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Council OKs up to $250,000 two-year consulting deal with Earth Tech, Inc. on improving delivery of City Hall's Capital Improvement Program

Read City Hall documents detailing funding and scope of services

(August 8, 2001) -- At its August 7 meeting, the City Council voted to authorize the City Manager to enter into an agreement with LB-based Earth Tech, Inc. that could pay the firm up to $250,000 over two years for consulting services in connection with delivery of City Hall's Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

The vote was 7-0, with Councilmembers Colonna and Kell (both present elsewhere in the meeting) absent from the Council chamber when the vote was called. Vice Mayor Baker made the motion to approve, seconded by Councilmember Bonnie Lowenthal.

City Hall's CIP encompasses numerous infrastructure projects, including street and sidewalk repair. A written memo to Councilmembers from LB Public Works Director Ed Shikada outlined the proposed consulting arrangement and we reproduce Mr. Shikada's memo verbatim, below.

In pertinent part, the memo says Earth Tech will provide professional services in two areas: "(a) procedural evaluation of current City CIP delivery policies and practices, and (b) temporary project liaison services, in which Earth Tech will facilitate work by design consultants and develop technical and administrative guidelines in order to improve the consistency and effectiveness of future consultant engagements."

Two members of the public, Thomas Murphy and John Donaldson, spoke in opposition to the deal. Neither criticized Earth Tech but both questioned spending up to a quarter million taxpayer dollars for something they indicated city staff should be expected to do.

"..I just can't figure out why the city at the present time, with all its hard working, dedicated city employees, if given half a chance, doesn't have a few capable employees that could do the same work if necessary, due to the city's financial situation," Mr. Murphy said.

Mr. Donaldson said:

"This is nothing against Earth Tech, I think they're a fine company, glad to have them in Long Beach...[but] if you go and look at the city's staffing, and the number of people in the Public Works Dept. whose sole job it is to administer and carry out capital improvement projects, there certainly are a lot of them that make more than $60,000 a year...I just am somewhat perplexed that we cannot find those talents in project management within our own city staff. They are certainly not something that is the exclusive domain of any contractor..."

Not one Councilmember discussed the proposed $250,000 expenditure publicly, none responded to the points raised by taxpayers, none questioned city staff about the six figure consulting contract. Beyond uttering a motion and a second, not one Councilmember present (B. Lowenthal, Baker, Carroll, Richardson-Batts, Grabinski, Webb & Shultz) spoke a word before casting their vote approving the deal.

However, within minutes, the Council's vote drew fire during a subsequent Council discussion of the utility tax. (Councilman Grabinski had raised the issue of capping the utility tax to avoid a City Hall windfall if underlying utility rates rise; LBCUR leaders asked this be done immediately but Grabinski proposed, and the Council voted, to first get a report from the City Manager; LBCUR co-chair John Donaldson called this a "milquetoast motion."]

During the utility tax discussion, Mr. Ron Noe, a co-chair of LB Citizens for Utility Reform, pointedly referred to the Council's approval of the consulting arrangement:

"Earlier tonight, the Council approved up to a quarter million dollars for a consulting deal with Earth Tech. This must mean that the Public Works Department was over-budgeted in the first place. This is a complete waste of the of the taxpayers' money for receiving nothing more than a glorified term paper in return."

City staff's memo indicated that of the $250,000 maximum contract amount, roughly $100,000 would be spent for "procedural [CIP] evaluation" and sufficient funds are budgeted in the Dept. of Public Works for this; the remainder of the contract would be funded within "existing appropriations for these specific [CIP] projects." requested, and the LB Dept. of Public Works provided, the pertinent part of the original RFP [Request for Proposals]. A cover memo, dated November 22, 2000 from then-City Engineer Ed Putz, solicited "proposals from qualified firms to provide temporary supplemental technical and engineering staffing for its operating programs and the City's Capital Improvement Program."

In pertinent part, the RFP stated:


The City of Long Beach Department of Public Works is responsible for the engineering, design, inspection and maintenance of all publicly owned facilities, streets and street lighting throughout the City and the tideland ares. The Department's responsibility includes both its operating programs and the City's capital improvement programs.

In an effort to increase productivity and enhance efficiency, there is a demand from time to time for temporary technical and engineering staffing. In line with this, the Department of Public Works intends to enter into temporary technical and engineering staffing agreement for a 24-month period. The Department shall reserve the right to extend the term for three consecutive years.


The City of Long Beach Department of Public Works is seeking proposals from qualified firms to provide full-service temporary technical and engineering support to the Department of Public Works. ...

Mr. Shikada told the consulting arrangement followed a verbal presentation by Earth Tech and subsequent negotiations between the firm and City Hall. As stated in his memo to the City Council, "In the course of evaluating the proposals received [in response to the RFP], one of the firms submitting a proposal, Earth Tech, Inc., and the City engaged in discussions of alternative means of improving staff effectiveness at completing CIP projects."

Mr. Shikada provided with the actual Scope of Service (six pages) that will apply to the proposed consulting arrangement. We have posted it verbatim in pdf form and it can be viewed by clicking on Proposed consulting scope of service.

Mr. Shikada indicated the sums to be paid are within the Council-approved budget for the current, now closing, 2000-01 fiscal year. The potential quarter million dollar consulting deal comes near the end of the 2000-2001 fiscal year (ends Sept. 30), just days before the Mayor is due to release the City Manager's proposed 2001-2002 budget with the Mayor's proposed recommendations.

If the Council had not obligated taxpayers for the up to $250,000 consulting contract, the unspent taxpayer money from the current budget might have been carried over to next year's budget, possibly used directly for street and sidewalk repair, other infrastructure projects or returned to the General Fund for other purposes ranging from police, to fire to libraries.

The City Council has final decision making and spending authority over the budget.

August 7,2001

City of Long Beach
Long Beach, California

SUBJECT: Agreement with Earth Tech, Inc., for Capital Improvement Program Consulting Services (Citywide)


As a follow-up to prior City Council discussions regarding capital project management and delivery, the City Manager's office has initiated a multi-departmental review of project management processes and issues. One area of focus is the City's current method of administering projects under the Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The Department of Public Works recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to provide temporary supplemental technical and engineering staffing for ongoing CIP projects. In the course of evaluating the proposals received, one of the firms submitting a proposal, Earth Tech, Inc., and the City engaged in discussions of alternative means of improving staff effectiveness at completing CIP projects.

Based on their proposal, staff recommends that the City enter into an agreement with Earth Tech for professional services in two areas: (a) procedural evaluation of current City CIP delivery policies and practices, and (b) temporary project liaison services, in which Earth Tech will facilitate work by design consultants and develop technical and administrative guidelines in order to improve the consistency and effectiveness of future consultant engagements.

This matter was reviewed by Deputy City Attorney Donna Gwin on July 23, 2001, and Budget Manager Annette Hough on July 23, 2001.


This action is not time critical.


The cost of consultant services will not exceed $250,000. Of this total, approximately $100,000 will be expended for the CIP procedural evaluation. Sufficient funds are budgeted in the General Purpose Fund (GP1OO) in the Department of Public Works (PW) to support this activity. The remainder of the contract will be expended for liaison services for specific CIP projects, and funded within existing appropriations for these specific projects.


Authorize the City Manager to execute an agreement with Earth Tech, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $250,000 for the subject services, for a two-year term.


HENRY TABOADA [/s by Gerry Miller indicated for Mr. Taboada]

Earth Tech's web site contains a link ("our story") which states in pertinent part:

...Earth Tech [is]...a global leader in the water, environmental, transportation, and construction marketplace. Over the last three decades we have grown, dramatically, to help realize the promises our clients' projects bring to the world--adequate and clean water supply, clean air, urban development and infrastructure, transportation systems. Today, there's virtually no challenge in the built and natural environments that we aren't prepared to design, build, upgrade, operate, and finance somewhere on the planet. A member of the Tyco International Ltd. family, Earth Tech is a major force in global water management; environmental, remediation and waste; architecture, engineering and construction and transportation services. Through strategic growth, we have steadily expanded our technical capabilities, geographic presence, and client base. With revenues at nearly a billion dollars, thousands of Earth Tech employees serve clients from offices around the world. And as long as there are companies, institutions, and government agencies with promises to keep, Earth Tech will be ready to fulfill them.

We also post verbatim below a press release issued earlier this year by Earth Tech after the firm and the City of Long Beach received an award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognizing "outstanding partnerships between cities and companies" in connection with the "Manufacturing Empowerment Zone" project at the LB Naval Shipyard.

Begin text:


LONG BEACH, CA, (January 29, 2001) -The City of Long Beach and Earth Tech have received an Outstanding Achievement Award from The U.S. Conference of Mayors for the Manufacturing Empowerment Zone (MEZ) project at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill and Earth Tech CEO and President Diane C. Creel traveled to Washington D.C. for the awards ceremony, which was held on January 19, 2001.

"The impact this project has had on small businesses in Long Beach and the region has been extremely positive and that is very gratifying," said Mayor Beverly O'Neill. "Our city was faced with an estimated $1.75 billion economic loss due to the closing of the Long Beach Naval Station and Shipyard, and we had planned a number of initiatives to create new jobs and increase economic capacity. One of them was this innovative, self-funding collaboration between the Navy, Long Beach and Earth Tech, which has employed former shipyard workers to help put former shipyard equipment in the hands of local businesses at reasonable prices. I am pleased and proud to say it's working."

Under the project guidelines, Earth Tech was responsible for implementing an ambitious program of inventorying, packaging, marketing and distributing literally thousands of pieces of equipment to local and regional businesses. Initial sales were conducted exclusively to small, minority and disadvantaged businesses located in Long Beach. These businesses were able to purchase useable quantities of tools and equipment at affordable prices, which allowed many to expand productivity and employment. The sales proceeds cover the cost of administering the program and save the City of Long Beach and the Navy from any related expense.

"This innovative project demonstrates the significant impact public/private teamwork can have on a community," said Diane C. Creel. "By working together, we have been able to create a win-win situation not only for Earth Tech and Long Beach, but for local and regional small to medium-sized businesses as well. To date, over 325 businesses have received machinery and equipment with a market value of over $13 million"

In announcing these Awards, Conference Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran remarked, "All of these partnerships share in common a synergy that brought positive changes in the ways city services are delivered. In recent years, in city after city, we have seen how partnerships have resulted in new and creative approaches to solving some of the most intractable problems faced by cities. These Public/Private Partnership award winners can inspire other cities and companies to work together to improve the quality of life for all city residents."

The Excellence in Public/Private Partnership Awards, recognizes outstanding partnerships between cities and companies. An independent panel of judges was appointed by the Conference of Mayors to review the submissions. Criteria upon which their selections were made included: improvement in delivery of services, replicability, sustainability, cost savings, creativity of approach, benefits to both public and private partners, economic and business benefits, and measurable results.

About Earth Tech

Earth Tech is a global provider of water management, engineering technology and environmental and transportation services. It is a $1 billion company headquartered in Long Beach, CA. Earth Tech employs 7,500 people in more than 150 offices throughout the world. For more information about Earth Tech, visit

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