News


Palo Alto fires Mitchell Park Library contractor

City to look for replacement contractor after terminating its agreement with Flintco

After years of construction errors, insufficient staffing and threatened lawsuits, Palo Alto on Friday terminated its contract with Flintco Pacific Inc., the contractor responsible for construction of the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center.

In a letter to Flintco CEO Tom Maxwell that cites "historically poor performance and failure to make adequate progress toward completion," City Manager James Keene directed the company to discontinue all work on the project and prepare to hand over control of its subcontracts to the city. The move means that Palo Alto will now be looking for a new contractor to finish the project, a process that Public Works Director Mike Sartor said should take about two months. After the new contractor is in place, it should take another few months to complete construction.

The project kicked off in September 2010 and was scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2012. The latest complication means the earliest the new library will open is this summer. Sartor said that after the new contractor is hired, the company will be charged with fixing Flintco's mistakes and putting the finishing touches on the building complex on Middlefield Road. Though the library and community center have been more than 90 percent complete for some time, Sartor told the Weekly, much of the work will have to be redone. The work list includes about 2,000 items, he said, mostly minor things like crooked pavers and aluminum sashes that need to be replaced.

Sartor estimated that once the new company is hired, it would take about two months to do the work, provided it devotes "full resources" -- 50 to 60 people per day -- to the project.

"We didn't think Flintco had the capability of completing the job, particularly with the quality that we expected," he said.

The city's tension with Flintco had been building up over time but reached its climax in November, when the contractor missed its latest deadline. In March 2013, the company had indicated that the building would be completed by November 2013, a deadline that has come and gone with little progress. Flintco had stated in early November it would obtain a "temporary certificate of occupancy" for the library building by Nov. 27, which would allow staff to start moving in. That had not happened, prompting the city to issue a notice of default on Dec. 4. The notice gave Flintco 10 days to "cure its defaults" and come up with a full plan for completing the project. According to Keene, Flintco failed to do that and the plan it supplied has been insufficient.

"The latest completion plan submitted by Flintco omits critical tasks, continues to lack subcontractor coordination and contains little detail to permit the City to track and verify progress," the letter states. "In addition, Flintco has claimed a rate of progress in clearing repair and completion items that is greatly exaggerated, and continues to report items as completed that are not complete."

In late December, Palo Alto officials met with Flintco representatives and the company's surety and announced their intention to terminate the contract unless a plan is presented showing that the project will likely be completed by late January.

The plan offered by Flintco on Dec. 23 failed in that task. According to Keene, it was "deficient in numerous respects, including the failure to consider the coordination of trades, failure to take into account significant contract requirements for completion, and the expectation that a punch list would only take one day to prepare." Palo Alto and Flintco officials also clashed over which items are really "complete," with Flintco claiming that the extra work was a result of design deficiencies and the city accusing the company of mischaracterizing the status of completion. In late December, city officials told Flintco's surety, Zurich American Insurance Company, that it didn't seem likely that the company would complete the necessary work on hundreds of items without outside assistance and that if it didn't increase its staffing, its contract would be terminated.

Keene's Jan. 10 letter to Flintco states that Flintco's assertion that the project has reached completion "is yet another of many instances in which Flintco has demonstrated an unwillingness to accept responsibility for its own failings."

"Flintco has broken so many promises to get this Project finished that it has lost all credibility with the City," Keene wrote.

The Mitchell Park Library and Community Center is the largest and most expensive project in a $76 million bond to renovate the city's libraries that voters approved in 2008. Earlier this week, as he was recapping the city's 2013 accomplishments, Keene referred to the project as "an extreme disappointment" but stressed that it is "almost completed" and pledged that it will open this year.

Sartor said in a press release that despite the disruption, "we are confident that a new general contractor will be able to finish the project faster and with better quality than if Flintco had stayed on the project."

The company's sureties now have 60 days to find a new general contractor. If that doesn't happen, the city would hire its own replacement contractor and charge Flintco and the surety, according to the city's announcement of the contract termination.

Keene has requested that Flintco's sureties meet with the city on Jan. 13 to discuss "what action will be undertaken by the sureties to fulfill their obligations under the performance bond." The City Council is scheduled later that day to discuss potential litigation relating to the Mitchell Park project.

Online Editor Eric Van Susteren contributed to this report.

Comments

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Since the Mitchell Park Library is not moving back anytime soon and the "main" library collection is currently in storage, could the Palo Alto Library restore their Link+ service which allows patrons to request books from external libraries?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Is Flintco doing Main Library also?


Posted by Gus L., a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Oh My, Its the Palo Alto Way..
This building is awful...


Posted by Paco, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Another failure by the city manager and his office of inept senior managers by hiring a low bid contractor to complete a major city project. The blame should rightly fall on the city manager whose office has continually hired low bid contractors who qualifications to complete required work is questionable. This latest fiasco will cost residents millions more than the original contract with less than promised results. What qualified contractor would accept a contract to complete work by another contractor and guarantee work completed by the previous contractor was done according to city specifications. The project is a year behind schedule, when did the city manager and public works official finally figure out that the project was behind schedule? Good grief! The City Manager Keene and Public Works Director Sartor need to be held directly responsible for yet another in a long list of project failures. PW Director Sartor even admits and is quoted as saying that early in the project " We didn't think Flintco had the capability to complete the job....." This admission alone demands that an investigation into why this project was awarded to Flintco by the City Manager's and Public Works office. What a pity! Yet


Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm

The city had previously issued a request for proposal for a new contractor for the mitchell park library and community center that says, "The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to secure the services of a replacement contractor (Contractor) to complete the remaining work on the MPLCC in the event Council terminates Flintco. Work on the MPLCC is approximately 97 percent complete and much of the remaining construction materials are on-site or have already been ordered and will be on-site shortly. The City believes, however, that there is a significant amount of re-work that needs to be done in order to improve the quality and functionality of the work." The scope of services begins on page 15 at
Web Link. The proposal submittal deadline was changed yesterday to be 3:00 pm, January 16, 2014 (
Web Link)


Posted by Book reader, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm

CA law requires all public agencies to accept the lowest responsible bid on construction projects. No need to blame City staff when the contractor failed.

"The competitive bidding process usually involves public advertisement for
the submission of sealed bids, the public opening of bids, and the award of
contracts to the lowest responsible bidder that is responsive to the solicitation for bids. This process is almost exclusively governed by statute. The Public Contract Code applies in one respect or another to virtually all public entities in California. Pursuant principally to the California Public Contract Code, with limited exceptions, public agencies have a duty to publicly bid certain contracts,particularly construction contracts. Specific provisions applicable to cities are set forth in 20160-20175.2 of the Public Contract Code."
Web Link


Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Gus L +1
Paco +1

Book Reader -1


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

The low bid requirement is usually open if for some reason you have a concern over the ability of one product or contractor to perform. An explanation detailing why a low bid is not going to be accepted is the way we used to do it with defense contractors, I never heard any problem. There are many good reasons to be skeptical of low bids.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm


I do have to say from what I've seen of it, the building itself looks great, the parking lot is nice, and there is a lot of space and a lot of light. I can't wait. When the trees grow on and people get used to them, these kind of buildings can be very nice.

So ... how long do we have to wait now for it to open ... another year or more? The city has pretty much been without a library for quite a while. Can the city get it's gol-darned act together and hurry this up. Those who hate this building probably won't go there often, so there will be plenty of space for the rest of us.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm


I do have to say from what I've seen of it, the building itself looks great, the parking lot is nice, and there is a lot of space and a lot of light. I can't wait. When the trees grow on and people get used to them, these kind of buildings can be very nice.

So ... how long do we have to wait now for it to open ... another year or more? The city has pretty much been without a library for quite a while. Can the city get it's gol-darned act together and hurry this up. Those who hate this building probably won't go there often, so there will be plenty of space for the rest of us.


Posted by Leo, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 10, 2014 at 8:56 pm

For what it's worth, Flintco is NOT the contractor at Main Library. The work at Main has been progressing quickly and on schedule. Main Library is using the same contractor who did the Art Center renovation.

Let's hope the process of finding a new contractor goes quickly and smoothly, and we get a chance to open the new library as soon as possible!


Posted by Paco, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Book Reader fails to recognize or has misconstrued that the "lowest competitive " bid is not a green light or requirement for municipalities to accept the "lowest bid" Speak legalism all you want, Public Works Director Mike Sartor is on record that Flintco didn't have the capability from the start to complete the job, particularly with the quality expected by the city. Now a year behind schedule, the city manager and PW director have just come to the conclusion that the current contractor is unable to complete the work and that most of the work completed will have to be redone. Minimally, residents should demand that city senior management employees earning six figure salaries have the capability to make educated contractual decisions.Why was Flintco awarded the Mitchell Park Library contract when both the city manager and PW director knew that Flintco would not be capable to complete the job to city specifications?


Posted by Oops, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 10, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Glad my kids and I can walk to the Children's Library. Another Boo Boo by our civic leaders and CPA Management Team; isn't it interesting and revealing how effectively Stanford builds and remodels it's properties? The quality of management at City Hall is poor, except when James K. is remodeling the Conference Room on the 7th floor into his personal space... Tsk Tsk Tsk... After cutting back the fire department, two people just died in a house fire on Embarcadero Rd tonight... I'm contacting my insurance agent on Monday morning to double check my coverage, because that house fire is a little to close to our home. Hang in there all of you who are still waiting for the Mitchell Park library to be completed {{check your property coverages too}}.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2014 at 12:35 am

It's year 2014. What is a "library" and why are we spending $76M on them?


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 11, 2014 at 3:20 am

How about firing the Palo Alto staff that allowed the fiasco to continue as long as it has? They failed to manage the project; in the private sector those people would be gone, gone, gone.

I'm REALLY tired of trying to reserve books only to find out they're in storage.

WHY did the city and the council think it would be such a great idea to close a second library for construction when the first wasn't finished or even proceeding?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2014 at 8:40 am

Thank you for the picture of the library. Most of us have only seen a view of a funny blue bit. Why is the blue bit so visible from the street? Is it the back of the building and will the blue bit continue to be visible from the street when it is finished. The blue bit is why we called it Ikea and although some of the blue has been covered up, what about the rest of the blue bit? No idea why present design is putting the ugly service areas of buildings at the place where most of us can see them from the street. How about letting passers by see the front and the best view and keep the ugly service bits to the back where nobody seems them!


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

Clearly a large project and clearly it was mismanaged. With such a project EXTRA CARE and intelligence was needed to make things go smoothly, I can acknowledge that, but we have many 6-figure salaried employees in the City of Palo Alto and they should be capable of managing this IF this is the design and scope that was approved or they should have been replaced.
Is there ANY accountability in the City of Palo Alto? Who was overseeing this and who should have made things happen much more quickly?
How much is this costing us taxpayers in terms of loss of use, cost overruns, correcting/re-doing work done incorrectly and so on in addition to the stated cost of the project? Who was and who is in charge? Why should it take two months to find a new contractor? It is SO opposite from the way business is conducted in the private sector it is staggering.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2014 at 9:29 am

If you look at the photos in the article above, you see what I would term excessively fancy expenditures on "Nevada stone" awaiting to be installed, and numerous fancy internal sliding doors and a fancy subfloor heating/cooling system - WHO decided on these luxury features? It is perfectl possible to promptly complete a large municipal public library that is quite attractive without resorting to oddball and tricky features. Witness: City of Cupertino, City of Santa Clara for two cities that contructed successful new major libraries.


Posted by PA007, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

Almost every project is delayed and overrun. Just take a LOOK around town


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2014 at 9:51 am

@PA007 - I think you mean every public project is delayed and overrun. Meanwhile, foreign investors are able to buy, tear down, and rebuild oversized houses in about 6 months. I;ve seen it happen half a dozen times within a block over the last two years. Maybe we should borrow some of their expertise for the benefit of the city.


Posted by DC, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 11, 2014 at 10:00 am

Agree w/ CPAnon and Paco. There need to be consequences for such absurdly poor choices that lead to huge losses of taxpayer monies. If any of the rest of us failed so magnificently at work, we would be fired and perhaps be required to pay restitution/go to jail. Public officials need to have the same accountability/consequences as the rest of us. Why DON'T they?

Anonymous: If you don't know what a "library" is (tho you are clearly disdainful of this thing you do not know), you would not be able to grasp the answer.


Posted by CALI GUY, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 11, 2014 at 10:03 am

how about 250 ASI mr arq the delay the project a lot how about almost 2500 RFI
HOW ABOUT APPROVED SET OF DRAWING WITH MISSING STEEL AND POOR DESING ISSUES THE CITY LET GO PALO ALTO IS RESPONSIBLE DIRECTLY FOR THIS

I KNOW ALL ABOUT THIS IS A JOKE


Posted by Green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2014 at 10:42 am

The law in California is that public entities MUST take the lowest bidder. Does not make any difference if they are a bunch of liars or not. The contractor makes more money with changes no matter whose idea/fault it is for those changes. The City should have been better with oversight. The library would have open some time ago.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 11, 2014 at 11:14 am

If no one is working on the library and if replacement contractor hasn't even been chosen. why are ALL the lights on at the Mitchell Park Library all day and all night?

Maybe the Utilities Dept. could start sending them letters about their electricity usage and how they're not green enough.


Posted by marty, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2014 at 11:14 am

The city may have been required to accept the lowest RESPONSIBLE bid. That means the specifications and bid documents have to set expectations that can be measured and overseen during the work to correct or change at the time. Between the City and the Construction Manager hired they failed to set the project up properly, failed to step in early enough and now, after an unacceptable delay, are taking action. The City failed to hire a construction manager to watch the work properly, didn't avail themselves of remedies earlier, didn't use even common sense when things were going south to see that and do something about it.
Both the City and Construction Management staff and company, Turner, need to be held accountable. Putting it on Flintco is only part of the problem and while it is clear they were awful, they were allowed to be awful by the "experts" hired to oversee the project. No wonder people in PA have little faith in our towns' ability to choose appropriate priorities and competently carry out work. When the investigation of how this happened occurs and is made known, it will be interesting to see who is held accountable.
I regularly manage construction projects in the tens of millions of dollars and if something like this happened on my watch, I'd expect to be fired and I'd deserve it. Instead I fear it will be handled in the "palo alto way"


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm

There certainly seems to be much more behind this story that some of the comments give us a glimmer about.

Our City and our City Council are the dictionary definition of opaque, if not dense, not to mention incompetent. Some may complain about my negative characterization of the Palo Alto City Council, but for whatever reason over a long extended period of time it has not gotten the job done, and has not served the interests of the people of Palo Alto. Just the example of Palo Alto Utilities, service levels are down and costs are way up, more than in other cities and what we are left with is always having to pay more money to extricate ourselves and then we hire expensive contractors who also fail to perform. There may be reasons for this, but they just turn to excuses when there is no admission of a problem, no analysis, and no improvement plan. As Marty mentions, if normal people performed like this on their jobs, they would deserve to be fired, in Palo Alto we seem to have something like incompetence protection program.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

> PW Director Sartor even admits and is quoted as saying that early
> in the project " We didn't think Flintco had the capability to
> complete the job....."

Can someone provide a link to Sartor's comments?

> CA Law requires lowest bidder ..

Not necessarily. The City of Poway has adopted local ordinances that give it the right to disqualify bidders on publicly-funded jobs if the City believes that the bidder is not "responsible":

Cities can create exemptions/exceptions, in order to protect themselves, and the taxpayers. The following is some language from the City of Poway's ordinance on purchasing—

Web Link

3.28.070 Formal bidding procedure.
E. At its sole discretion, the City Council may reject any and all bids presented and readvertise for bids pursuant to the procedure prescribed above. In the event no bids are received or all bids are rejected, the City Council may, in accordance with Public Contracts Code Section 20167, and any amendments thereto, direct the Director of Administrative Services or designee to proceed pursuant to paragraphs relating to open market procedure or competitive negotiations.

Open market purchases shall, wherever possible, be based on at least three bids and shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. The lowest responsible bidder will be the individual or firm who submits a responsible bid based on total cost, and which is determined to be the most advantageous to the City. (Ord. 675 7, 2008; Ord. 260 1, 1988; Ord. 55 8, 1982)

---

If Poway can insulate itself from the problem of unqualified lowest bidders, why can't Palo Alto?



Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

>> If Poway can insulate itself from the problem of unqualified lowest bidders, why can't Palo Alto?

In my opinion a lot of these ordinances are just umbrellas under with a status quo of corruption or cronyism grows. Put the rules in place and then you know how to bypass them. You see this in criminal prosecutions like George Zimmerman, charging him with murder which it was clear the facts did not support instead of manslaughter or the equivalent. Our system has become a joke, a game that those on the inside manipulate with impunity.

That lowest bidder thing is an attempt to contain costs, but clearly it does not work and it does not bring about superior performance.

Maybe the Council and the City needs follow your link and review Poway's ordinance. The lowest bidder thing strictly enforced just does not work or make sense. Would you buy a car strictly on the lowest bidder, or do you spend a bit more for the best product?


Posted by No Brainer, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm

I HOPE they have the easy self-checkout/check-in system of Mountain View Library, where you just stack the books and it checks them out, and to return, just place them individually on the moving belt and the machine checks them in.

This is a real shame for an "intellectual" community to be without their main libraries for so long. My Paly student is graduating this year and there are no nearby libraries for him to study at due to Mitchell and the Main Library being renovated (downtown is too small). Mitchell's proposed finish in this summer. With the delays, he had no chance of ever stepping foot into the Mitchell Library for any of his high school years.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Glenn Roberts was manager of Public Works when the contracting was done in August 2010.

@Paco
You wrote, "Public Works Director Mike Sartor is on record that Flintco didn't have the capability from the start to complete the job, particularly with the quality expected by the city."

Can you provide a source for that "on record" statement?

@anonymous
"Is there ANY accountability in the City of Palo Alto?" Clearly not. In fact, in the 2014 operating budget, the city manager lists his "Key Achievements," among them: "Completed 75% of the construction on Mitchell Park Library and Community Center" Web Link page 110

@Mr.Recycle
" foreign investors are able to buy, tear down, and rebuild oversized houses in about 6 months."

I don't know if it was a foreign investor, but the huge complex at El Camino and San Antonio was completed in less time than the Mitchell Park fiasco.

@marty: Would you run for city council in November?

@CrescentParkAnon: I am not complaining about your "negative characterization of the Palo Alto City Council." I agree wholeheartedly. Would you run for city council?

BTW, there's a Library Bond Oversight Committee: Web Link


Posted by Glenn, a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Perhaps California should for once be the follower, and adopt Oregon contracting law which allows a public agency to waive low bid contracting by following the Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC) format. Under the CMGC format a public agency (such as City, County, School District, or Library District) can pre-select "responsible" contractors to submit construction proposals that provide a profit and general conditions (overhead) cost for the proposed project, and a very detailed proposal on how the company will build the project and meet time, quality, and cost requirements established by the public agency (including listing the key personnel that will be committed to the project). The critical difference in this model is that the contractor is usually brought on board during the conceptual drawing stage and fully participates in cost control and working very closely with the complete design team. The contractor will usually provide a Maximum Guaranteed Price (GMP) contract prior to completion of the construction (working) drawings. Given certain findings made by the public agency, the best overall proposal can be selected by the Agency.

It is common to hear people not familiar with construction to criticize the CMCG format as not being as cost effective for the public agency, as the General Contractor is not bidding competitively on completed plans -- however, the General IS REQUIRED to competitively bid out ALL subcontracted work, which constitutes over 90% of the cost of work. The General cannot self perform any work unless he/she bids on the work in an open competitive field.

After managing over $250 million of commercial construction work, including 3 public libraries in Oregon, I can attest that for the best results of the 3 legged stool - quality, time, and cost this is the best approach to commercial contracting. In my 32 years of construction, and construction management, I have NEVER heard of a project the size of the Mitchell Park Library which has taken so long and cost so much. Having been born and raised in Palo Alto, what has happened? A good novel could be written about this project. I'm sorry the residents will foot the bill.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 11, 2014 at 7:22 pm

@ Oops: I take great exception to your assertion that the two people who lost their lives in the fire did so because of your claim that PAFD had cut backs...in other words PAFD was not properly staffed last night. You're blaming the fire department for something that isn't true That's just such BS. Highly irresponsible. Shame on you.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm

The 103 story Empire State Building took 410 days to build.

This Library has been under renovation for 3 years.

Who wrote the construction contract for the city?

Why were there so many revisions from the architect, a flawed plan to start with?

Flintco seems to have basically walked off the job a long time ago, and yet, has probably made millions in the process.

This has got to be one of the most screwed up bungled projects the city has supervised.

How is the Main Library renovation coming along?

Maybe the library will open this summer, maybe.


Posted by Leo, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2014 at 8:40 pm

For those of you curious about how the Main Library project is progressing, you can see monthly reports here (side the left-hand sidebar for links): Web Link

Here's the latest report from Nov 2013: Web Link

By the way, Flintco and Turner are NOT AT ALL involved with the Main Library construction, the contractor is S.J. Amoroso.


Posted by Never again, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

What an embarrassing fiasco from start to finish.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2014 at 10:16 am

The real sad part here is that voters were conned by saying that voting for the library bond was for the children.

Most of the kids of the voters who thought this have now graduated. Most of the kids nowadays use Childrens library when they are small and then move on to school libraries, and the internet.

The Drop was a wonderful place and many kids loved dropping in there for an hour or so on their way home from school.

Kids use computers for homework but do not need a library to do so.

Those who voted for the library are not going to use it the way they expected to.

It was a mistake from the beginning. A very expensive mistake. I only hope that the uses the building will be put to when it eventually opens will make the whole thing worthwhile to some extent.


Posted by Granite, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Palo Alto is not an easy place for a contractor to work......many of them charge a "nuisance tax" to put up with City Hall and the inspectors.

Still, you cannot ignore the fact that libraries are obsolete, except for very young children, and we already have a Children's Library. What a sick waste of money!


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

Let's pass a law that says any civic official who oversees such a horrendous screw up does not get to collect their pension. Yes, I know state law doesn't allow this. But we can change it to put the pension in a trust and put the proper legal constructs in place to allow it.


Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2014 at 10:49 am

I can't believe it took this long to finally fire this company! And everyone is right. Our kids are now graduated, and the ones still in middle and high school,are using computers for research. A modern youth center (the drop) with computers, game rooms dance rooms, etc. is a more sensible need. Our kids need more than a library for after school free time, until parents get home. I like the deli/coffee shop idea over there, too. Mitchell Park is such an all around family friendly place - more than just a park.
Get it together PA!


Posted by Barbara, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:07 am

Well, FINALLY -- FLINTCO should have been dumped long ago. More individuals who won't take responsibility for making a simple decision - terminating the contract with this contractor! Cheapest bid SO not smart. .


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

1) Since no one is working at MP, turn off the lights there that burn night and day. Why isn't our zealous Utilities Dept. sending them nasty letters like they send us?

2) Have they fired any city employees for this fiasco?

3) Who made the decision to shut the Main Library knowing MP was having problems?

3a) At a time when we're down 2 libraries, why shut off the inter-library loans, too?

4) I want a tax rebate for deprivation of services and poor project management.

5) If you think I'll ever approve another bond issue, think again.


Posted by senor blogger, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

So Why not Add the Finishing of the Library to Turner's scope of work?

They have been on the job as Construction Manager since the very beginning and it is in their best interest to see it finished properly.


Posted by Wondering in Palo Alto, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:42 am

There are always two sides to every story. So I would like to see a list initiated by Flinto, of all issues in which City staff may be responsible for these delays.

Let's face facts:
PA City Hall has a history of blaming their own incompetence and their own lack of communication on others, while at the same time taking credit for successes not entirely belonging to them. Perhaps this is the case with Flinto?

It makes no difference now, at this late date, to go back and presume Flinto could not handle the job. The fact is that they got the job. But it is reasonable for residents to know from both sides, what went wrong, questions best answered by investigative reporting.

But in Palo Alto, we will be hard-pressed to ever get truthful, well-documented details from anyone in the press. Those days are long gone. But we can always dream that one of them will get some ethics.


Posted by wants to understand, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Dear Cali Guy,

could you re-post a corrected entry? I can't understand what you are saying and t seems that you do have something of substance to say. Thanks.

Posted by CALI GUY, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 11, 2014 at 10:03 am
how about 250 ASI mr arq the delay the project a lot how about almost 2500 RFI
HOW ABOUT APPROVED SET OF DRAWING WITH MISSING STEEL AND POOR DESING ISSUES THE CITY LET GO PALO ALTO IS RESPONSIBLE DIRECTLY FOR THIS

I KNOW ALL ABOUT THIS IS A JOKE


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2014 at 1:04 pm

> So I would like to see a list initiated by Flinto, of all issues in
> which City staff may be responsible for these delays.

As would most Palo Altans, who are interested in why this project is such a mess--and how it is likely to be a predictor of future projects here in Palo Alto.

There ought to be a law requiring that all documents involved in public projects be made available to the public--preferably on-line. No doubt this project has a fair number of interchanges between the city managers and the various departments involved with the project.

Of particular interest would be Flintco's claim that there were missing design documents--which required more money for more steel. It would be most interesting to follow the public work's and city manager's answers to this problem.

It would also be interesting to see if there is an accurate day-by-day project log for both parties. Flintco might not be willing to offer up their log at the moment--but it would be very interesting to see the city's log. Unfortunately, with law suits in the not-too-distant horizon, the likelihood of ever seeing anything that comes close to accurate project logs is about zero.

This project will likely be covered up, and ignored by our "leaders" as it is ultimately resolved behind closed doors.

And people claim Palo Alto's government is not corrupt, or incompetent! Hard to believe anyone can be that naive.


Posted by bobgnote, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 13, 2014 at 1:06 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Sherrill, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 13, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Yeah, you do have to watch out for those low bids. When I worked in government, I really had to fight sometimes not to automatically accept a low bid. You truly do have to look at experience and past performance. Some bidders aren't good enough to obtain work in the private market so approach government work as their savior.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Construction issues aside, I'm particularly irritated at the "common sense" aspects that the city has ignored:

1) Shutting a second library when the first already had problems, with no completion date in sight.

2) Shutting off inter-library loans (LINK-Plus) at a time when most of the library system is down or in storage.

3)Leaving ALL the lights on at Mitchell Park when no one's home or expected WHILE sanctimoniously preaching to the rest of us about energy conservation.

A reply from the Council, the oversight committee and/or the library would be special.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2014 at 3:43 pm

> shutting off LINK+

That's a shame. It might be interesting to find out why this happened.

But, LINK+ is available in the Mountain View Library and the Sunnyvale Library .. both of which are not more than a few miles away.

> Lights on

This is more-than likely a reasonable thing to do--since it is part of a construction site theft reduction strategy. With the lights on, thieves can be seen inside the site. Additionally, with the lights on, surveillance cameras could be installed that would help police investigate any theft that occurred during construction. Moreover, people who have gone exploring on construction sites, and have managed to become injured, typically try to blame the construction company, or the owner, for their injuries. Having the lights on helps to offset these kinds of legal problems.

And lastly--lights are very inexpensive to operate. It's hard to believe that lighting the site at night is costing more than a few hundred dollars a year.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2014 at 5:37 pm

May 24 2010 press release Mitchell Park groundbreaking

October 14, 2011: Palo Alto mulls lawsuit over Mitchell Park Library
Web Link

May 10 2013: City announces intent to start default proceedings against contractor
Web Link

May 17, 2013 Flintco fires back
Web Link

June 28, 2013 How the Mitchell Park Library construction went terribly wrong
Web Link


Posted by Deb, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2014 at 5:49 pm

If Palo Alto's city manager worked in the private sector, he would have been fired for incompetence.


Posted by Harry, a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Jan 13, 2014 at 10:41 pm

The project is disastrous, to say the least. I was hoping to use the new library a long time ago. I remember someone said it would take two years to complete and that was summer of 2010 when they shut down the library. It is a mere two story library, not 100-floor skyscraper, there is absolutely no reason the project would last more than two years. Every time I passed the library I paid attention to scheduled date for opening. Until December, it still said the library would open at the end of 2013. Now, it changed to 2014 but did not estimate the season. Does that mean we have a whole year to wait for another delay? It is disgraceful!

Frankly, Los Altos library is my favorite. I could care less about the building itself. If library does not have adequate collection, then it is just a social gathering place. I admire Santa Clara county library and I am more than willing to pay extra fee to access that system.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 13, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Harry,

Thanks for your post.

I'm curious. Can Palo Alto residents use the libraries in nearby towns like Los Altos and Mountain View? Do we need to get cards there? And please elaborate on the Santa Clara Library, offerings, fees, etc.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:04 pm

If you want to see how a modern country can build, watch this video of the Broad Group, a Chinese construction company, putting up a 30 story building in 15 days.

Web Link


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:41 pm

> Can Palo Alto residents use the libraries in nearby towns like
> Los Altos and Mountain View? Do we need to get cards there

California law requires all public libraries to offer member privileges to all California residents. Some sort of ID, such as a driver's license, is required to prove residence. People need to visit reach library to obtain a borrower's card.

Santa Clara County Library District has imposed an $80 fee for people who are not residents of the member cities of the District and want to borrow holdings.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Joe,

Thanks very much.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 13, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Ok, why isn't Palo Alto included? What am I missing?

Web Link
Who is eligible to receive a free, full access Santa Clara County Library card?

Cards are free to anyone who owns property or lives in the unincorporated area of Santa Clara County or in one of the following nine cities: Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill or Saratoga. Volunteers who live outside the district and who work 60 or more hours are eligible for free cards.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 14, 2014 at 12:19 am

@Silly - those cities don't have their own city libraries, and are part of the Santa Clara County library system. You are part of the city of pay more get less.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2014 at 12:23 am

> why isn't Palo Alto included? What am I missing?

What you're missing is that Palo Alto is not a member of the Santa Clara County Library District--which is funded by a parcel tax. A year or so ago, as tax revenues fell, the SCCLD began looking for new revenues, and came to the conclusion that residents from non-member cities were frequent visitors to their libraries. So, the SCCLD decided to impose a non-member use fee to recoup their costs.

There was a time that the State provided a certain amount of money to each library in order to help defray the costs of non-resident borrowers. However, that fee has either dried up, or been greatly reduced, over the past few years.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 14, 2014 at 12:35 am

Mr. Recycle,

Aha. Silly me.

And here I thought I was a resident of Santa Clara County, since we pay county taxes so you'll forgive my confusion.

Pay more, get less indeed.

We should be lobbying our "fine" city to get us all Temporary Library County Residency Permits for the next 5 years or until the libraries are finished, whichever comes first.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Flintco, meet the Flintco,they are a big stone-age construction company...

A thought:

How about abandoning the idea of a library and finishing out the site as a community center?

Have the city chair warmers in charge of this fiasco be required to ELECTRONICALLY SCAN all the library books in storage? Then just equip the NEW Community Center with a reading room featuring featuring terminals of different sizes to accommodate the young and old. Having to scan all those books will be a proper consequence of the waste of money in this case.




Posted by palo altan, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

In storage? Wait till you find out that those books were sold long ago at FOPAL sale and will be replaced by another computer terminal.


Posted by Elaine, a resident of Ventura
on Jan 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I didn't see cost info in the article. Is Flintco going to be fined for the delays and cost overruns? What will it cost us to hire a new contractor to finish the job?


Posted by JoAnn, a resident of Ventura
on Jan 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm

When I was in Library School in the 70's, most schools offered a course in overseeing the building of public libraries. Of course, there was more money then (Nixon tried to zero out funds for libaries but the Dems, who had spinal chords then, put it back in. But I digress.) Public libraries were upgrading from their old Carnegie buildings. So the Librarian would be the person to over see the project, with the City Manager at greater remove. Did that not happen here? Maybe in these times of lowered expectations no one bothers to teach this in library schools any more.


Posted by Conspiracy?, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2014 at 5:35 am

Conspiracy?
S.Palo Alto: Miki's- Failure, Mitchell Park Library construction- failure
N. Palo Alto: Fresh Market- success, Main Library construction- success so far


Posted by Angry, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:31 am

I think we're all forgetting to give Flintco its share of blame. I do agree Palo Alto is more to blame for giving Flintco way too many chances, but Flintco's work was terrible, lets face it. They mismanaged the project and were careless with deadlines (and simply blamed others for their ineptness). They underwent a management change and didn't inform Palo Alto about it. It's highly likely they intentionally missed their last deadline just to get out of this dispute. So good riddance, Flintco. My only regret is that Palo Alto didn't get rid of Flintco a lot earlier, and for that I can't forgive the city.


Posted by way to go PA project oversight!, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Will Flintco be blackballed from further City works projects... or will the city give them a big hug, a big bonus for not screwing up the project any more than they already did?


Posted by Paco, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 30, 2014 at 2:05 pm

@Pat and @Joe

You asked for the "on record" source for PW Director Mike Sartor's comment "We didn't think Flintco had the capability of completing the job, particularly with the quality expected".

Did you not read the article submitted by the Palo Alto Weekly that you are posting your comments? If you choose to actually read the article, you might be able to find Sartor's official on the record comment six paragraphs below the headline.

The City Manager and PW Director should be held personally responsible for the Mitchell Park Library mess.


Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Has anyone else noticed that since this contractor got fired, there has not been one single worker at the library's job site? The gates stay locked, no vehicles go in or out, nothing. I suppose the library is going to finish the construction by itself? How is this an improvement?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Since I help to take care of the LL ballpark, next door to this library project, I have watched as this thing went from bad to worse. An effective surge to get it right never occurred. Blame on all sides, I suppose...but the point is that it was a failed project.

Watch out, if the CPA decides to approve that anaerobic digestion fiasco in our park lands. It could well end up making this library mess look like a success.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

The dress code
By Jessica T | 19 comments | 1,805 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,188 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,174 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,136 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 389 views