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Smelling a Rat in a Hornet’s Nest: Council Plays Ball with Ron Tutor on LAX Contract

With its efforts to politicize the DWP without solving problems on hold for the moment, the City Council turned its attention to the massive construction program at LAX with questions about the integrity of its contracting practices and executive director Gina Marie Lindsey.

At issue was the awarding of a $271.5 million design-build contract for a new heating/air conditioning system to the Clark/McCarthy joint venture, the low bidder among the two qualified bidders.

A third bidder, none other than Ron Tutor’s Tutor-Perini formally protested the award back in August but was turned down after a City Attorney’s review.

That’s right that Ron Tutor, the contractor with an over-abundance of political clout and toughness to almost always get his way, the same Ron Tutor who not long ago traded in his Hidden Hills mansion for a $32 million 27,000-square-foot mega-mansion with 10 bedrooms and 13 toilets in Beverly Park while his two daughters are making do with a couple of new 12,000-square-foot bungalows priced in the $13 million range.

Led by a visibly angry and disdainful Tony Cardenas, the Council grilled Roger Johnson, LAX’s deputy executive director for airport development, like he was a suspect in a mass murder case.

Cardenas made it clear his real target was Lindsey, the highly regarded airport chief, because she might have had dealings with the winning bidder at her previous job in Seattle.

Johnson told him that he didn’t know if Clark/McCarthy was awarded a contract at Seattle/Tacoma Airport when Lindsey was there but assured him she had no involvement at any time during the contracting process.

“I beg to differ,” Cardenas retorted snidely.

Later, he resumed his prosecutorial posture, cutting off Johnson’s answers.

Even as his blood pressure was clearly rising, Johnson explained with
great patience the bidding process, how he set up 10 separate bid evaluation teams and got no direction from Lindsey who knew nothing about the process until he informed her of the winning bidder.

What’s even more amazing is why Tutor-Saliba was disqualified.

Johnson reported that unlike other bidders it used its own weather data — 20 degrees lower in the summer and five degrees warmer in the winter — to show the energy efficiency of its system.

Asked why, Johnson said the company offered “multiple conflicting responses,”  for its “misrepresentation of energy usage” and there were “discrepancies and misinformation” in its responses.

Then, just before the hearing on its protest, Tutor-Perini withdrew its proposal and dropped its protest, signing a settlement agreement with LAX without receiving any payment.

In other words, Tutor told LAX to go to hell and went to work on lobbying the Council — the same tactic used so successfully by well-connected insiders to politicize food and other concessions at the airport.

They found a willing ally in Dennis Zine who wanted to know why Tutor didn’t get the contract when he bid
$30 million less than the winner and built the existing heating/air
conditioning plant 50 years ago.

Huh?

Janice Hahn complained about Tutor-Perini’s heavily lobbying Council members to throw out the contract award.

Bill Rosendahl warned his colleagues they were jumping into a hornet’s next and politicizing the contract process in a destructive way by delaying a decision..

“It just allows another two weeks of politics around this horseshoe,” he said..

Eventually, the Council voted to continue the discussion until its next meeting on Jan. 4.

Before adjourning for the year, Council President Eric Garcetti offered congratulations to his colleagues for a “great, great calendar year” in which they solved the city’s budget crisis and did so much “to improve the lives of Angelenos” by voting on 23,675 measures — 99.93 percent unanimously.  .

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12 Responses to Smelling a Rat in a Hornet’s Nest: Council Plays Ball with Ron Tutor on LAX Contract

  1. Anonymous says:

    The pot calling the kettle black. This is how it is with our Mayor and Councilmembers. They will grill honest city employees like they are the problem. I hate this whole despicable bunch.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Janice Hahn is also the one who wanted to rush a vote on the issue before the New Year, and moved this issue UP on the agenda to noon, which she said would allow ample time to resolve everyone’s questions. Krekorian seemed annoyed at her when he reminded that he just found out that there was a dispute involved at all (guess he doesn’t follow the blogs and news that closely, it even made LAO) and in lawyerly fashion, wanted time to review the matter and not just ask questions off the cuff. To decide on what he pointed out was a multi-million dollar (billions of dollars?) expenditure.
    IF she was so upset about the Council being heavily lobbied, she should have taken more care. But gabbing instead of thinking is her way.
    Isn’t Tutor Saliba also the company which got a $50 million-+ contract to come up with an LAUSD inventory systems decades ago, but never delivered, and when pressed demanded MORE and more money claiming new “issues” came up? In the end I think the system was scrapped, having become obsolete by then. So the school system had plenty of supplies SOMEWHERE in storerooms, but couldn’t locate them, so classes either went without or teachers bought them out of pocket.
    While people were rewarded handsomely for their great incompetence.
    The way Cardenas treated Johnson and by extension Lindsay, who was in D.C., was typical of his and Alarcon’s imperious, Mexican style, the padrino to the peasant. Disgraceful.
    I’ll bet she can hardly wait to return to take her place. He was strongly implying favoritism on her part, but what about this Tutor-Saliba, which seems to think it’s entitled to whatever it wants. What HAS the company done successfully?
    The extent of falsehoods like fudging the summer weather his bid is based on by a full 20 degrees to make his bid sound best is astounding. Maybe he should run for City Attorney.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The D.A. or the Feds will get Lindsey, sooner or later, before she moves out of her Apt. and moves into the next job, she has desperately but unsuccesfully seeking.She has never relocated to LA. after 4 yrs. She commutes to work……..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is it not the same Lindsey who L. Chick audited for contracting irregularities based on many employees` complaints against her? Weren`t similar accusations, that she favored the company which worked with her in Seattle? Hm, I smell a pattern here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So either she’s up to something OR being framed, by a company and enablers who feel “entitled,” and as Ron points out, the namesake CEO and minions live like kings off of city and county contracts. A cith and county that are broke, by the way. BASIC City services are being cut left and right!
    WHAT other income/ SUCCESSFUL and profitable – to the client, not themselves – does Tutor-Saliba have? This controversy about the same company has raged for many years!

  6. James McCuen says:

    To December 17, 2010 4:58 PM:
    Whether you meant it that way or not, your comment: “The way Cardenas treated Johnson and by extension Lindsay, who was in D.C., was typical of his and Alarcon’s imperious, Mexican style, the padrino to the peasant. Disgraceful.” comes across as racist.
    The way Cardenas questioned Johnson was like a typical AMERICAN trial lawyer, very aggressive – its that simple.
    I very much appreciated Cardenas’ style when he questioned staff members of the CRA when they attempted to dance around the truth involving the hiding of a real estate appraisal.

  7. anonymous says:

    Reading “Tutor-Saliba” brought to mind something the went down with them in SF. Here’s one court doc on the case.
    http://skaddenpractices.skadden.com/fca/show_case_doc1.pdf

  8. Anonymous says:

    Usually Tudor-Saliba comes in lower on his bids, but in the end, it will cost about the same or more due to change orders. He is a master at it. There is always a controversy around projects that he wins based on price……….
    The airport management probably couldn’t control and/or manage the contract if he gets it, so he will feed off their incompetencies and the project will cost what Clark/McCarthy bid.
    READ MY LIPS – MASTER AT CHANGE ORDERS because City Government employees do not have the skill set to get the actual facts needed to avoid change orders…..
    This is an important project for LAX to get completed, so get on with the current winner and quit second-guessing everything for the sake of politics.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Usually Tudor-Saliba comes in lower on his bids, but in the end, it will cost about the same or more due to change orders. He is a master at it. There is always a controversy around projects that he wins based on price……….
    The airport management probably couldn’t control and/or manage the contract if he gets it, so he will feed off their incompetencies and the project will cost what Clark/McCarthy bid.
    READ MY LIPS – MASTER AT CHANGE ORDERS because City Government employees do not have the skill set to get the actual facts needed to avoid change orders…..
    This is an important project for LAX to get completed, so get on with the current winner and quit second-guessing everything for the sake of politics.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Garcetti: “Anyone want a voice vote on this?”
    Of course not, let the robotic voters which are set to “Yes” do all the work
    Why would the City Council want to rock the boat?
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/08/local/la-me-backroom9-2010mar09

  11. Master at change orders says:

    I am not familiar with this group. But there is another group that I am told is a “Master at change orders”. And if an error is their error, I don’t think that the contractor eats the cost of the error – the tax payers do. Something to think about whether at LAX, LADWP, Harbors, LAUSD, or LACCD.

  12. david barron says:

    “Change Orders” Now that’s a “Biggy” I look forward to getting into, if I get elected March 8, 2011.
    Respectfully,
    I’m david barron
    A current City employee. I oppose the leadership at City Hall.

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