Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Default? So?

Apparently Basic IDIQ did not default on their contract to finish (before the Second Coming) San Jacinto Park as I posted last week. So?

I read the El Paso Times story. Your best read is Refuse the Juice on this story.

I have no doubt that the word among those on the 2nd floor of City Hall late last week was that a default was coming. Whatever was worked out among lawyers simply staved off what may very well become the reality - a default. Certainly someone will get hurt. A sub-contractor or two or three. And, of course, citizens and taxpayers of El Paso have been hurt big time already. 

The City is being very careful as evidenced by their words and actions after Tuesday's executive session. It tells me that a default is still possible and Council is trying to avoid that.

Good luck. Just today I observed "work" at the park from a window at the El Paso Community Foundation. It wasn't lunch time but there was much sitting and aimless wandering. On my way to the Community Foundation I passed two men. One said: "What a mess by the f-ing city." (That could have been the title for this post. What a mess.)

Who is to blame? City Council. City Council. City Council. They are too scared to dismiss staff's low bid recommendations and either go with a more responsible bidder or rebid.  In the case of the park, they could have delayed award and made all subs complete a prequalification statement outlining project experience and financial capability.  And they could have postponed award and made sure that the architect provided cost estimates in true dollars that showed that the project could be completed for that amount. If the plans and specs left too many unanswered questions for bidders then the other two bidders may have added more to their bid to cover the unknowns or they actually priced correctly and Basic threw a low number at it believing they could convince the city to approve a lesser product or finish.

City Engineering is also to be blamed. Their oversight of the project has been poor to say the least. They should have raised red flags a long time ago. "Engineering and Construction Management" - "Construction Management" is an oxymoron.

Finally, whether or not this project belongs to all El Pasoans and thus to all Council districts, the fact remains that the park is in only one Council member's district: Cortney Niland's. She was on top of this just as she was with the trash collection site next to Keystone Heritage Park. She should have been the watch dog in chief. Here is one place her pechant for control could have come in handy and I'm not just talking about demanding that El Pasoan's beloved Christmas Tree should come down just because it isn't triangular enough for her.

Why should elpasonaturally pay attention to this subject? This is a blog about conservation, the environment and sustainability. But a park is a commons. It is in a sense a dedicated open space where we want to connect with nature even in the midst of the urban built environment. It has trees and this blog has already taken on the city for its lack of care for the Plaza Park trees and trees everywhere. (BTW, somebody please tell me how the trees in the park are currently being watered.) Engineering does whatever it pleases and it does not care what other experts think. elpasonaturally has taken them on and will continue to do so. 

So, no default? But lots of fault and the saga is sadly not over.


  1. Too bad this did not happen before the election...or maybe it did and they just deep-sixed it until she was re-elected. As you walk past the park going north on Oregon you can see in the distance a gigantic billboard with CORTNEY and her photo....presiding over many disasters.

  2. Engineering department is number one to blame in this whole debacle. They made the recommendation, they were managing, they were gloating of the success of the project construction on their blog, they dropped the ball. Whether or not they accepted the bid at that price they still could have saved the project, not necessarily the contractor but the project. The entire engineering department needs an overhaul. There hasn't been any new blood in that department in ages. Times change and so should that department.