contractors and labor unions got jobs.

Contractors and labor unions donated to support bond measures. Contractors and labor unions got jobs.

In other words, the people who ended up benefiting from these projects were the same people who put the ‘trustees’ who approved them into office.

Like vultures, some of the most politically connected players in L.A. swooped in and got fat contracts despite past investigations into their dealings. One player who got a piece of the action pleaded guilty last December to a misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charge involving jobs in another school district — Los Angeles Unified.

As for the genius the college district hired to keep an eye on how the $5.4 billion got spent — Larry Eisenberg — you know you’re in trouble when your oversight guy approves funds for a video biography of himself, complete with childhood photos and a soundtrack

One of the most astounding aspects of the series is that, as my colleagues have pointed out, only one trustee, Georgia Mercer, has responded in any depth to questions. Not that she’s done much other than defend the district…

This column attempts to summarize the six part series the Los Angeles Times published on their investigation into the corruption involved in the $5.7 billion dollar re-build of the LA’s community colleges.

But read the full series if you want to know why there are problems with public sector unions.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, March 7th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “LAT Finds Waste In $5.7B College Rehab”

  1. P. Aaron says:

    Looks like the shovels and holes were ready before the drafting was done?

  2. Chuckk says:

    Californians just voted Jerry Brown for governor. They deserve what they get.

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