Whudda you figure Caldarera had estimated as profit going into the $26MM project? At a 10% margin the total profit on the job would be $2.6MM. Yesterday he collected almost 3 times that in delay charges (on top of the millions in delay charges already paid) as the final shafting of the Louisiana taxpayers is almost complete. Once the boondoggle is complete next year it will house the performances of the taxpayer supported family and friends organization also known as the Jefferson Performing Arts Society.
Anyone know how much the evergreen costs will be required to pay for this boondoggle. The flood insurance alone is sure to be astronomical.
Welp, folks I think what we have now in the council chambers is a bona fide circus with Heather Hilliard busting team Young for using their private email accounts to conduct the public’s business plus Joe Caldarera is running back to the Parish Council to tattle on Deb Foshee. None of these are exactly confidence inspiring developments, especially in the Parish council for tolerating Joe Caldarera’s end runs around their attorney.
Other letters were written by Whitmer’s wife, their two daughters and the fiance of one daughter; his brother, Charles Whitmer, former deputy police chief in Gretna, and Charles Whitmer’s wife; Henry Trapani, the parish’s retired citizens services director; D.J. Mumphrey Jr., an executive assistant to Coulon; Feleciano “Junior” Mendoza, who was Jefferson Parish human resources director as well as Whitmer’s middle-school principal; Angela Pacaccio Darvin, who worked 30 years in the parish president’s office; Jimmy Frickey, who is married to a former subordinate of Whitmer; Randy Cousin, a longtime friend who runs an industrial supply company where Whitmer has worked the past 2½ years; Sarah Gibson, a friend; the architect Billy Sizeler; and tourism businessman Warren Reuther Jr.
Drew Broach did an excellent job detailing Tim Whitmer’s “firehouse” friends late last month, some of whom share common roots in the Jefferson Parish political cesspool. No doubt everyone noted that I emphasized Sarah Gibson and her letter above, whom Broach described as a Whitmer friend. True dat because she obviously is per her own words. But Mrs Gibson’s letter is cleverly wordsmithed, for lack of a better term or perhaps “written to the inside”, a term folks like my internet BFF Russell over Reflexiones Finales has applied to Slabbed. Let’s start with her letter to Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon:
So Sarah’s husband is very close to Tim Whitmer being the Godfather to Tim’s eldest daughter. Sarah’s husband is Jefferson Parish Parks and Recreation Director Clinton “C.J.” Gibson, who according to Parish salary records draws a $124,000 plus annual salary. Parks and Recreation is also the cesspool from whence Tim Whitmer came so I guess it was only natural that when Parish Engineering Department refused to pay double what they thought was the proper amount for Change Order #5, he turned to his old friend C.J. Gibson in Parks and Recreation to handle the financial aspects of these specious transactions. A step further, turning the financial aspects of a major construction project over to the people running the playground is nonsensical and the fact the employees whose normal job duties refused to have anything to do with a transaction that was essentially doubled tells the whole tale and it stinks worse than a roadkill skunk in the July Pineville Louisiana summer heat. I highlighted the salient part of page 23 of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s compliance audit on the center, the entirety of which can be found clicking here: Continue reading “BFF Forever: Whitmer sentencing letters give color to infamous JPAC Change Order 5”
Folks I must say I am disappointed by the media coverage of today’s showdown at the Jefferson Parish Council meeting between the politicians and General Contractor Joe Caldarera as they choose to focus the faux battle between the culpable politicians and the General Contractor that has schooled them in the ways a seasoned construction contractor can take advantage of the array of fools the Broussard administration and the Parish Council put in place to oversee the debacle. Sheeba Turk and the Channel 4 gang, rarely seen at the Yenni Building are today on site at the proverbial scene of the crime on Airline couching today’s council meeting as Calderera “defending his honor”. What a joke but it fits in a 2 minute segment which is why it is on the TeeVee. I did not think Manuel Torres did it justice this morning either over at NOLA.com though his previous report on the topic along with those here and here are very good.
So what is the smoke and mirrors scenario the politicians and Joe Caldarera are trying to set up today? Simple, the council is on the verge of giving Parish Attorney Deb Foshee the authority to declare Caldarera in default on the JPAC contract. She is negotiating a final settlement to the project with Caldarera and that authority would give her additional leverage over Caldarera in negotiations, which are close but not quite there. Caldarera does not want Foshee to have that authority so he is showing up to to Peacock and Prance in “defense of his honor”. With this whole bunch there is no honor, only shark fins.
The bottom line is Delay Claim Joe seems to have a certain fondness for parking his equipment on site and if I had to guess is passing along that costs as part of his delay claim. To hear Caldarera tell it he is being super magnanimous which, in a more rural environment here down south would be termed “Pure D Bullcrap”. To hear Chris “Mini-me” Roberts tell it, the council was the victim of bad advice, conveniently ignoring the fact the Legislative Auditor, among others has pinpointed Robert’s own council aid Deano Bonano as having a major role in the taxpayer funded boondoggle. Tim Whitmer, who recently was subject of several glowing reviews submitted to the court before his sentencing for Broussard era felonies to which he was party was also instrumental in the disaster along with current Councilman at large Elton LaGasse.
Fact is there is plenty of blame to go around and I’d assign about 40% of the blame to the council members who ramrodded this project when it commenced, with the other 60% going to Aaron Broussard himself, who ultimately made the call to begin construction and issue a notice to proceed despite the fact everyone knew the design and plans were deficient. That ill fated decision along with a gaggle of others made by the same group of megalomaniac incomps is the reason the structure is years late and double the original estimate.
If my theory is right though, there is more than 100% of the blame to go around because the old saying pigs get fats, hogs get slaughtered comes to mind as we gotta hammer Joe Caldarera’s delay claims. How were they calculated and do they include “sweeteners” like idle equipment and along with equipment and utility costs for the holiday light display he put up back in 2010? The devil is in those details and I think people at the state level are getting hip to those concepts.
The bottom line is there will be lots of noise at today’s council meeting.
For those of you that think a structure specifically designed as a theater has any real commercial value with the design flaws this place comes with better think again as there is a very limited market for such specialized structures, especially building with below grade infrastructure that will perpetually require expensive flood insurance coverage. And completing this project is only throwing more good money down the toilet considering Caldarera wants another $8.4 million to simply crank the project back up.
The prudent choice, as James points out, is to buy some dynamite.
When politicians bob and weave, it is evident they are trying to deceive and that is certainly the case yesterday at the Jefferson Parish Council meeting as councilmen Chris Roberts and Elton LaGasse took turns trying to distance themselves from their own bad decisions (and worse in the case of LaGasse) regarding the JPAC debacle, 4 years and 79% over budget and counting in the making.
We’ve covered JPAC in-depth here in Slabbed but the picture on the right allows me to reinforce a point regarding the contractor’s specious delay claims which have thus far been paid without much question and on one occasion, with the “help” of councilman LaGasse via a management override that in turn causes people to think he may be on Joe Calderera’s payroll. Before we get to the information contained picture though let’s explore a snippet from Broach’s story:
Roberts asked whether anyone is even working these days on the site, at LaSalle Park in Metairie. Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani said the job is basically at a standstill: The general contractor, J. Caldarera & Co. Inc, “is having a hard time getting subcontractors to work because they haven’t been paid in two years.”
At least part of the reason is that the parish for months has been sitting on two change orders, one for another $8.4 million, requested by the builder. Parish attorney Deborah Foshee said Caldarera has sent the parish a “demand” letter for money, signaling potential litigation.
I’d happily report that my absence meant I’ve been up to something but such is not the case over the last few days as I took a break. This does not mean I don’t have some dynamite things in store for the Slabbed Nation this week but today we do a bit of catching up.
First up is the taxpayer funded money pit also known as the Performing Arts Center. Yesterday the T-P editorial board opined the project should be completed ASAP now that the state’s taxpayers are on the hook for another $9.9MM as the project’s costs has almost doubled since ground broke on the project years ago. Adding to the confusion is yesterday afternoon Bob Ross filed a post titled Affidavit clears up confusion on change order for Performing Arts Center in Metairie that frankly added to my confusion about change order #5 to the point where I gotta call bullshit. A close read of said Legislative auditor’s report on the change order clearly indicates there was a management override involved in that particular change order, management being for CAO Tim Whitmer and current councilman at large Elton LaGasse.
To the extent Whitmer has copped a plea in the wide ranging JP Corruption investigation and reportedly knows where all the “bones are buried”, one would naturally assume he has been questioned closely about his knowledge about whether Councilman LaGasse took a kickback to ram rod that particular change order through, reportedly with no documentation, that included a massive delay claim. I want to make clear this is only an allegation but given what has surfaced about Jiff Hingle and the new Plaquemines Parish Jail such is a fair question, especially as the taxpaying public tries to figure out how a $28MM project has morphed into a $52MM boondoggle. I’ll have more on change order 5 ASAP because it is clear Mr Ross has lots of catching up to do.
Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Jefferson, on Thursday temporarily blocked the use of almost $10 million in lines of credit to build the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie, saying he wants parish officials to explain why the project has ballooned in cost. Henry asked the state Bond Commission, which holds sway over credit for hundreds of state-financed projects, to delay the reauthorization of last year’s $10 million for one month.
Parish Council member Chris Roberts said he supported Henry’s actions. Roberts said he doesn’t think the parish administration has officially settled an issue that was raised in a scathing report by the legislative auditor’s office last year on the cost overruns at the long-delayed arts center. One change order of $5.6 million was paid even though Reda Youssef, capital projects director for the parish, said he could not certify more than $2.8 million.
Let’s circle back to my post of the 16th:
I figure if I am aware of the duplicity then Mini-Me must be as well thus putting Youssef to the question in a bit over a week at the council meeting in Grand Isle. I bet the council would be happy to see Youssef refute what he told the legislative auditors and he just may since he made up some of what he told them in an effort to shift blame to people like Bolotte. I see this as impossible situation….
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.”
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.