Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Think We Got Troubles?

For those of us burdened with thoughts of Convention Centre overruns, Port Mann Bridge doubling, Richmond Skating Oval disasters and the like, consider the plight of the modern Venetian.

Below are 2 items from a Venice newsletter I receive each week concerning the immense fiasco known as the Calatrave Bridge.

Read it. All of it. It will make you laugh and cry. Your heart will sing. You'll take yourself out for dinner.

Greetings from Venice! The titbit of the week concerns the initial results of the inspection of the fourth bridge across the Grand Canal. The name that should be given to the bridge at its dedication, an event that has been postponed so many times without setting a specific opening date, is The Incapables’ Bridge. Frankly, this appellation, which is not in accord with the tradition of naming bridges after their designers, is not as evocative as the names of other bridges, but that is the cruel reality – the project has proved to be endless and has cost citizens a fortune. To use a very Italian word that, unfortunately, is lacking in grace, the project is a true “casino” in which technical, civil, penal and, last but not least, moral responsibilities are involved. The verification of the shortcomings is a sort of triumph for the angry citizens, though they are aware that they are the only ones who, through their taxes, will pay the price for all the problems. This ugly and useless bridge, which began as a sketch on a restaurant napkin and rapidly turned into a chronicle of ineptitude, is a great shame that, evidently, also involves the people who have neither stopped it nor responded to all the well-founded criticism. Have a great week, Rosalba

NEWS - The accusations brought by the supervisory authority against the Calatrava Bridge project, its architect, the project administrators, and the company in charge of construction are reasonably serious and deal with bookkeeping and with penal and disciplinary responsibilities related to public contracts. The Municipality was served by the national regulator with a document dated 21 December which was, subsequently, sent to the General Authority of the Court of Audit before being made public.The list of problems is quite long: the building firm was not prepared, the project was not adequately defined, and the Municipality erred in approving a contract that did not provide for intervention to limit damages. Mistakes have also been cited in the architectural master plan approved by Calatrava’s office and in the Municipality’s management of the contract. Moreover, there are some deficiencies associated with Cignoni, the company in charge of construction, and the consequent cost overruns. The Municipality should have proceeded with “the compulsory rescission of the contract” back in 2004 and “work should have been completed on 16 February 2004.” Costs rose from “6.72 million to 10.7 million euros, an increase of 3.981 million that is equal to almost 59%, with the exception of the settlement reached during the course of the project.” At present, Cignoni is asking for seven million euros while the Municipality only recognises one million.Since the metal work totals 43 percent of the budget, general construction 40 percent, and specialised foundation work 17 percent, the report comments in particular on the allocation of funds to the Og3 category (streets) instead of Os18 (steel structures), making it possible for the company which offered the lowest price – Cignoni – to win the contract without being qualified to fabricate the steel components for the bridge. Such a serious mistake by the Municipality meant that a qualified firm could not be selected. Given the situation, Cignoni then assigned the foundry work to a company, Lorenzon, that could handle it competently, but Cignoni should have subcontracted the work as an employment arrangement and not identified it as purchased material, according to the contract, the inspectors say.Other problems were under-estimated and there were additional general errors, including some in Calatrava’s master plan for which he charged 475,000 euros (plus 91,800 for architectural consultancy and 67,000 for technical consultancy). All of this is in spite of what Mayor Cacciari had declared -- that the bridge was a “present” to the city. The project needed to be modified six times during construction, with an attendant increase in cost and time. Neither the expense of testing (243,000 euro) nor of the 24-hour monitoring (1 million euro per year for at least five years) had been factored into the budget. In the end, it was a project handled by a team of beginners, to say the least.

Freedom to Hate Week

Greg Felton believes that Jews are responsible for 911.

Greg Felton was fired about 9 years ago from his job as writer for The Vancouver Courier, a Canwest newspaper, owned by the Asper family, Winnipeg Jews.

Felton is obsessed with his hatred for Jews.

I know this because I worked with him for 8 months as we entered the 21st century.

He is incapable of maintaining a human conversation for longer than 4 minutes without beginning his rant against Jews.

Now, the Vancouver Public Library is giving him a stage to discuss his new book. This is the library's contribution to Freedom to Read Week.

The Library should have its head examined.

There are hate crimes and hate laws in this country. Perhaps you don't think we should have them. But for the moment, we do.

Is freedom of speech limitless?
Read Terry Glavin's editorial in this morning's Sun here.

The More The Merrier

Let's hope that Peter Ladner's bid to keep the NPA from anointing The Nutty One is successful.

Anythind that points to the end of this disgraceful administration is a welcome sign.

Richmond Broom Ball

The Richmond dirt was hidden away in a tiny piece on page B2 in this morning's Sun.

Mario Ferreira, a Richmond city employee, left work 6 years ago, sued the city for harrassment and finally settled out of court.

The city will never say what this was about or who did what to whom or what their libilities or responsibilites might be.

Sweep, sweep, sweep...

Nice work, Richmond.

Happy Anniversary, Wherever You Are

Today is the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," the biggest selling album of all time.

I wanted to show it to you, but you cannot upload it from YouTube.

Well, just go back into the garage, find the old VHS and crank it up one more time.

And careful doing those turns on the living room carpet. You might want to move the coffee table back a bit first.