Thanks to Alderman Rick Lawrence's concerns about your taxdollars and making sure taxpayers are getting what they pay for, the 2005 City of Aurora Sidewalk Replacement program is under review for shoddy work that somehow was ignored by the city and certain officials, including Mayor Tom Weisner, for almost a year.
"They're junk (sidewalks)...we took $398,000 taxpayer dollars and threw it out the window."
-Alderman Rick Lawrence
Alderman Lawrence raised objections about this last year, but it took until this week for the Mayor and city officials to finally recognize the importance of holding this contractor accountable for fleecing the taxpayers...because the media was present?
According to the local fishwrap, Daryl Devick, assistant superintendent of Public Works, admits he was told of Alderman Lawrence's concerns early in the process. So, what did he do about it?
"I wrote them (M&A Cement) a nasty letter."
-Daryl Devick, Public Works
Ooooo...he later decided to see what they were doing AFTER they had completed their work in the 4th Ward and were then in the 3rd Ward.
So, where were the city inspectors on this? They apparently were around, so we aren't sure how it got by them, but at that time, the biggest focus on inspectors was Weisner trying to get them bicycles.
At a September city council meeting, there was a disputed vote on whether to pay part of the contract, but since Mayor Tom Weisner was AWOL from the meeting, the contractor ended up getting paid.
At this week's city council meeting (the same one on the drive-in issue), there was also a disputed vote with Devick trying to gloss over the problems with the sidewalks. At first, the following Alderman voted to waste your taxdollars and look the other way on the shoddy work:
Chris Beykirch, Whitey Peters, Abby Schuler
Scheketa Hart-Burns, Michael Saville
Juany Garza, Bob O'Connor
From what understand, a strange thing then happened. The council thought they were voting for the issue, but the clerk informed them they had actually voted for a motion on the issue, so they needed to still vote again. This gave Weisner a chance to say something.
Given the massive evidence Rick Lawrence had and knowing the media had seen it and was taking notes, Weisner flip-flopped on some of his own rubber-stamps and AGREED with Alderman Lawrence that the work must be redone or action must be taken.
We even applaud Tom Weisner for following the leadership of Alderman Lawrence on this issue, even if it is only because Weisner thought he would be left out holding crumling sidewalk gravel, the media was watching and he didn't want to look (more) foolish. Whatever it takes to get Tom Weisner to do his job, we are in favor of it.
Magically, the same alderman who had just voted against Alderman Lawrence trying to hold the contractor accountable, switched and there was a new 12-0 vote to hold any payment to the contractor. What changed other than Weisner's flip-flop and permission to vote with Lawrence? Nothing. Just the mayor admitting there was a problem. Otherwise, those 7 aldermen were prepared to sweep this under the rug and toss more of your taxdollars out the window.
We agree with Alderman Lawrence. We need oversight over how ALL the contractors are doing their work and how they are getting paid when they fail. We need city staff and engineers to make sure specs are followed, not just a concept. We need immediate action when things aren't going right so we don't waste further money and time. We need the mayor and his cronies to recognize it's YOUR money. We need each member of the city council to think independently.
Great job Rick Lawrence and kudos to Alderman Stephanie Kifowit for being on the side of accountability. And yes, we even congratulate Tom Weisner for flip-flopping on those 7 Aldermen who thought they were going along with him. We wonder if those 7 have learned a lesson.