Department of Transportation employees received an email Monday asking them not to delete any documents regarding the contractor and consulting firm responsible for the faulty work along Interstate 84 in Greater Waterbury.
The email from DOT Attorney Denise Rodosevich stated that it was prompted to send out the email in light of the Attorney General’s litigation against L.G. Defelice, Inc.; Maguire Group, Inc.; Stephen V. Hallberg; William H. McGee; and several Defelice and Maguire employees. But its timing follows a weekend call by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to reorganize the DOT and Monday’s press conference by legislators to ask DOT officials to hand over documents it requested months ago.
DOT employees John Doody and John Vitale wondered why they received the email several months after the discrepancies were found by the agency.
This past weekend Rell said in a press release that she wanted to hire a consulting firm, firm J.R. Knowles USA/Hill International, and form a work group to reorganize one of the state’s largest agencies. Click here for the press release.
Vitale and Doody said it’s problematic to add another consultant to the mix, especially when the employees in the department are more than capable of highlighting the agencies problems.
Sen. Donald DeFronzo, Co-Chairman of the legislature’s Transportation Committee (pictured above) agreed. At a press conference Monday DeFronzo and other lawmakers said the state doesn’t need to hire a consultant to audit work by another consultant. DeFronzo called on Rell to force DOT officials to hand over documents, such as payroll and the names of individuals involved in the I-84 work, which the committee requested months ago.
“We should have had answers by now,” DeFronzo said. But he refused to call for a legislative investigation into the matter.
“We can do it, but a legislative committee is not the most efficient or effective way,” to investigate, he said, citing the General Administration and Election Committee’s investigation of the governor’s chief of staff last summer as an example of why legislative investigations are not effective. He said the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a grand jury is already conducting its own investigation.
But Republicans weren’t shy about calling for the Transportation Committee to step up to the plate and investigate. Sen. John McKinney, R-Southbury, said the Democrat-controlled Transportation Committee needs to do its job and use its oversight power to conduct its own investigation. He also used the opportunity to blast Democrats who killed his bill to create an Office of Inspector General that would have the power to investigate these matters.
While the I-84 debacle is the perfect example of why the state needs to pass some kind of contract reform, DeFronzo said the Democratic-majority was still working on a compromise with Rell who vetoed contract reform legislation three times last year. He said there’s two bills winding their way through the process and he hoped a compromise between Rell’s bill and the legislature’s bill could be worked out. If it’s not, then the Democratic leaders will take another look at it and decide whether they want to push the issue, DeFronzo said.
Are you concerned the contractor is still working for the state?
DeFronzo said we’re very concerned. Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, said “This is not just, ‘Is the road okay to drive on’, this is a public safety issue.” She said it needs to be repaired because now “we’re talking about people’s lives.”
Click here to read our story about how and why the same contractor is still working for the state.
And here to read about how the DOT could save money by making their own engineers oversee work by private contractors. The report highlights how 387 state employees to do the work currently contracted out could save taxpayers nearly $7 million a year.