Monday, March 05, 2007

Project Price High? Simply Lie!!

That's the solution the Norquist Public Works gang took. Almost got away with it, except they managed to piss off the wrong guys: reporters.

City officials kept aldermen in the dark and misled reporters while the cost of rebuilding and extending W. Canal St. grew to more than 2 1/2 times the project's original budget, a new audit says.

...From 2004 to 2006, the project rebuilt Canal St., from 6th St. to 25th St., and extended it west to Miller Park Way. The work included moving railroad tracks out of the middle of the street, finishing four miles of the Henry Aaron State Park bicycle trail and creating "reversible lanes" to help guide traffic in and out of stadium parking lots before and after baseball games at Miller Park.

And yet, when then-Gov. Scott McCallum included the project in his 2001-'03 state budget, he set the cost at $25 million, with the city paying $15 million and the state paying $10 million. After then-Mayor John O. Norquist balked at the city share, the project was cut to $20 million, with the city and state each paying half.

(Of course, McCallum got his numbers from the Norquist administration's DPW.)

The city Department of Public Works "knew the project would cost significantly more, but did not disclose its true cost," auditors wrote.

In 2004, when city officials were telling the newspaper that the cost was growing to $28 million, the public works staff "had actually estimated that it would cost $39.6 million," auditors wrote. Later changes and city staff costs added about $13 million.

In their official response to the audit, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Mantes and City Engineer Jeff Polenske conceded that was how the Public Works Department operated before 2005,

Well, Henry Maier got away with it for the sewers. Of course, since Maier was screwing the suburbs, not the City, it was perfectly fine.

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