Several years ago, voters approved a $3.3 billion construction bond for the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest two-year college system in the United States. Now, the bond is the subject of a massive whistleblower lawsuit.
David Salazar, who was to oversee the bond program when he arrived at the district two years ago, filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging he was fired in retaliation for publicly speaking out about some significant problems in the bond program. Among those problems were shady backroom politics, poor management and conflicts of interest between board trustees and construction firms.
Salazar was roundly criticized by trustees after bringing these issues to the forefront earlier this year. He was notified of his termination in March. In his whistleblower retaliation claim, he seeks full reinstatement or $1.6 million, covering five years of pay and benefits.
Concerns tied to construction costs
Salazar’s complaint says the issues he had with trustees and district officials began in November 2017, when he raised concerns about hiring for the bond program. Under its current model, the district gives contracts to multiple firms to manage construction work at the various campuses, but alternative models would have cut down the number of firms used. Salazar believed that alternative to be more efficient and financially effective, but decided to stay with the status quo out of fear that switching to the alternative would cause disruption and potentially set up a “pay to play” scenario.
The district asked its bond monitor to investigate the allegations, but Salazar believes the monitor to be biased and is seeking an independent investigator.
For more information on how to defend yourself against whistleblower retaliation, consult an experienced attorney with Kardell Law Group.