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Friday, May 2, 2014

Emery School District Pays $1.1 Million Dollars for $481,000 of Services

Strange Math at Emery Unified 
School District:
1,100,000 Equals 481,000

Look out taxpayers.  The Emery Unified School District is not past being sneaky as they play fast and loose with the purse strings in their quest to service consultants and other vendors associated with the Center of 'Community' Life.
What else could you call it when they elect to task an outside contractor with completing a job, at more than twice the price that would have been paid to two former employees that by all rights should be doing the work?   One thing you could call it is a boon.  A boon to the contractor Swinerton Builders, selected by the School Board, who's going to get $1.1 million for a $481,000 job.

The story surfaced last week when the School District asked the City Council to sign on with them,  the hiring of Swinerton Builders to oversee the work of Turner Construction, the builders of the Emeryville Center of 'Community' Life (ECCL) on San Pablo Avenue.  After the District last January lost its architect and ECCL Project Manager, Roy Miller, the School Board realized they needed to hire someone with construction knowledge to watch Turner Construction to represent the public's interests.  That someone turned out to be Swinerton Builders, a San Francisco based construction firm.  The problem is Swinerton is going to be paid $1.1 million for a two year contract and Roy Miller, combined with his assistant would have cost the School District $481,652 to do the very same work.  Suddenly, the District is paying an extra $618,348 that's gone unexplained.

We were perplexed last fall when the District told everyone the sudden "retiring" of Roy Miller was not going to be a problem.  How could the District justify the loss of the main guy paid to shepherd the ECCL and look out after the public's interests, just as the construction of the thing was ready to begin we wondered.  School Board member John Affeldt went one further, calling the time of Mr Miller's leaving "opportune", raising the absurd notion that the best time for a project manager to quit is just as the project gets started.
Nevertheless, the School District told us a replacement would be hired, someone to oversee the construction.  They just failed to mention it would cost us more than twice the price.

To those wondering whether Swinerton perhaps will do a more complete job overseeing Turner than Mr Miller would have done and the extra costs are therefore justified, City Manager Sabrina Landreth made the District's position clear that for proper oversight, they only require the effort as would be performed by Roy Miller and the former ECCL Project Assistant Wendy Chew.  Ms Landreth put any such notions to rest, "The contract is $1.1 million and is funded from a combination of salary savings from both the District architect and the project assistant that was already budgeted in the project budget" she told the City Council, speaking on behalf of the District.

Here's the breakdown:
Roy Miller salary: $137,000
Total cost to District: $185,266

Wendy Chew salary: $37,000
Total cost to District: $55,560

Roy total cost x two years = $370,532
Wendy total cost x two years = $111,120
Together = $481,652  vs $1,100,000 Swinerton contract
Difference = $618,348

Clearly, there IS a problem when the Project Manager leaves his post just as the project is ready to get started.  And now we know how much of a problem it is: $618, 348 (and counting).

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