By Michael Finnegan and Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/eZlc4D [UPDATED 27Feb11]
Larry Eisenberg, head of the construction program, right, at a meeting. In an April 2009 e-mail, he told his construction chief that quality control was "horrible," adding: "We are opening buildings that do not work at the most fundamental level." (Christina House / For The Times / May 24, 2010)
February 26, 2011, 8:11 a.m. - 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 Seismic protections were outdated.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 investigation found.
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 documents.
smf: THIS IS PART ONE AN EXTENDED WEEK LONG SERIES OF REPORTS ON THE LACCD BUILDING PROGRAM. This article to too long to place in 4LAKids/4LAKidsNews in it’s entirety – but it is critically important. As I am a lead plaintiff in a pending lawsuit alleging wrongdoing in the LACCD building program and in the governance of the Community College District I am not going to opine any further. I strongly suggest 4LAKids readers read on on and become familiar with this story.
Part 1: THE PRICE OF POOR PLANNING, WEAK OVERSIGHT
A pattern of chaotic management, costly blunders and hiring of relatives emerges from interviews and thousands of pages of internal e-mails.
Part 2: A FAILING GRADE FOR A NEW SCIENCE COMPLEX
Crooked cabinet doors, faulty plumbing and a lack of temperature controls mar Valley College's health and science complex. Newly opened, it needed extensive repairs.
Coming Thursday - Part 3: NEEDLESS LAYERS ADD MILLIONS TO STAFFING COSTS
Some contractors have been paid generously to serve as "body shops" for staffers supervised by others. The resulting markups have doubled, even tripled, taxpayers' costs.
Coming Friday - Part 4: NEW TRACK AND FIELD CAN'T GET TO THE FINISH LINE
City College, with a legacy of excellence in sports, spent millions to replace aging athletic venues. Yet students are still waiting for a new physical education center, track and field.
Coming Saturday - Part 5: A FAMILY FIRM GETS ITS SHARE
A Mission College vice president helped oversee the construction program. Among the subcontractors on her campus was a company she owned with her husband.
Coming Saturday - Part 6: A COSTLY LESSON IN THE LIMITS OF GREEN ENERGY
The college system would generate all its own electricity through solar panels and other green technology. It was an alluring vision, but gravely flawed.