David Salazar, the chief facilities executive for the Los Angeles Community College District, has filed a whistleblower complaint after the district’s chancellor, Francisco Rodriguez, gave Salazar a notice of termination in March.
Salazar says in his complaint he discovered problems as he was starting to oversee a massive $3.3-billion construction bond program that voters had approved for the largest two-year college system in the nation, The Los Angeles Times reports.
He indicated nothing prepared him for what he said he found in the L.A. college district — “sloppy management, fierce backroom politics and entrenched relationships between board trustees and construction interests,” the newspaper reported.
Salazar alleges that Rodriguez fired him in retaliation for publicly outing problems in the construction program, The Times reports.
Salazar, currently on paid administrative leave, has asked for full reinstatement or $1.6 million to cover five years of pay and benefits.
“I believe that I was retaliated against for bringing to the forefront that the bond program had not been managed efficiently, nor in the best interests of the students we serve,” Salazar told the newspaper. “I was becoming a threat to too many people and they wanted me to be gone.”
His complaint alleges that Rodriguez, General Counsel Jeffrey Prieto and trustees Steven Veres, Gabriel Buelna and Andra Hoffman retaliated against him, the L.A. Times reports.
College spokesman William Boyer said in a statement that the college district does not publicly respond to specific allegations in whistleblower complaints. However, he said that “all complaints are treated with the utmost seriousness and are thoroughly reviewed. Any claims that are substantiated will be pursued accordingly.”
Boyer added that the district “is a staunch custodian of taxpayer money entrusted to the district through its BuildLACCD capital improvement construction and bond programs. The district has taken numerous steps with appropriate reviews and checks to ensure all expenditures are accurate and within the limits of policies and contracts … including the hiring of an independent bond monitor, Exiger.”