Fair Political Practices Commission complaint filed on former City of Elk Grove architect, Willdan employee

Elk Grove's District56 has been in litigation following its one year delayed opening and costs overruns. | 

A complaint was filed yesterday with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against a former Willdan employee who was also the City of Elk Grove's architect. 

The complaint was filed on Alvin Wong, who, until recently, was an employee of Willdan, who is the city's primary public works contractor. While he was an employee of Willdan and contractor for the city, Wong was the city's architect, and in his dual roles, he was in a conflict of interest as it related to the District56 aquatics center the filing contends.

The complaint, which was filed by Calaveras County resident David Anderson, alleges that as a city employee, Wong should have filed a California Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests. The statement is required of government employees and elected officials "who makes or influences governmental decisions" and "serves as a reminder to the public official of potential conflicts of interest so the official can abstain from making or participating in governmental decisions that are deemed conflicts of interest."

Specifically, the complaint reads "will allege and show that Alvin Wong has a financial interest in the Elk Grove Aquatic Center contract and he has acted egregiously and willfully to protect his interest to the detriment of the City of Elk Grove and others."

Anderson's argument says based on California Government Code 1090, which prohibits an elected official employee from entering into or participating in making contracts in which they have a financial interest. Even though he was an employee of Willdan, who contracts with Elk Grove, Wong also held the title of city architect.

Elk Grove City manager Jason Behrmann confirmed that Wong is no longer employed by Willdan and not associated with the city. Anaheim, Calif.-based Willdan has not responded to an email request seeking verification that Wong is separated from the company. 

According to his complaint, Anderson says Wong negotiated a design contract with SWA on behalf of Willdan for the District56 aquatic facility. Anderson also claims Wong was negotiating with the city on behalf of Willdan even though he as acting as the city's architect.

The FPPC confirmed they have received Anderson's complaint. According to their website, once a complaint is received, the named parties named are notified within five days.

Aside from being Elk Grove's largest outside contractor, Willdan has been embroiled in the lawsuit initiated by the city on the District56 swimming pool and affiliated facilities that were completed one year late and over budget. One of the subcontractors who is a defendant in the lawsuit, Big B Construction, who was subcontracted for concrete work at the facility, has been vocal in their claims of their workmanship and that Willdan is responsible for concrete problems because of flawed designs.

The complaint also notes that four Elk Grove City Council members have received $71,000 in campaign contributions from Willdan and suggest that it violates code 1090. The complaint says, "The massive overrun in the Wildan master agreement can be inferred to be the result of contributions and consequently favored treatment. This assertion is made in the context that the city council had knowledge of Alvin Wong’s conflict of interest and ignored his section 1090 violations due to the influence of the campaign contributions." 

At the most recent meeting, Big B co-owner Brian Erickson promised to continually appear before the city council and reveal information about Willdan and the District56 project. In an interview with Elk Grove News Podcasts and his public comments, Ericson has produced email documents from city employee Jeff Werner stated Willdan's design was responsible for the cost overruns and delays. 

Erickson's commentaries have forced the city to take the unusual step to issue a statement on the pending litigation which is an out-of-the-ordinary response. The Elk Grove City Council's next meeting is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8. 

UPDATED 1030 a.m. - The FPPC has confirmed receipt of Anderson's complaint. 

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

I'm confident the City's Crack Legal Team will have a valid response to this accusation.

I seriously doubt Mr. Wong as a Willdan employee, regardless of the job title he held, had authority to finalize consultant contracts, spend monies, or give final approval to anything. I'm confident the consulting City Architect reported to a City-employed manager who did complete the required FPPC forms.

It's amazing what comes flying off the shelves when lawsuits are filed!

Unknown said...

Actually the city was asked to furnish form 700 for Alvin Wong and couldn’t because he did not file one.

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