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Archive for September 12th, 2011

12
Sep

Mayor says no public money will be used to fix Antelope Valley bridges

Antelope Valley channel in 2010.


Mayor Chris Beutler and the Joint Antelope Valley Authority announced Monday that seven bridges in the Antelope Valley Project area will be repaired at no cost to taxpayers.

An agreement was reached last week with project consultants and contractors to repair areas of cracking concrete surface material on the bottoms of the bridges. The agreement includes the assignment of financial responsibility. Repair work will begin this week and is expected to be completed in mid-November.

“The consultants and contractors took total financial responsibility, and the JAVA partners were even reimbursed $30,000 to defray expenses related to the repairs,” Beutler said in a press release. “We did exactly what the public asked of us: we insisted on accountability and held the taxpayer harmless. … I want to thank the consultants and contractors for stepping up and helping find a solution.”

The primary consultants and contractors are Parsons Brinckerhoff Americas, Inc.; Hawkins Construction Company; Constructors Inc.; United Contractors Inc.; and Watts Electric Company.

The bridges opened to traffic between July 2007 and October 2009. Defects were discovered by city staff late last year and trails under the bridges were closed Jan. 4 after an 18-inch piece of concrete fell from the O Street bridge. The trails were reopened Jan. 28 after temporary bridge repairs.

The mayor thanked the Federal Highway Administration and the Nebraska Department of Roads for their work on the issue. The NDOR’s independent evaluation concluded the problems were caused by several factors, including the absence of required drainage in electrical conduits, poor workmanship and poor inspections. The NDOR also found a problem with roadway expansion joints which will be corrected by the city. The NDOR report also covered the extent of the damage and proposed solutions. The estimated cost of the repairs is about $250,000.

“In the course of a project as large as Antelope Valley, it is not unusual to have aspects that don’t work as planned,” Beutler said. “In this case, a problem was identified, project leadership demanded accountability on behalf of taxpayers, and good corporate citizens stepped in to fix the problems. It is a successful conclusion to a difficult challenge.”

The repair plans were approved by federal and state officials in August. Repair work will begin on the Military Road Bridge and will proceed south to the “Y”, Vine, “P”, “Q”, “O” and “N” street bridges. Temporary trail closures will be necessary.

12
Sep

Dems say Bruning failed to disclose Nelnet cabin to state

The state Democratic Party filed a complaint today alleging Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Jon Bruning failed to properly disclose his part ownership of a $675,000 Ashland cabin to the state.

Jon Bruning

Office holders and candidates must disclose ownership of real estate to the state Accountability & Disclosure Commission — and Bruning has not reported his ownership of a cabin he bought with two Nelnet executives in 2008 on any of the annual A&D reports he must file. However, he did list the LLC that he and the Nelnet executives formed to buy the property in 2008 and 2010, but not 2009.

The purchase of the cabin is a “clear conflict of interest” — a year prior, Bruning tried to waive a $1 million settlement with Nelnet, but backed down after getting heat because he received campaign contributions from the Lincoln student loan company and its administrators — said Brandon Lorenz, communications director for the state Democratic Party. He alleged that Bruning was either negligent or trying to cover up the cabin purchase by not listing it on the state financial disclosure forms.

The Democrats also said Bruning failed to list the addresses of businesses he is associated with and sources of any income he earns on the A&D forms.

Bruning has been under scrutiny in recent weeks since his federal financial disclosure forms revealed he has become a multimillionaire since beginning his political career about 15 years ago.

Bruning’s campaign manager, Trent Fellers, attended the Democrats’ press conference this morning and afterward said it was nothing more than U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson and the Democrats trying to divert attention from his votes on “big government spending and Obamacare.” He noted that Nelson is spending $200,000 on TV advertising already — 14 months before he is up for re-election.

“I think it just goes to show how scared they are to lose this race,” Fellers said.

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