April 16, 2014

Elyria
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Contract lawsuit could possibly mean delay for new Lorain High project

LORAIN — Don’t move the goalposts after the game kicks off.

That was the essence of county Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski’s decision Thursday on a lawsuit over construction of the new Lorain High School. Betleski said the state couldn’t reject a Project Labor Agreement for construction of the school after approving it.

“No party, even the state, can approve a contract, and then subsequently negate its promise by declaring the contract unlawful,” Betleski wrote in a ruling released Thursday in Elyria.

The agreement, approved by the Board of Education in December 2010 and the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission in January 2011, called for “good faith efforts” to ensure 50 percent of all project workers are from Lorain or Lorain County. The agreement also called for workers to be unionized and receive prevailing wages.

In February 2011, Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order forbidding agreements for projects involving state taxpayer money. State taxpayers are paying for 81 percent of the $73 million project. In April 2011, former Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson was sent a letter by the Facilities Commission. Despite the agreement being approved before the executive order, the letter said it was being dropped because construction bids hadn’t gone out.

School board attorney Anthony Giardini didn’t return a call Thursday, but previously said he didn’t know why Atkinson, who left in September 2011, never informed him or board members about the rejection. Giardini notified the North Central Ohio Building and Construction Council nearly two years after Atkinson received the letter. The council sued in July seeking an injunction on construction.

Betleski ruled that the project could continue with the agreement because the contract with the Facilities Commission is binding. He wrote the resolution the Facilities Commission was using to reject the agreement violates federal and state law.

Betleski wrote that workers would lose money without the agreement and that the agreements have traditionally led to projects finishing on time and under budget. He said Lorain and the county would receive more tax revenue due to the local hiring requirements.

“The court finds that the grant of this injunction would better benefit the public (than) would its denial,” Betleski wrote.

Rick Savors, a facilities commission spokesman, said he hadn’t seen Betleski’s ruling and doesn’t know if the commission will appeal. Superintendent Tom Tucker said the district had planned to seek construction bids in the next couple of weeks. Tucker said it was too early to say whether the project, scheduled to be completed at 2600 Ashland Ave. by August 2016, would be delayed due to the suit.

Students are temporarily being housed at the former Southview High School and Southview Middle School.

“I just want to see that high school built so we can get our students where they need to be,” Tucker said.

Board member Jim Smith said he also didn’t want to see students penalized. Smith said he is hopeful a compromise can be reached with the state in which the school district would pay for all cost overruns if the project goes over budget due to the agreement.

Smith said Kasich’s executive order was political. It came shortly after Kasich took office and while he was beginning an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to strip public unions of most of their bargaining rights.

Smith said Kasich is running for re-election and while he probably won’t get many votes in heavily Democratic Lorain County, fighting the agreement might cost him some of the few votes he may get.

“He may just say, ‘Hey guys, just swallow it and bid the damn thing out and if it comes in too high, we’ll figure something out,’” Smith said. “Then we can move forward and the kids will get their high school in 2016.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

 

  • Deborah

    And you can bet Kasich will blame his actions on someone else, just like Boehner does in this article.

    politicususa.com/2014/01/01/john-boehner-blames-president-obama-years-republican-incompetence.html

    • HankKwah

      “No party, even the state, can approve a contract, and then subsequently negate its promise by declaring the contract unlawful,”

      Someone better tell obama this, because that’s what he’s been doing with obamacare.

      • Deborah

        No, insurance companies have been trying to negate Obamacare because they don’t like having to actually supply a good insurance policy to the people whose money they take.

        • John Davidson

          If the insurance is so good then why do the Congress and all the Unions want out of it.

        • Larry Crnobrnja

          Insurance companies don’t like ACA? Now that is funny.

        • GreatRedeemer

          I would argue insurance with a $10,000 deductible subsidy, or not is no insurance at all.

        • HankKwah

          they don’t like having to actually supply a good insurance policy to the people whose money they take.

          That’s funny, because the same insurance companies were fine with supplying insurance to these same people before obamacare kicked in. Trouble is, obamacare deemed these people’s policies insufficient, yet it was exactly what they wanted. No one pays for something that they feel is poor quality; they take their money and shop until they find something they’re happy with.

          obamacare is faulty, in the first place, in that it REQUIRES people to buy insurance. Insurance companies now know that they can charge whatever they want because people HAVE to purchase coverage. What you do is set up a marketplace, where insurance companies have to compete, and you’ll see how low insurance can really be.

  • Denise Caruloff

    cant wait to read the depositions….

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    Isn’t it funny how one party can sue another party that forces a third, yet undetermined party how much they’ll pay their employees?

    All while children wait patiently for a new high school.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    What the real joke is gardwennie defending the schools, but is also holding hands with the unions……………nothing like some good ole inside help………………

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    “Betleski wrote that workers would lose money without the agreement and that the agreements have traditionally led to projects finishing on time and under budget. He said Lorain and the county would receive more tax revenue due to the local hiring requirements.”

    It certainly appears Betleski (the same dope who let Dembie live) is letting his opinion get in the way of following the law (again). Why does Lorain and Lorain County keep voting for these shmucks?

    • http://lorain365.wordpress.com/ Lorain 365

      Because you won’t come home and run for office.

  • Midview132

    As I read the article and the comments it amazes me how people always change the topic if the outcome does not say what they want it to say. This was a political move by Kasich, and what we have is people trying to change the topic and make it about Obama. Drop the smoke and mirrors and focus on what is going on here. This is a political move to try and attack unions plain and simple. If projects, as reported by the judge, come in under budget and on time how is that a bad thing. Well we turn it in to attack the judge personally not the facts of the matter. I remember during TARP(troubled asset relief program) passed by President Bush, that Fox news had people on their programs who were reporting that it was ok that the CEOs of corporations who took money from the government, were giving themselves millions dollar bonuses, the fox news analysts said that the companies had top because this was in the companies contract to do so. No when some of you dont like the contract. or it doesn’t meet your political agenda you want to negate every contract, if that is how you want things to be we can end America right now because we live in a country where we honor our contracts. If this project is done on time and on budget using people from Lorain County who earn a good wage how can we be mad about that? How can some of you sit there and say we cant tax companies we have to tax the workers, sit there and say we cant pay the workers a solid wage when they complete their jobs on time. It is simply because instead of coming up with logical fact based argument you resort to name calling and switching of the facts to meet your political agenda. I’m sick of it, the American public is sick of it, and instead of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling i cant hear you when presented with facts, how about getting of your rear end and start working to help fix the problems we have in this country instead of saying no we wont work with you and we wont do anything because you are a different political party than what I like. There is a contract now honor it.

    • stillsleepyeyes

      it’s hard to honor something that is only good for one side………………why not make it even across the board………..for everyone……………