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Friday, March 25, 2016

School Board Member Alleges Possible Malfeasance at ECCL

Donn Merriam Cries Foul on Turner Construction:  We Paid for EMT But 
We Got MC

Turner Construction, the firm contracted by the Emery Unified School District to build the Emeryville Center of 'Community' Life, might have bilked the taxpayers by cutting corners and not providing agreed upon electrical wiring according to School Board member Donn Meriam in a surprise statement he made to his colleagues and attendees at the regularly scheduled Wednesday night Board meeting.  Mr Merriam, an architect by trade, alerted his colleagues to a seemingly untoward situation at the construction site of of the schools/community center rebuild project on San Pablo Avenue noting sub par electrical wiring "on the entire campus" adding, "I can't understand how it got passed".  He said Turner Construction had not installed conduit for the wiring as the plans call for but instead they have installed 'MC cable', a much cheaper alternative.
School Board Member Donn Merriam
"I looked at the documents and
it says it should be installed conduit".

John Baker and his employer Swinerton Builders, Emery's representative paid as a go-between the District and Turner, told the Board the lower quality MC wiring installed at the site might have been as a result of a 'value engineering' attempt initiated by Emery to lower costs from an earlier date, a "decision made before Swinerton came to the project" he said.  It was not immediately clear if that is true and Schools Superintendent John Rubio told the Tattler he promises to look into the matter.

Mr Merriam, who ran for the School Board as an expert on such matters, told the Board he was concerned because MC cable is lower quality and "a lot easier to install" and would have saved Turner "hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor and materials".
John Baker of Swinerton Builders
Emery School District paid $1.3 million
for his construction expertise to serve
as an overseer to the General Contractor
Turner Construction's work at the ECCL.

Conduit, also called EMT, is advantageous because among other things, it enables future electricians to pull more wires through the pipe for an upgrade or remodel, something likely to be needed over the 50 year expected life span of the ECCL buildings.  With MC cable, any such upgrade will require walls to be torn into, a much more expensive undertaking.

If it is revealed that Turner did fail to provide the proper electrical wiring for the Center of 'Community' Life as Mr Merriam alleges, it is not clear what options Emery would have since the District signed a lease lease-back agreement with Turner.   This arcane construction legal agreement while having some advantage for both sides, is restrictive as far as any recourse the District might have owning to the fact that such an agreement gives Turner (temporary) ownership of the project.

The Tattler will follow and report this potentially explosive story as it develops.
MC Electrical Cable
AKA Metal Clad
A cheaper alternative.
EMT Electrical Conduit
AKA Electrical Metal Tubing
More expensive and better.

1 comment:

  1. A small thing this is but it raises the question of other bigger things the builder may have done. We need to find out if Turner did short change us here. And take appropriate measures against them. Then we need to start paying closer attention.