Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Taxpayers left holding the bag for $45 million in Silver Spring Transit Center fiasco settlement

Is this a thing of beauty, or what?
Montgomery County taxpayers are left holding the bag in the Silver Spring Transit Center debacle settlement agreed to yesterday. County officials attempting to cover-up their failure to conduct their oversight role on the project filed a weak lawsuit in a case where they themselves were mostly to blame.

The result? Realizing they could not win, the County's ultra-expensive legal team reached a chump change settlement worth a paltry $25 million. That leaves you, the taxpayer, holding the bag and paying $42 million for the remainder of the $47 million in cost overruns, $20 million in damages, and $10 million in legal fees. The settlement also requires the County (a.k.a. you, the taxpayer) to pay $3 million to Foulger-Pratt to settle their countersuit, which was directly caused by the incompetence of the County and County Council. You are now on the hook for a total of $45 million.

The surrender settlement, while inevitable given the County's woefully-weak case, was a total betrayal of the promises made by County Executive Ike Leggett and the County Council. Leggett stated he would not leave taxpayers on the hook for even a penny of the cost overruns. Councilmember George Leventhal promised the Brickyard Coalition in 2014 that he would "ensure taxpayers will not be on the hook for the remediation of the transit center." Councilmember Hans Riemer said in April 2013 he would "protect the taxpayers."

Once safely reelected, Leventhal and his colleagues abruptly turned around and made multiple new appropriations of tens of millions of dollars for the transit center. The taxpayers be damned!, was the clear message from the Council.

On Election Day 2018, voters will deliver the overdue "rough, seat of the pants estimate" Leventhal and his colleagues asked for in January 2015 - with a steel-toed boot.



  1. Oh, no! I, the taxpayer, now have to pay the imaginary $20M in damages?! Say it ain't so! Let's be real, Robert: cost overruns due to design and concrete issues were $30M; the county recovered $25M. Seems like a fair settlement and certainly beats many years of litigation and an unknown outcome.

    1. I sure hope those lawyers Ike hired don't charge for their work on the case.

      You can be happy with the result of this case if you want, but total mismanagement from Ike on down was a good reason for this big mess. I'm unhappy our tax dollars are used so frivolously. And even more annoyed that Ike "promised" and "guaranteed" we wouldn't pay a cents for this. Granted, I knew he was full of crap when he said it. But, when you say stuff like that and get caught lying then people should be angry and give him an earful.

    2. Huh? Taxpayer dollars were spent frivolously on a lawsuit that netted the county tens of millions of dollars? People should be angry at Ike for that? I bet you were one of the people months back who said the county would never see any money, much less $25M.

    3. I was saying the money was spent frivolously on the transit center project because it was managed so poorly. That is why people should be angry. Why you aren't is beyond me. Have you come to accept incompetence?

      If you made the bet that I was one of the people saying the county wouldn't recoup any of the money you would have lost that bet.

    4. Obviously the project's delays were an inconvenience; I had to walk an extra block around the damn thing for years. I'm glad the design firm and general contractor were sued and I'm glad it cost them $25M+their legal fees+their reputations.

    5. 10:29: Not sure what you've been smoking, but the County ends up with a net loss of $45 million, which will be borne by the taxpayers.

      You better believe people are angry about that!


      Legal fees were $10 million and counting alone!

      11:37: All of the firms sued by the County continue to easily find work. Their reputations have not been harmed, but the County's has.