Whistleblower alleges LA community college system misled taxpayers on development project costs

Project manager says he was fired for exposing problems, overspending

TRD LOS ANGELES /
May.May 09, 2019 03:00 PM
Francisco C. Rodriguez, Ph.D. and David Salazar with Renderings of the new Student Services Center, a Measure CC-approved project
Francisco C. Rodriguez, Ph.D. and David Salazar with Renderings of the new Student Services Center, a Measure CC-approved project

An executive in charge of a massive construction program for the Los Angeles Community College District has filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging he was fired for outing cost overruns in the publicly-funded system.

David Salazar, chief facilities executive for the voter-approved $3.3-billion bond program, claims voters were misled in approving Measure CC in 2016 for campus upgrades, the Los Angeles Times reported. Salazar sounded the alarm earlier this year about cost overruns and unnecessary spending, which he now claims led to his termination in March.

Salazar said a study he approved found that many facilities on the citywide campuses were unused, costing $4.4 million a year. The study concluded the district did not need to build more facilities at the rate it projected to justify voter approval of Measure CC, “meaning the taxpayers were misled.”

Whistleblower actions are not uncommon among city employees, although this has attracted attention because it directly related to a public bond issue.

Salazar is on paid administrative lease and asking for a full reinstatement or $1.6 million for five years of pay and benefits. His complaint alleges Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, general counsel Jeffrey Prieto and trustees Steven Veres, Gabriel Buelna and Andra Hoffman retaliated against him.

Rodriguez did not return requests for comment. Veres, in an email response to The Real Deal, said the district’s bond monitor, Exiger, is investigating the claims.

“As an individual trustee, I personally disagree with the accusations Mr. Salazar makes, but as I said Exiger and their investigation team will process and evaluate the claim,” Veres wrote in the email.

Salazar has asked for an independent investigator, according to the Times. [LAT]Gregory Cornfield


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Governor Gavin Newsom and Senator Nancy Skinner (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Developers rejoice: Newest state law aims to boost housing production

Assemblyman David Chiu and Gov. Gavin Newsom (Credit: Wikipedia and iStock)

California passes landmark rent control law

Ron Galperin and an overview of LA (Credit: iStock)

LA owns thousands of properties, many of them vacant. LA’s controller has an idea to spur development

Bob Halavi and 827 South Grand View Street (Credit: LinkedIn and Google Maps)

This 60-unit resi project would add to MacArthur Park’s growing pipeline

Top to bottom: a rendering of the project and a photo of the site at 3170 West Olympic Boulevard (Credit: Google Maps)

Koreatown hotelier sells shovel-ready development site entitled for 252 units

Domvs London co-founder Barry Watts and 800 Tortuoso Way (Credit: Linkedin, Dougas Elliman)

Developer lists a third of Park Bel Air for reduced price of $45M

6033 N. De Soto Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Development plans at Warner Center now include a 190-unit senior facility

Recent renderings of multi-family projects

LA County’s housing stock jumps, as does monthly rent: report

arrow_forward_ios