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Carmel’s quick fix for its spending problem

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Carmel’s Sunset Center

In recent weeks the Carmel City Council has complained about the costs of various city maintenance projects, including a $5,000 contract to oversee painting at the city library and a $50,000 contract with Monterey Peninsula Engineering for a new railing at Sunset Center. Last month the council called a timeout on the contract with the engineering outfit.

Deservedly or not, the city’s public works director, Rob Mullane, is out of a job effective Friday. The council’s inquiry into the contracts likely will end with that personnel move, which was announced to Mullane’s staff on Wednesday.

Monterey Peninsula Engineering won the Sunset Center contract through a competitive bidding process involving one other company, DMC. Incidentally, MPE and principal Paul Bruno have been significant contributors to Republican politicians, including at the City Council level, but the city apparently doesn’t consider that to be a disqualifier.

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  • Terri DeBono March 16, 2017, 2:31 pm

    Royal:
    I would really appreciate an article on Granite Construction in Watsonville. This local company has been listed as being one of the top bidders for the Mexico Border Wall. (Chicago Tribune) I have called the Watsonville Corporate office and asked to speak with someone regarding this choice. I have not connected with them yet. I also am interested in the pollution caused by creating the hundreds of pounds of cement or concrete to accomplish this venture.
    Sincerely,
    Terri DeBono

    • Bob Coble March 16, 2017, 3:09 pm

      To their credit, the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers led a good sized demonstration against Granite Construction about the company’s announced intention to “vigorously pursue” winning the contract to build Trump’s Wall.

      • Howard Scherr March 16, 2017, 8:54 pm

        Any additional exposure of Granite’s intention to bid on the Wall is definitely a plus. Up to now, the group Brown Berets in Watsonville has been leading the local protest efforts aimed at letting the company’s management know how deeply the community feels that a local company, based in an overwhelmingly Hispanic town, building a simultaneously racist and ineffective boondoggle like Trump’s Wall, is a terrible idea. With Trump’s new budget cutting the entire $3M budget for Meals on Wheels (!), surely we could find a better use for the $20B he wants to spend on his monument in the desert.

        • Joanna Greenshields March 17, 2017, 9:10 am

          I agree on every level, Howard. Every single day, I have another reason to be ashamed of what is happening in this country.

  • Royal Calkins March 16, 2017, 4:59 pm

    I’ll work on a piece about Granite

  • Jeff Condit March 16, 2017, 5:14 pm

    I am sorry to hear that the City of Carmel has let Mr. Mullane go. My experience working with him was always positive and professional. He seamlessly made the transition from Planning to Public Works during a rough patch. I have the utmost confidence he will land on his feet. Best of luck Rob.

  • Louis MacFarland March 16, 2017, 6:53 pm

    Would like to hear more about this new railing at the Sunset Center, $ 50,000 is a lot of money…..

    • Carolyn March 18, 2017, 8:11 pm

      Louis, the matter was referred back to staff to re-think, re-bid the project. The City Council is waiting for it to come back for approval. Now that the PW Director has resigned, it may be a little while before we can get it back on track at a reasonable cost …

  • Joyce Newell March 16, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Terri,
    Brava for calling Granite re the WALL and the concerns about pollution to the environment (big concern for me under the Trump reign). While I have always enjoyed reading and agreeing with Royal’s opinions (Herald and now Partisan) and know his piece on Granite would be enlightening, wouldn’t it be preaching to the choir? Why not mount an email campaign to Granite using Royal’s undoubtedly knowledgeable article, soon to be published I’m sure, so that Granite gets the message from us in their back yard. I have no idea how many people the Partisan reaches, but I believe

    • Terri DeBono March 18, 2017, 2:19 pm

      Granite Construction did call me back and danced like crazy when he found out I was a documentary filmmaker. Boy, can he dance. I checked the epa.org website for polluting effects. Here is what I found out.
      Health and Environmental Effects of Cement Plant Emissions
      Cement plants are a significant source of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, which are associated with the following health and environmental impacts:
      Nitrogen oxide (NOx) can cause or contribute to a variety of health problems and adverse environmental impacts, such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Affected populations include children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and exposure to these conditions can cause damage to lung tissue for people who work or exercise outside.
      Sulfur dioxide (SO2) in high concentrations can affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children, and the elderly. SO2 is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.
      Carbon monoxide (CO) can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body’s organs and tissues, as well as adverse effects on the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. CO also contributes to the formation of smog (ground-level ozone), which can cause respiratory problems.

  • Jean March 17, 2017, 6:41 am

    Granite Construction builds things throughout the state and beyond. If a wall is built, who builds it would likely have no effect on air pollution or much else. If you want to have a real impact, work to avoid construction.
    Congressman John Garamendi (D) is married to the granddaughter of the founder of GCC. He would be the one I would try to reach to affect GCC’s work on the project.

  • Jean March 18, 2017, 4:04 pm

    Cement plant emissions of mercury and particulates are substantial issues, too.
    USEPA Region IX in San Francisco, and Communities for a Better Environment would be good sources of information.

  • Carolyn March 18, 2017, 6:13 pm

    For your information, Monterey Peninsula Engineering was NOT awarded the project to replace the Sunset Center guardrail. If you would take some time to complete your investigative reporting– possibly by reviewing the Council’s archived video–you would have found out that the matter was referred back to staff on a motion by Council member Bobby Richards. The contract was NOT awarded. And secondly, as you loosely report that Rob Mullane is “out of a job”–a subtly deceptive tone that might imply he was fired. Nothing close to the truth. Rob submitted his resignation for reasons only he knows. He was a good employee who decided to move on. We all wish him the best.

    • Royal Calkins March 19, 2017, 5:41 pm

      Councilwoman Carolyn Hardy is correct. The Partisan was close but no cigar. Rather than award the contract to Monterey Peninsula Engineering, the council called a “timeout.” Which is what we said, though we certainly could have been more clear and complete. As for Mullane, others at City Hall have said he was scapegoated for his role in recommending the various contracts now under review. We don’t know if he resigned voluntarily or if he was pushed. Generally, when folks leave on their own volition, they give two weeks notice, but we do not claim to know for sure what happened here. Also, we do not mean to suggest that he deserved to be terminated. Only a few weeks ago, he was said to be in line for promotion to assistant city administrator.