May 4th, 2017
While we stare at the yet undemolished 31/2-acre city block bounded by G, H, Ninth and 10th streets, we wonder – will construction start on our badly needed 27 courtroom, 309-thousand square foot courthouse as promised in 2018 for opening in 2021? We wonder if funding will be delayed or reduced as has happened to 17 other Counties in the State of California. We fear for what we will end up with – and for good reason.
The State Judicial Council overseas the acquisition, design and construction of all courthouses, and their track record of on time, properly funded and adequately designed projects is abysmal. A particularly disastrous $555 million dollar courthouse boondoggle in San Diego (https://judicialcouncilwatcher.com/2017/04/19/another-clifford-ham-boondoggle-in-san-diego/ ) gives us little confidence that we will end up with better results.
Local transparency, local proficiency, local oversight and local political accountability all need to work in concert in order that we don’t end up with a $263 million-dollar fiasco. Part of the problem stems from a broken Judicial Council system that set construction priorities badly—as noted by an outside audit back in 2012—and manages construction projects poorly. A quote from the report:
“There is no formal policy, procedure or process that addresses the review and approval of project designs, resulting in the Project Manager making such determinations and taking action based on their individual judgment which further impacts the uniformity, transparency and parts of accountability”
You can read the entire audit here http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/Pegasus-Global-AOC-OCCM-Final-Audit-Report.pdf .
Bottom line – from this projects inception, we have seen little competence at the state or local levels to ensure the mistakes and complete failures of other courthouse construction across California to not occur here.