Friday, November 9, 2007

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A timeline of the MnDOT projects in question

2001 - 2004 Construction phase of the $715 million Hiawatha light rail line, Minnesota's largest public works project, with the contract awarded to Granite, McCrossan and Parsons Group.
2002 Joanne Wagner appointed director of MnDOT's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity/contract management.
2003 Minnesota lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty agree on a $900 million transportation funding package for a dozen large road and bridge projects, including the rebuilding of I-494 in the southwestern metro area.
June 2004 Wagner and staff recommend against awarding the I-494 bid to Granite and McCrossan, concluding the contractors' DBE goal of 4.3 percent does not make a good faith effort toward MnDOT's 14 percent goal.
July 2004 MnDOT Deputy Commissioner Douglas Differt reconsiders the staff recommendation and awards the contract to Granite and McCrossan.
Aug. 2004 MnDOT news release: MnDOT awards a $135.6 million contract to Granite Construction of Watsonville, Calif., and C.S. McCrossan, Inc. of Maple Grove to design and build a reconstruction project that will add one additional traffic lane in each direction on a 7.8-mile section of I-494 between Hwy 5 in Eden Prairie and I-394 in Minnetonka.
2005 Joanne Wagner is demoted and her salary is cut. The office of EEO/CM is reorganized and its independence diminished, Wagner says.
Aug. 8, 2006 Auditors at the Metropolitan Council deliver a 17-page internal summary saying the prime contractors on the Hiawatha project, Granite and McCrossan, gave credit to DBEs for work that was not done, or gave credit to companies that are not DBEs. The Met Council document cites similar conclusions reached by federal investigator George Sullivan.
Sept. 2006 MnDOT's Joanne Wagner files a whistleblower complaint with the state of Minnesota. The complaint became a whistleblower lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court in May, 2007.
Dec. 22, 2006 Letter from MnDOT Commissioner and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau and Met Council chair Peter Bell to the prime contractors on the Hiawatha project, Granite and McCrossan, informs them of a $4.2 million fine for not attaining the DBE goal. The goal was 15 percent, but MnDOT calculated the contractors attained only 7.5 percent DBE level.
July 2, 2007 Through their Minneapolis attorney Dean Thomson, Granite and McCrossan file a 123-page response to the MnDOT and Met Council sanctions, describing them as factually and legally flawed. The companies claim they performed the work in good faith, pointing out they were praised by various public entities for their performance.
July 9, 2007 A letter from MnDOT informs Granite and McCrossan of a $200,000 fine and probation for failing to meet the DBE goal on the I-494 project. The MnDOT goal was more than 14 percent, but the contractors attained a level of only 4.7 percent.
Oct. 2007 Acting on a request from MPR News, MnDOT releases the 2005 NERA study showing the agency's lack of DBE attainment from 2000 to 2004. The study concludes the DBE level was 5.5 percent on $2.6 billion worth of contracts. The pool of DBEs in Minnesota means the agency could have attained a level of at least 15.3 percent, according the study's authors.
Nov. 1, 2007 In a closed mediation session, MnDOT agrees to pay Joanne Wagner $170,000 to settle her whistleblower suit. MnDOT admits no guilt. Wagner resigns from MnDOT.

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