Web Osi Speaks!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lexington Herald Leader Editorial: Courts Decide To Follow Law.

Courts decide to follow law

You kind of had the feeling a teacher was explaining the ridiculously obvious.

It arose only a few paragraphs into the opinion stating that construction managers or general contractors on courthouse projects are required to bond 100 percent of their performance:

"There are multiple independently sufficient reasons supporting this conclusion. First, the Rules of Administrative Procedures of the Court of Justice ... require that a CM-At Risk or GC furnish a 100% Performance and Payment Bond on a Courthouse Construction Program project."

In other words: Well, duh. Your own rules require it so what do you think?

That's pretty much the way it went as William Geisen, the attorney hired to audit the gonzo courthouse construction project started by former Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, ticked off the many reasons why contractors on those projects should follow the law.

Amazingly, in a December, 2007 meeting several construction managers and architects "apparently convinced" representatives of the Administrative Office of the Courts, which oversaw the building program, that they didn't need to follow those rules, Geisen wrote.

A neat trick, that, to convince people working for the office that oversees the court system that they can jettison the very Kentucky statutes the courts are supposed to interpret and enforce.

But they did, and contractors saved lots of money by bonding only their own fees, not the entire cost of the project as required. In some cases, according to reporter Linda Blackford, bonds weren't provided at all or only after the Herald-Leader began looking into the issue.

This would be disturbing in any governmental entity because it both disregarded the law and put counties at huge financial risk if things went wrong on projects that were inadequately or not at all bonded.

But, even worse, for the office that oversees the state court system to be so lax casts a pall over the justice system in Kentucky.

Chief Justice John Minton, who replaced Lambert, took a huge step toward restoring credibility by initiating the investigation, releasing Geisen's report and notifying county judges to require 100 percent bonding on courthouse projects.

This isn't the last we'll hear from Geisen, who is charged with auditing the entire building program, a long overdue effort.

Minton is also working to restore records of the court system and the AOC to public view. They've been closed since a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that they weren't subject to the state open records law.

Kentucky can only benefit from a court system that does its business in public, a pratice that has been long proven to increase accountability in government.

Editor's comment: Amazing, isn't it?

Read the opinion here.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home