L.A. Junior College Boondoggle

John Seiler: “Poor planning, frivolous spending and shoddy workmanship”

That’s the key phrase in an excellent L.A. Times investigative story that ran today on how a $5.7 billion L.A. community college bond was spent.

Keep that in mind as Gov. Jerry Brown and others demand $12 billion in new taxes for the state. About 40% of state general-fund spending goes to K-14 schools, including community colleges.

Although this was a local bond for L.A., it’s all part of the same broke, bankrupt and incompetent system. If so much money weren’t wasted at the local level like this, the locals wouldn’t need as much state money.

Moreover, as we’ve seen with the city of Bell and other scandals, “poor planning, frivolous spending and shoddy workmanship” is standard operating procedure for government.

More from the L.A. Times article.

The promise to L.A. voters:

The money would ease classroom crowding. It would make college buildings safer. New technology would enhance learning. And financial oversight would be stringent.

The reality:

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.

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.

Fixing the problems helped drive construction costs from $28 million to $43 million.

The Three Stooges could build better than these clowns.

More:

A new health and science center at Valley College was marred by defective plumbing, cracked floors, leaky windows and loosely attached ceiling panels that threatened to crash down in an earthquake.

The district paid a contractor $48 million to build the complex, but had to hire others to correct the problems and finish the project — for an additional $3.5 million.

At least those buildings were finished, eventually. At West Los Angeles College, officials spent $39 million to design and begin construction of four major buildings, only to discover that they didn’t have the money to complete them.

Just as crews were starting work last summer, the projects, including a $92-million athletics center, were abandoned.

Read the rest for yourself and weep for the wast of taxpayer dollars. (Part two is here.)

And resolve to oppose Brown’s tax increase.

Feb. 28, 2011



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