By Wes May ECA Executive Director
Email: [email protected]

There are changes coming to the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works following the departure of department director Gail Farber, whose last day was December 31st.

Farber’s performance, in terms of getting work out to the construction industry, had been the topic of more than a dozen meetings with ECA and county officials at various levels. The county, particularly the flood control and water conservation districts have millions committed to projects on paper but mere hundreds of thousands actually going into the ground on an annual basis.

Deputy Chief Director Mark Pestrella is handling the executive functions while county CEO Sachi A. Hamai has started the search for a replacement.

Farber was appointed director in December 2008. In this capacity, she served as the County Engineer, County Road Commissioner, and Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, at a total salary in 2015 of $415,312.89 (according to Transparent California).

In addition to all the titles, Farber’s day job was managing the largest public works agency in the United States, with over 4,000 employee positions and a 2016-17 budget of more than $3.2 billion. It’s a lot of money and for several years very little of it showed up in construction projects.

AB 219 Back in Force

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, on December 16th, struck down the U.S. District Court preliminary injunction putting AB 219 on hold until it has gone through the litigation process. The law, which went into effect July 1 has been the subject of a suit by eight ready-mix suppliers objecting to paying prevailing wage for the act of delivering concrete to public works projects. The Court of Appeals granted a motion to stay the preliminary injunction, suspending it until it has a chance to rule on whether to uphold or overturn the injunction. According to the ruling, that won’t happen, at the earliest, until February 2017.

In the meantime, AB 219 is once again in full effect and the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) is free to enforce compliance by ready-mix companies (including, in the agency’s opinion, back wages due from the July 1, 2016 effective date of AB 210). It also means that contractors on public works projects should include the increased costs of ready-mix delivery in their bids on these jobs.

The legislature is watching the court proceedings with interest and is likely, regardless of the final outcome, to pass more laws like AB219 on all material suppliers.