Folks this post sets the record for time spent in drafts and it was this latest Rich Rainey installment from the Jefferson Parish Council cesspool on the topic of JPAC and Parish Capital Projects Director Reda Youssef that dictated I find a way to adequately explain the construction disaster that has squandered millions in state tax money. Adequately explain? By now everyone knows JPAC is money pit but with all the finger-pointing it is hard (but not impossible) to identify those most responsible. The last time I linked the State Legislative Audit Advisory Council meeting on the topic I came away feeling the Legislators were lost too. Hopefully this post changes that. Now the disclaimers and disclosures.
I’ve interviewed 1 person with first hand knowledge of the project, whom I’ve granted anonymity. I also obtained some fantastic research from the Citizens for Good Government, the people who are the most responsible for having the Legislative Auditor take a peek at the project. I’m also relying heavily on my own professional expertise on this topic and yes Virginia on this topic I would qualify in a courtroom as an “expert” for I am. Finally my original idea was to compare the beat reporting by the Times Picayune that covered the various change orders with the Legislative Auditor’s report on the project but the T-P reporting does not show in Google for the most part, which is odd considering how Newhouse Management are evidently SEO freakazoids but it is what it is. That said the research I obtained from the M&M sisters compensates for this somewhat. So with the fine print filled in let’s circle back to Rich Rainey’s piece from last week:
The Legislature has agreed to shovel $2.6 million more into construction of the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, already considered by many to be a $44.7 million money pit. But Parish Councilman Chris Roberts said he is still looking for answers about an earlier payment that attracted the ire of state fiscal watchdogs.
Roberts is demanding that Reda Youssef, the parish’s capital projects director, explain why he balked at approving a $5.6 million payment in 2009 to the project’s general contractor. “Everyone is dealing with it like it’s plutonium, and no one is addressing the matter,” Roberts said. “And it’s not like it’s going to go away.”
Mini-me is correct this is not going away and when I saw the story my initial reaction was Reda Youssef was headed for the chop shop. I realized that after reading this:
But Parish President John Young countered Wednesday that the questions had already been asked and answered. And Youssef said he approved only half the request because the rest dealt with charges for delays, an area of project management beyond his scope.
I disagree with Parish President Young that these questions have been answered, at least with a good answer. To hone in on duplicity here we need to check in with the Legislative Auditor’s report on Change Order 5, which is the heart of this matter: Continue reading “Slabbed does a compare and contrast on Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center change orders: Elton Lagasse has some ‘splaining to do.”