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The California Department of Transportation hired Alex Morales III as statewide coordinator for compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As Jim Miller notes in the Sacramento Bee, Mr. Morales III, who was paid a base salary of $74,912, has been arrested for allegedly accepting “at least $100,000 in bribes, including an SUV, in return for steering Americans with Disabilities Act compliance projects to specific recipients.” The 21-count criminal complaint against Morales III, 55, prompted a statement from Caltrans boss Malcolm Doherty: “We have a set of values that drive Caltrans and this behavior is not consistent with those values. If an employee goes outside of those values, they don’t have a place in this department.” Taxpayers might wonder if the “set of values” Doherty touts includes accountability.
Caltrans oversaw the construction of the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, $5 billion over budget, ten years late, and still plagued with safety issues. In January 2014 state senator Mark DeSaulnier held hearings on the bridge charging “a deliberate and willful attempt to obfuscate what is happening to the public.” Whistleblowers called for a criminal investigation but none took place. Caltrans bridge project manager Tony Anziano conveniently retired and DeSaulnier, now a congressmen complains, “it’s frustrating that there’s never been anyone in the management of the bridge who has been held accountable.” He’s right about that, and a cost overrun of $5 billion for a bridge of questionable safety is a more serious matter than the charges against Mr. Morales III. Caltrans claims it will terminate him, but reporters might want to keep an eye on that.
Taxpayers, meanwhile, might consider how measures such as the ADA function as make-work projects for bureaucrats. According to the Federal Department of Labor, four federal agencies enforce the ADA: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Justice. The federal Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) is also involved and two agencies within the Department of Labor also enforce the ADA: the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, Programs (OFCCP) and the Civil Rights Center.