Thursday, April 26, 2012

California Community College Bidding Probe

The project architect has entered a misdemeanor guilty plea, and is cooperating with the San Diego County district attorney’s investigation of construction corruption in connection with construction managers’ bids on Southwestern Community College District’s Corner Lot conference center, restaurant bookstore, and gallery multiuse construction project in Chula Vista. The $54.9 million, 141,500 square foot project, was put out to bids for at risk construction management. The project was awarded to Echo Pacific Construction, at a bid price of $4.06 million for construction management services, though competing bidder Barnhart Balfour-Beatty had a lower bid of $3.69 million. Examination of the bid documents disclosed that Echo Pacific’s bid was based on a construction budget of $59 million, while the Barnhart bid was based on a budget of only $55 million.

The investigation centers on how the differing construction budgets were provided to competing bidders on the same project. Project architect Paul Bunton pleaded guilty to violating California’s Fair Political Practices Commission rules in not reporting $2,800 in gifts to Southwestern Community College Vice President Nicholas Alioto, who handled most of the analysis of the competing construction manager at risk bids.

The corruption investigation is ongoing, and has delayed completion of this project for at least a year.

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