As you know, city council had two items about the San Jacinto project. As expected, the majority of the discussion was had in executive session. In other words, more secrets and little facts from which the public can make an informed decision on what their government is doing with the community’s money. As you know there is much rumormongering about what is going on with the contractor and the completion date of the project. As is usual, we do not know whether the project is on budget or not.
Hours, after city council discussed the issue on executive session, none of the rumors were addressed by city council. There were rumors that the contractor had defaulted on the project and the political rhetoric certainly made seem so but in reality there were no facts one way or the other.
The good news is that the issue about bathrooms was finally addressed. According to the public discussion, the city has decided that bathrooms are actually needed. What it appears they are doing now is identifying at least two city owned properties in the vicinity and making bathrooms available for users of San Jacinto at those locations. It appears that the only cost will be the development of the bathrooms. The price for the proposed public bathrooms will be about $100,000 each. This is according to Tommy Gonzalez’ commentary at the meeting.
In executive session item two, the item on the agenda discussing the contract that was awarded to Basic IDIQ for the project, the city issued the following pro forma statement through the council’s mayor pro-tempore, Cortney Niland. It stated:
“Upon the advice of the city attorney’s office…direct the city attorney to initiate contact with the contractor’ surety…to monitor the progress of the project…to emphasize the importance of making meaningful progress on the project…for the city attorney to gather the factual information needed to inform the council about the project…and to direct the City attorney to place an item on the agenda for a weekly briefing until the project is completed.”
It was also stated that it is the “preference” the city attorney’s office and Tommy Gonzalez that all future comments about the project emanate directly from their offices.
In essence, what the city told us is that it is not as simple as the contractor’s incompetence, their inability to do the work on the budget they bid on or a default of the contractor. Look closely at the city’ statement, it says that the city attorney should make contact with the contractor’s surety company to begin a dialog about timely completing the project. It seems like the contractor’s insurance company is being contacted by the city but in the same comments the city attorney is being asked to “gather the factual information needed to inform the council” about the project. It also states that city council wants a weekly report on the status of the project.
Does this mean that Basic IDIQ did not default on the project? No, but at the same time it does not say that they did. This is typical city propaganda to deflect attention with innuendo and rumormongering.
As a matter of fact, Diana Washington quoted Sylvia Firth Borunda, the city attorney, as stating that the city has “asserted” its “right under the contract to assess liquidated damages of $1,000 for every day that the project is not completed,” however Firth Borunda is also quoted as stating that “work on the project has not stopped.” Washington further quotes the city attorney as adding that the city “as recently as Tuesday on how the work is going to advance.”
Work is progressing, the city attorney is gathering facts and everyone seems to agree that finishing the project as quickly as possible is paramount. There are rumors that there are significant cost overruns and that the contractor is at fault, however no definitive statements to that effect have been issued, yet the public perception is that the contractor is the reason the project has been so delayed.
If the fault lies on the contractor, why all of the carefully crafted statements under the guise of “legal advice” while the contractor continues to work on the project. Why are bathrooms all of a sudden a necessity? During the public comments, it was stated that the sod has not been placed because there are still cables that need to be trucked in for the Lagarto canopy.
That makes sense, but remember it appears that the city is the one that is managing the cables for the canopy that according to an anonymous blogger on Newsies, is being brought in from Germany. If this is true, then is the delay a problem with the contractor, the city or both.
As you can tell we are no closer to the truth then we were before this latest pontificating by city council. Typically, this is par for the course when the city has something to hide.
It will be a long time before we know, if ever, what truly happened but in the meantime the rumormongering is what is driving public commentary on this issue.