Crucial information on District56 construction litigation being withheld by Elk Grove's city attorney office critic says

A critic of the City of Elk Grove's handling of the construction defect litigation at the new aquatics center and District56 facilities asserts information is being intentionally withheld.

The claim surfaced at the Wednesday, February 12 Elk Grove City Council meeting during public comment. That assertion was made by David Anderson, who has frequently criticized the city on behalf of one of the defendants in the case, Big B Construction.

In the lawsuit filed last summer, the city claims Big B and Arntz Construction among others are responsible for cost overruns and a delayed opening by improperly laid concrete. Big B co-owner Brian Erickson has repeatedly said at city council meetings that documents they obtained show the concrete problems were caused by flawed designs by the primary contractor for the facility, Willdan Group, who is also a city public works contractor and large campaign contributor to members of the Elk Grove city council.

In his comments, Anderson read a series of email exchanges (see documents and video posted below) from city engineer Jeff Werner to assistant city attorney Jennifer Alves and public works director Bob Murdoch. The emails mention an independent study commissioned by the city to investigate the cause of the defects.

Anderson also referenced an email from Marsha Perry Taras, vice president of Roebbelen, another contractor involved in the construction management of the project. That email, Anderson claimed, validates Big B's assertion.

"She writes 'there are some QAQC [quality assurance quality control] issues that we can talk about, but the city had two concrete experts out, not Roebbelen, who both stated the design is the primary reason for the pervasive cracking and spawling, '" Anderson said in his comments.

Reached after the meeting, Anderson noted the email from Werner was seeking permission from Alves to release the concrete analysis report commissioned by the city. In response, Anderson says Werner was instructed by Alves to withhold information from the report, which Anderson claims have not been released despite several requests, that would have absolved Big B.

"Jennifer Alves instructed Jeff Werner to withhold any conclusions from the reports in his disclosure so that Big B and Arntz Builders were unaware that the experts exonerated the contractors of poor workmanship," Anderson said. 

Interestingly, Anderson said the city's outside counsel, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard has said the documents read by Anderson during the meeting, which were obtained from a public document request by Big B, were mistakenly released and has demanded Big B's attorney return them (see documents below). 

Anderson also noted that Big B, which claims to have suffered devastating effects including laying off several employees because the city has not released payment on the work they performed, was promised by the city that they would receive additional pay for contract change orders based on revised designs.

"Jeff Werner, Bob Murdoch, and Jennifer Alves each withheld information they knew to be true and instead induced Big B to rely on a false expectation that he would be paid for the removal and replacement of the failed concrete," Anderson said. 

Responding to Anderson's claim, city attorney Jonathan Hobbs reiterated the city's position on the construction cost overruns and delayed opening.

"We've been consistent about this. The city believes it was a design and construction workmanship issue that caused the problems and that is about as far as I can go with that," Hobbs said. "If there are any expert analysis or opinion or anything they want to share with us, I would be more than happy to look at it."

Hobbs also noted a separate complaint filed by Anderson with the Fair Political Practices Commission against Alves, Murdoch and Werner was rejected for insufficient evidence. 

Regarding the city's stance, Anderson said, "I don’t think explanations from the city are appropriate as the emails speak for themselves."   

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Unknown said...

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