The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Boston Convention - the cost of overruns?

If I understand it aright [1], the Dems - the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC), to be precise - have hired the FleetCenter as is from owners New Boston Garden Corporation [2]; and have themselves contracted with Boston company Shawmut Design and Construction [3] to be construction managers of the project to convert the location for the Convention.

I see no mention of any performance bond or completion guarantee - perhaps with an agreement like this, such things are standard. If the DNCC is covered for cost overruns due to labour disputes, the Globe hed, Delays could prove costly for DNC might be a tad misleading. (Though not all costs are financial; and consquential loss - perhaps meeting excess costs of broadcasters for a shorter than agreed period for them to set up - might not be covered.)

It also doesn't state how many hours a week the site is being worked, according to the original plan: obviously, the closer to 168 hours, the less scope for additional overtime working.

It's not something one can second-guess - as is patently obvious, I certainly couldn't! But I suspect that the amount of slack in the schedule - and when and on what jobs the slack is forecast to arise - may affect the gaming of the City's dispute with the cops.

The overruns have already started: the Globe on May 13 says
One convention organizer said that the production figure, originally pegged at $5.9 million, has exceeded $8 million and that the construction cost estimates, once pegged at $7.2 million, now top $10 million.

Considering the management contract was only let at the end of January, this is a pretty fancy rate of inflation!

David Passafaro, Chairman of Boston 2004 [4]
insisted that the final budget is not complete and that no game plan has been developed for finding the funds or cutting back on construction and production plans for the FleetCenter.

The 2000 convention had an overrun of $7 million, apparently.

I suspect that the financial costs of further overruns arising from the police dispute would be bearable, even if the DNCC had to pay. And that, one way or another, the venue will be in some state to open the Convention on schedule on July 26. But if, in order to get it in that state on time, corners have been cut that piss off those thousands of broadcasters, journalists, delegates crammed into the place - think temporary failure of the air-conditioning - one can see a sour tone developing.

And, since the Convention serves no other purpose than convey the positive tone of a winning team...

  1. I'm working from a Globe piece from today and a couple of pages (this and this) from the Massachusetts Dem Party site Convention page, (The Boston 2004 site is here.)

  2. Of the Delaware North Companies Inc group. A FleetCenter manager is quoted by the Globe:
    As of eight o'clock [Monday] morning, we officially turned over the keys to the DNCC. We're in essence just the landlord, and they've rented the building starting June 8 through Aug. 13, the date we get the building back from them.
    The rent in all comes to $3.5 million, apparently.

  3. Politics being what they are, affirmative action rears its ugly head: a Globe piece of January 29 states that
    the architectural firm Primary Group, SAR Engineering, and Bruce Bolling, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance of Small Contractors, who be [sic] a consultant to bring in minority- and women-owned subcontractors.
    Apparently, the open sesame acronyms are MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) and WBE for women.

    Apparently, Shawmut

    guaranteed at least 50% MBE/WBE participation among its subcontractors.
    At the same time this largesse was being announced,
    two city councilors, Chuck Turner and Felix Arroyo, called for a hearing into steps being taken to hire minority firms and as a black activist threatened to hold a press conference outside convention headquarters to protest the committee's "deliberate exclusion of the community of color."
    And - guess who comes out of the woodwork? None other than purveyor of fake Iraq torture photos, Sadiki Kambon - my piece of May 13. In his own private initiative to share the wealth
    he submitted an unsolicted proposal to the DNC that his group, The Umoja Coalition for Our Fair Share, be hired as a liaison to the minority community for $181,000.
    This was apparently a shakedown too far for the Dems, who failed to take him up on his kind offer!

  4. Which, I think, is responsible for Convention activities outside the FleetCenter.


I had overlooked in my pleasure at remembering the Kambon fake photo connection (Note 3 above) that his partner in deceit was none other than Councilman Chuck Turner (also Note 3). The Boston shakedown industry is a rather small world, it seems...

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