By Augustine Ugalde
Will somebody please explain this to me?
Call me naïve; call me ignorant, I don’t care. I have big shoulders.
I can take it, but I must say that all this ruckus coming out of the Los Angeles Community College District by way of the Los Angeles Times has me confused.
The Times has made some very pointed, critical and highly charged accusations about the mismanagement of tax-payer money leveled directly at the LACCD and its colleges.
It makes little sense to go over the particulars at this point.
It has all been said and dissected by those whose job it is to do this type of work, so re-telling the same story will just become redundant.
To be sure there will be additional allegations leveled at other district schools when one considers that the Times report of February 27, was only the beginning.
The word accountability has been bandied about in a most casual way as if it were some sort of unattainable precept that the LACCD simply cannot fathom.
My question is simple.
If two parties enter into a contract doesn’t that mean that both parties are expected to honor that contract?
I just had my kitchen remodeled and entered into an agreement with a contractor that called for specific changes to be made in exchange for an agreed upon price.
Fortunately, the contractor lived up to his end of the deal and delivered what I had contracted him for and consequently, I held up my end of the deal by paying the agreed amount of money.
This was a legal and binding transaction and contract.
This is the way it’s supposed to work.
Let’s look at the problems associated with the Performing and Fine Arts Complex, which was completed last year for example.
It was discovered that the contractor, who was entrusted to build this complex failed to satisfy ADA requirements that were established in 1990.
The question that comes to mind is who, in this day and age, could ever build such a complex without making it ADA compliant?
Everywhere we turn in today’s world we are reminded of the landmark decision that promised to accommodate the disabled when accessing buildings, restrooms, parking lots, street corners and public transportation.
And this contractor forgot.
I wouldn’t have paid this company a dime more than what I contracted it for and as a matter of fact would have insisted that it pay to correct this gross oversight at its expense.
Somehow the LACCD and its member schools have had to pony-up millions of tax-payer dollars because of the incompetence of the hired contractor.
Whatever happened to living up to your contractual obligations?
Much has been said about how the district failed to hire an independent consultant to oversee the construction.
This consultant would have been able to advise the district on the progress, results and future plans its contractors were planning.
This watchdog firm, it is said, would have prevented the gross improprieties that had occurred throughout the district, but that leads to yet another question.
Where was the county building and safety and planning commissions?
Many years ago, I had to build a car port for one of my tenants and the Los Angeles County Housing Authority was all over me.
An inspector had to inspect, approve and sign-off at every step in the construction process in order for the construction to continue.
Where was the vigilance at these campus construction sites?
Maybe some questions are best left unasked.
Again, I’m just a regular guy with no real insight to the clandestine negotiations involving the LACCD and its contractors, but I can say that I know what’s right from wrong.
What is happening here can only be described as wrong.