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Los Angeles college district moves to fire a third contractor

November 9, 2011 |  2:40 pm

The Los Angeles Community College District is moving to fire a third major contractor from its $5.7-billion construction program as part of a crackdown sparked by a Times series on waste and abuse in the nine-campus rebuilding effort.

The district, in a written statement, accused Turner Construction Co., which manages the building program at West Los Angeles College, of irregularities, including allowing campus contractors to work without submitting bids or signing written contracts.

The Times, in its six-part report in February and March, found that the district spent as much as $39 million on design and construction preparation work for buildings at West Los Angeles that were later abandoned because the college did not have the money to finish them.

"We are making it clear that no waste or mismanagement in our building program will be tolerated," Chancellor Daniel LaVista said in a news release announcing the Turner action.

The company will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations at a hearing in December. Kevin Dow, vice president and general manager of New York CIty-based Turner's Southern California office, declined to say whether the company would fight the charges.

In a written statement, Dow said Turner had "operated in the best interests of the college" and was confident it would be able to resolve contractual issues with the district.

The district is also seeking to bar FTR International from campus work for up to five years, and to fire Mission College's construction management firm, Gateway Science and Engineering. FTR was accused of shoddy workmanship and fraud in the construction of a Valley College classroom complex, and Gateway was accused of mismanagement in its supervision of an FTR project at Mission College.

Gateway owner Art Gastelum said he would fight every allegation and accused the district of violating its own procedures by trying to terminate his $10-million contract.

FTR posted a response on its corporate website denying "each and every allegation" and accusing the district of attempting to circumvent a lawsuit the company has pending against the district.

Spokesman Coby King said the district has paid Gateway $26 million and FTR $148 million. Both have multiple contracts with the district.


Millions in College District claims 'unallowable,' audit says

How a $5.7 billion program to rebuild L.A. community colleges went astray

-- Gale Holland and Michael Finnegan