California Watch, which is a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, details how a contractor for the Los Angeles Community College District needed to be babysat to meet construction standards and was, according to the president of L.A. City College, doing an "absolutely awful job."
The company, Sinanian Development Inc., lost a contract in 2008 after district officials criticized the company's work. But miraculously, they went on to win contracts later on. Guess what happened in-between those events? This deeply reported piece lays it out in nice detail.
The same month, the company began contributing $75,000 to the district's construction bond measure, the first contributions made by the company to any district campaign.
Within weeks of the contributions, Sinanian submitted the lowest bid and won back the canceled project to construct a classroom building at Los Angeles Mission College for $36 million. And one year later, the company won a seventh contract valued at $23 million, even though the district used a construction process that allows more flexibility to disqualify troublesome contractors.
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Larry Eisenberg, head of facilities planning, told California Watch that no one involved in the project had any idea the company had contributed to the bond measure campaign.
Fair enough. Regardless, it seems like the district hired a bad contractor. At the Martin Luther King Jr. Library at L.A. City College in 2008, an inspector said "Sinanian was rushing to finish without fixing thousands of needed corrections identified by the project inspector, including fire and life-safety issues."
Sinanian was also covering up walls and ceilings so inspectors couldn't see problems, the inspector reported. That always works.
Eisenberg told California Watch: "They learn how to do the low-bid process well and then when it comes time to do the construction, their actual performance varies."