You got a brief glimpse of how things are going to go on this project when the LENS team tried to slip an additional $60,000 into an appropriation of $50,000 for Skanska, the construction management company.
Seems like a small amount in a $50 million dollar project. But it begins to set the tone for how staff will operate and how this project will be managed. The boys kind of got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The arguments were lame, the reasoning just plain stupid but the effort was very enlightening.
Never mind the fact that Skanska is a big outfit and they can't hardly sneeze for $50 million. Everyone has to know their plan is to make money on scope creep. That's a nice title for finding things that need to "managed" or "reviewed" that are just outside the scope of the original agreement, therefore requiring a change order costing more money. You better have some loose change lying around to keep the Skanska folks moving: ergo the $60,000.
The current City staff dealing with the likes of Skanska is a lot like David and Goliath, only David left the slingshot at home.
What is so disturbing about this is it continues the trend of managing this project from the dark side. Hiding things in the detail, hoping they won't get caught. The whole Pier effort started off this way and it will continue this way until the public puts an end to it once and for all.
Bringing in world class contractors for a project like this is a good idea, but sneaking them in the door is a whole other issue. These big guys know what's going on, and they know they must get in and get as much money as they can before the whole project comes down like a card house.
Keeping the staff, contractors, vendors in check in a project starting off like this one is all but impossible. With all of the maneuvering to keep this project alive and out of public view, look for a lot of hidden appropriations, unannounced deals and reports that are kept from the public.
Herein lies the problem. Every couple of weeks, staff quietly puts another seemingly small agreement or contract in place. It's like a spider spinning a complex web. At some point the thing is just too complex and convoluted to take apart. That's the staff's goal, that's the objective and it always has been.
If the LENS cannot be stopped, there needs to be a full time, independent auditor assigned to this debacle right now -- someone who reports to City Council and Council alone every month.
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Have your say. Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information at Stop The Lens.