Poor planning, frivolous spending and shoddy work dog the sprawling system’s bond-financed construction program
Those are the headlines online on Part One of the LA Times powerful week-long investigate series by reporters Michael Finnegan and Gale Holland who examined what LA Community College District have done with the nearly $6 billion in taxpayer construction bonds.
The series is backed by interactive map, graphic on what each college got and a chart of the to 10 contractors and how much money they have donated to board members and to get the bond issues approved by voters.
With the election for four of the seven LACCD Board seats coming March 8, the series is a bombshell that ought to guide voters to cast ballots for fiscally responsible candidates like Lydia Gutierrez, Joe Essavi, Joyce Burrell, Erick Aguire and write-in candidate Mark Isler instead of the slate of candidates backed by the unions and developers.
They are Mona Field, Steven Veres, Miguel Santiago and Scott Svonkin. They must be held accountable or we are complicit in the waste, efficiency and corruption.
The heart of waste, efficiency and corruption is the power of money. The Times followed the money in terms of the contractors who are getting most of the nearly $6 billion and how much they contributed:
The effects of decades of neglect were all too visible at the nine
far-flung campuses. Roofs leaked. Furniture was decrepit. Seismic
protections were outdated.
In 2001, leaders of the Los Angeles Community College District decided
to take action. With support from construction companies and labor
unions, they persuaded voters to pass a series of bond measures over the
next seven years that raised $5.7 billion to rebuild every campus.
The money would ease classroom crowding. It would make college buildings
safer. New technology would enhance learning. And financial oversight
would be stringent.
That is what was promised to Los Angeles voters.
The reality? Tens of millions of dollars have gone to waste because of
poor planning, frivolous spending and shoddy workmanship, a Times
Bond money has paid for valuable improvements: new science buildings,
libraries, stadiums and computer centers. But costly blunders by college
officials, contractors and the district’s elected Board of Trustees
have denied the system’s 142,000 students the full potential of one of
California’s largest public works programs.
This picture emerges from scores of interviews and a review of thousands
of pages of district financial records, internal e-mails and other