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Caltrans Wasted Money on PR for Construction

October 02, 1994

The reopening of the Simi Valley Freeway in Granada Hills has been marred by the fact that Caltrans wasted a huge amount of tax money on public relations for the construction. Apparently deciding its own people couldn't handle its own community relations, Caltrans approved two PR firms (The Sierra Group and Century Diversified) in two contracts totaling over $308,000 from January to September.

The contracts show the PR firms were being compensated at rates ranging from $121.16 to $25.20 per hour. This is the total of the base amounts of $72.12 and $15 per hour, plus overhead of 128%, fringe benefits of 28% and a fee of 12%.

The PR firms were grossly lacking in looking out for the local residents. They had no office at the construction project, preferring to operate out of Rosemead. They did not even have a sign at the project directing the public to them for six months, and when they put up signs, they were so small that you needed to be standing next to them to read them. Even though the contracts called for biweekly meetings with the community, they hardly held a meeting once a month. Maybe the most ludicrous rip-off was for several hundred hours charged for a beeper service and monitoring, costing upward of $100,000.

Don't we all wish we could have made out in the earthquake as well as Caltrans' favored consultants?

CARL OLSON

Granada Hills

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