While Ron Littlepage is celebrating that our long courthouse nightmare may be close to an end, I am not optimistic. While building of the courthouse would provide much needed employment to the construction and affiliated industries, the City’s past stop-and-go history with this project, along with the City’s past history with contracts (think Shipyards, ProLogic, GreenBean Corporate Solutions, Ikon, and the proposed Waste Management no bid contract) and project overruns (the Equestrian Center, the Main Library, etc.) do not give me comfort that the courthouse can be built without exceeding the $350,000,000 now budgeted. Top that off with the City’s hiring of Sam Mousa, VP of JB Coxwell, at $225 per hour to oversee the building of the courthouse and, well, you may just have a well-directed disaster in the making.
Waiting in the wings is the grand jury investigation of the courthouse project that has resulted in extreme behavior on the part of both the City’s General Counsel, RIck Mullaney, and the State Attorney, Harry Shorstein, who has since stepped down from directing the investigation. WIth the appointment of a new State Attorney by Governor Crist to lead the investigation, the questions of why the courthouse costs have spiraled from $190 million to $350 million and where and why $65 million has been sunk into the project so far with nairy a brick to be built may soon be answered. But for some reason, I am doubtful that the grand jury findings will be significant. Maybe it’s the fact that the last grand jury convened glossed over Sunshine Law violations and the Peyton administration’s contracting messes.
Can someone please pinch me and wake me up from this nightmare?