SCANDAL FIGURES SAY THEY FOLLOWED LAUSD ORDERS.
Byline: Greg Gittrich Daily News Staff Writer
Amid a swirl of developments in the Belmont scandal, key figures identified in documents as responsible for allowing oil-contaminated soil to be used in site preparation for the nation's costliest school said Tuesday they were following orders from the project's lead contractor and the LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA) .
The statements came amid a chorus of official demands for criminal investigations into the construction of the Belmont Learning Center This Belmont Learning Center contains information about a building currently under construction.
It may contain information of a speculative nature, and the content may change dramatically as construction progresses and new information becomes available. and the abrupt resignation of the Los Angeles Unified School District The Los Angeles Unified School District (the "LAUSD") is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in California and the second-largest in the United States. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population. lawyer involved in an attempt to weaken environmental protections for new school sites.
At the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is the five member governing board of Los Angeles County, California. Members of the board of supervisors are elected by district, the current members as of April 2006 are:
(2) In facsimile, the difference in rectangularity between the received and transmitted page. toxicity tests at the site.
Turning up the heat, Don Mullinax, the school district's director of internal audits and special investigations, vowed to ask the District Attorney's Office to issue a number of search warrants to uncover all the information about soil contamination Soil contamination is the presence of man-made chemicals or other alteration in the natural soil environment. This type of contamination typically arises from the rupture of underground storage tanks, application of pesticides, percolation of contaminated surface water to at Belmont.
A Daily News investigation turned up construction notes and financial documents, which provide evidence contractors building the $170 million facility mixed tons of clean and contaminated contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object. soil. The financial documents and district correspondence also indicated that officials left soil contaminated with crude oil on the site and used it to grade the sloping property.
Despite repeated requests for the documents cited by the Daily News, Mullinax said Tuesday night his office still had not received a substantial amount of the material.
``We will pursue getting search warrant authority from the District Attorney's Office,'' Mullinax said. ``If the lack of information given to us at this point is a sign of how much people are going to cooperate with us, we're going to need that authority.''
Mullinax expressed most interest in 60 pages of construction field notes compiled by Steve Croasdale, an environmental consultant for Law/Crandall, a firm hired by the district to monitor soil excavation at Belmont.
In those notes, Croasdale wrote machinery used by Calex Engineering, the excavating subcontractor One who takes a portion of a contract from the principal contractor or from another subcontractor.
When an individual or a company is involved in a large-scale project, a contractor is often hired to see that the work is done. , was mixing clean and contaminated soil, thereby jeopardizing the validity of soil samples.
On Tuesday, Gerry Gibbs, a general manager for Calex, questioned the findings, arguing the machinery used was standard earth-moving equipment.
``Law/Crandall's people had the authority to red tag our work and stop it. If Croasdale felt (the work) was improper he had the authority to stop it.''
Law/Crandall's reports were submitted to the district on Feb. 11, but never handed over to officials on the School Safety Team. Law/Crandall continues to stand by Croasdale's field notes, officials said.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Gibbs, the excavation techniques used by Calex followed directives from district administrators and Kajima Urban Development, the lead company of Belmont's construction team.
``None of it came from us . . . We were written and directed how to do the work and told what type of machinery to use,'' he said. ``We have complete full documentation so we're not worried. We know our reputation is going to remain in good standing.''
Gibbs refused to specify who issued the directives, but pledged to turn over the documents to Mullinax.
Kajima did not return phone calls Tuesday, and district officials said they would not comment on Gibbs' claims until Mullinax' investigation is completed.
Memos written by Richard Lui Richard Lui is a news correspondent for Robin and Company, and occasionally serves as a substitute anchor on CNN and CNN Headline News. He joined CNN in 2005 as a CNN Pipeline anchor and is based in the network's world headquarters in Atlanta. , the LAUSD environmental health assessor for Belmont, indicate the district was aware of the soil contamination before Calex began its work at Belmont.
In a Jan. 13, 1998, memo, Lui wrote: ``Since crude oil is not regulated as a hazardous substance under (federal law), no additional removal of soil impacted with crude oil is necessary.''
Lui said Tuesday he did not make any of the decisions without permission from his supervisors.
``I didn't act alone,'' he said. ``My director and other people knew and approved of everything I was doing.''
Lui refused to discuss the decisions at length, but argued no laws had been broken.
When environmental inspectors from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control halted construction of Belmont in February, Superintendent Ruben Zacarias instituted a series of guidelines for the district, including a requirement to remove or remediate all petroleum-contaminated soil on campuses.
High levels of methane rising from the petroleum under Belmont have been detected in soil samples. Methane is extremely explosive when it accumulates and can carry aromatic carcinogens Carcinogens
Substances in the environment that cause cancer, presumably by inducing mutations, with prolonged exposure.
Mentioned in: Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer , including benzene benzene (bĕn`zēn, bĕnzēn`), colorless, flammable, toxic liquid with a pleasant aromatic odor. It boils at 80.1°C; and solidifies at 5.5°C;. Benzene is a hydrocarbon, with formula C6H6. , to the surface.
Angelo Bellomo, the top environmental scientist for the district School Safety Team, said a new battery of tests required by the state may be inadequate because of the information obtained by the Daily News. Bellomo said cost for the work will likely approach $1.7 million.
``The idea that the safety team only now has come aware of these facts, I find to be more than troubling,'' said Assemblyman as·sem·bly·man
A man who is a member of a legislative assembly.
pl -men a member of a legislative assembly
Noun 1. Scott Wildman Scott Wildman was a California State Assemblyman from 1996 until 2000. That year, he lost a State Senate primary to Dr. Jack Scott, an Assemblyman from a neighboring district. Wildman received 46.7% of the vote. , D-Glendale, chairman of a joint legislative audit committee investigating Belmont.
``This is mushrooming into the disaster we expected. The district needs to be held accountable in terms of its administrative staff, and several people need to be held accountable criminally.''
The motion introduced by Antonovich asks the District Attorney's Office to investigate any possible criminal action that occurred with regard to Belmont.
In February, the board unanimously approved an Antonovich motion for a grand jury investigation into financial and environmental problems at Belmont. ``So far, the silence from the grand jury and the district attorney on this vital issue has been deafening deaf·en·ing
A silence or lack of response that reveals something significant, such as disapproval or a lack of enthusiasm. ,'' Antonovich said.
The grand jury has authority to investigate matters of its own choosing, but it is the district attorney who launches grand jury criminal probes. Thus far, the District Attorney's Office has not opened an investigation.
Meanwhile, Brad Hogin, a LAUSD assistant general counsel, resigned Tuesday night. In recent weeks, Hogin had taken responsibility for making unauthorized amendments to a state Senate bill governing the selection of school sites. The changes, which contradicted district policy, cited the same federal law Lui cited in his memo to avoid excavating soil soaked with crude oil.
In a brief letter to district officials, Hogin made no mention of a recent inquiry into the amendments convened by state Sen. Tom Hayden Thomas Emmett "Tom" Hayden (born December 11, 1939) is an American social and political activist and politician, most famous for his involvement in the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s. , D-Los Angeles.
``I have determined that, on reflection, I would be happier in the long term in private practice,'' he wrote.
While Hogin could not be reached immediately for comment, board members and Zacarias issued a joint statement calling Hogin ``a model of integrity'' and ``a person of strong character.''
Board President Victoria Castro said Hogin had been ``crucified by Sen. Hayden.''Castro, the most vocal supporter of Belmont, has refused to comment directly on the Daily News findings, referring all questions to a district spokesman.
Hayden said her use of the word ``crucified'' was ``a little excessive.''
``As far as I could tell, Mr. Hogin was offered up by the district as a human sacrifice human sacrifice
Offering of the life of a human being to a god. In some ancient cultures, the killing of a human being, or the substitution of an animal for a person, was an attempt to commune with the god and to participate in the divine life. ,'' Hayden said. ``The responsibility goes back to the longtime Belmont proponents, including Vicky Castro. They have supported the building of this school regardless of its cost and toxic problems.''
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