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L.A. Unified suspends top facilities contractors pending internal investigation

November 16, 2010 |  4:38 pm

Four key consultants in the nation’s largest school-construction program have been suspended by the Los Angeles Unified School District pending an internal investigation, The Times has learned.

The contractors -- Edwin Van Ginkel, Rod Hamilton, Charlie Anderson and John Creer -- have held prominent roles in acquiring real estate, managing environmental reviews, planning projects and managing construction over the last decade for compensation that surpassed regular district employees, including the wages paid to Supt. Ramon C. Cortines.

Cortines declined to comment pending his personal review of an ongoing district investigation, but officials said the work agreement with the contractors has been cancelled; Cortines said he would report to the Board of Education within 10 days regarding the internal review.

Critics of the construction program have praised the increased scrutiny, but its defenders say the district is dangerously ejecting the expertise that has made a $20-billion effort successful.

The four executives recently formed their own consulting company, Consilia, which was to plan how the district would, in the near future, spend the $7 billion of  bond funds authorized in Measure Q, passed by voters in 2008. Their role involved construction planning at 580 campuses, for which they would receive $3.74 million, at a rate of $185,000 per month. The contract also includes a $40,000 setup fee for furniture and related office costs.

The district's Inspector General is conducting the investigation into the company, looking into, among other things, whether the company was hired by L.A. Unified without competitive bidding, according to district officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

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-- Howard Blume

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