Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Shocker! Citizens of Los Angeles Saved from Another Corrupt Political Scheme!

First the DWP's attempted pay-off of the rate payers money to Brian D'Arcy - Measure 'B', despite the fix being in at City Hall, died a unnatural death at the polls.

Now the incompetence and lies of AnsaldoBreda, after were awarded a contract to build light rail cars for the MTA even after showing - repeatedly - they could not build reliable cars, could not build cars on time and could not build cars on budget - has managed to screw up a contract they had all but dictated to the MTA.

Yes, even after the professionals at the MTA said they did not want AnsaldoBreda to build the cars - the politicians still, in their never ending efforts to reward the usual special interest groups - voted to give the company a sweet heart contract. But even then, even with the usual City Hall fix put in place - AnsaldoBreda was still so staggeringly incompetent, they couldn't even meet the financial conditions of a contract written to their own specifications.

But - alas - it's not yet time to celebrate.

Just when you think yet another stake has finally been driven though the heart of another vampire - the president of the company has already suggested they may bid again now that the contract is open for bids again. And the politicians and the special interest groups will undoubtedly - once again - try and find a way to defraud the public.

MTA's rail-car contract falls apart at last minute, scuttling hundreds of jobs [Updated]
October 31, 2009 | 9:14 pm
A tentative and controversial deal to build 100 rail cars for Los Angeles County's transit system has fallen through -- taking with it plans to build a $70-million factory that would have created hundreds of local jobs.

Last-minute negotiations failed to result in a contract with AnsaldoBreda, an Italian manufacturer that is three years behind schedule on an existing contract to deliver 50 rail cars to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Despite those delays -- and the delivery of cars that were 6,000 pounds heavier than specified -- AnsaldoBreda was positioned to win the new $300-million contract through an option with a deadline of Friday at midnight.

Just weeks ago, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had hailed the impending deal because the company said it would build the rail cars at a new Los Angeles factory. Villaraigosa had cited a study estimating that the plant would deliver $368 million in economic activity, including 650 factory jobs and close to 1,000 union construction jobs to build the facility. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor had lobbied the MTA board in favor of the contract.

Today, the mayor expressed disappointment. "In these tough economic times, it was important to make every effort to bring good jobs to L.A. and simultaneously exercise due diligence to protect public funds in pursuing this contract,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “Unfortunately after months of negotiations, at the last minute, satisfactory financial guarantees were not provided and the deal was not signed.”

Hours before the deadline, the company raised new issues -- including a cap on daily penalties for delivering rail cars behind schedule, said MTA spokesman Marc Littman. Transit-agency negotiators declined to make additional concessions and the time period to reach an agreement expired.

The deal’s disintegration has ramifications beyond the future work, said MTA board member Richard Katz, a Villaraigosa appointee. He cited an agreement under which AnsaldoBreda was going to provide two free rail cars, which sell for $3 million each, to make up for building the vehicles heavier than specified. The heavier cars forced the MTA to reinforce some bridges.

In tones that reflected the soured relations between the company and local officials, Katz called AnsaldoBreda “unprofessional and so unbusinesslike,” and said the company's inability to perform under its existing contract could result in litigation.

Officials from AnsaldoBreda could not be reached, but the company has defended its work and says it can point to the successful delivery of rail cars in other cities.

[Updated at 10:26 p.m.: In a statement, AnsaldoBreda president and CEO Giancarlo FantappiƩ said that his company had provided sufficient financial safeguards for MTA and that he regretted a deal could not be reached "despite multiple efforts to negotiate in good faith on both sides." He added: "Despite this turn of events, Los Angeles continues to represent a focal point for our strategy in America." AnsaldoBreda is eligible to take part in new bidding to build the rail cars.]

The MTA intends to rebid the work quickly and hopes to sign a contract that will result in local jobs, Katz said.

The effort to exercise the option with AnsaldoBreda has long had critics, including county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who in a statement called the latest development “a victory for taxpayers.”

The company “failed once again to deliver on a promise made to the people of Los Angeles County," said Antonovich, who also sits on the MTA board. “Los Angeles city insiders and special interests attempted to ram through a substandard outfit, creating costly delays in the MTA's ability to seek a legitimate firm to build rail cars.”

-- Howard Blume

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