May 7th, 2014 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Environment

Water District Backers Ask for Criminal Investigation of Sewer Office Building

news1-willcorwin3Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plant services facility - Will Corwin

Portland City Hall's water and sewer foes have asked the Multnomah County District Attorney to investigate  whether the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) violated government contracting laws while an office building for sewer workers tripled in cost.

Last week, WW examined how the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant services facility rose from $3.2 million to $11.4 million in price, thanks to cost overruns and silent approvals by the City Council.

The story looked at how a contractor, Skylab Architecture, promised the project "will be the poster-child facility for the BES."

KOIN-TV reporter Dan Tilkin charged on Tuesday that the city's top architect on the project left to work for Skylab late last year.

The backers of a ballot measure to remove City Council control of the water and sewer utilities have asked Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill to look into whether the Bureau of Environmental Services violated state laws governing public contracting.

"The City architect’s acceptance of a job offer," Kent Craford and Floy Jones write, "coinciding with repeated cost overruns, raise questions about whether there was any inappropriate influence over spending decisions on the project."

Craford and Jones also staged a City Hall press conference this morning calling for the resignation of the bureau's director, Dean Marriott.

Marriott, who has defended the project as "what you want from your government," today declined comment.

On April 25, after WW started asking questions about the project, City Commissioner Nick Fish, who now oversees the BES, asked City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade to investigate it in a formal audit. She has agreed.

 
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