Los Angeles Community Colleges Will Restart $6-Billion Construction Program

The Los Angeles Community College District will restart its $6-billion construction effort, after a long moratorium following questions about the district’s construction contracts and spending, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The construction program had been derailed by an 18-month investigation by the Times, which showed that the district had wasted millions of dollars on poorly planned projects, in blunders that included significant errors in construction, the hiring of trustees’ relatives, and contracts with third-party contractors who tacked on millions in added costs. After the newspaper’s investigation, the state controller’s audit found that the district had wasted up to $140-million in taxpayer money and “could not produce complete and timely records, spent funds outside voter-approved guidelines, ignored its own procurement rules, failed to plan effectively, and provided poor oversight of bond funding.”

The moratorium was lifted when some of the issues were addressed, officials told the Times. One of the main casualties of the exposé was Larry Eisenberg, director of the construction program. He was fired following the Times investigation.

Before the investigation, the construction program was lauded for its green goals—specifically, a plan to take the community-college district off the grid with renewable energy. For that, Mr. Eisenberg quickly became a star speaker at conferences for sustainability and facilities conferences. But the Times investigation found that the renewable-energy program was “wildly impractical” and that Mr. Eisenberg had overestimated the amount of power the colleges could generate, underestimated the cost, and blown millions on plans that were never built. He has not been a guru at those conferences lately, although he still sits on the Board of Directors of Second Nature and on the advisory council for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, two well-known sustainability organizations.

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