A mutual benefit organization or pay-to-play?

Posted on March 28, 2011

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Judicial Council Watcher has been carefully analyzing an anonymous tip we received asking us to take a good hard look at the Western Council of Construction Consumers and suggesting other media, press and journalists do the same.

To follow along, please open a link to wccc.org in your browser.

WCCC Members
Make a Difference in the
Construction Industry.

Western Council of Construction Consumers (WCCC) serves as a forum for Owners involved with commercial, institutional and industrial construction. For thirty years the non-profit council has provided its members with the resources and support necessary to fully develop and advance in the areas of operations and maintenance, safety, cost-efficiency, professional development and overall quality construction.

It sounds innocent enough unless you’re involved in the construction industry. If you’re involved in the construction industry, you might be asking why an organization like this exists purportedly for the benefit of those who hold construction purse strings and why its leader and member of the year is AOC Director Lee Willoughby who is the principal decisionmaker on over 6.5 billion dollars of court construction funds.

Click on the menu item “Guiding Principles” and if you’re involved in the construction industry, the mission statement of this organization warrants passing the red flags over for a large fireworks display and crying foul.

Our mission is to provide resources and support to assist our membership in professional development; improved company operations and maintenance; safety; and quality, cost-effective construction.

Key words to look out for here are “Members”, “Membership” and “Associates”. Most in the construction industry see unprecedented access to the decisionmaker, if only they cough up the member or associate member dues. Construction professionals see that professional development comes in the form of associates getting work due to this unprecedented access. 

So what do members get out of it because it just doesn’t add up. Let us explain why. 

When you’re involved in the construction industry and you’re a large construction consumer,  it is unnecessary for the large construction consumer to go much beyond opening their door or answering their phone at work to get all the benefits and services that this organization purports to promote and provide because the people that want your business are all too happy to educate you at no or very low cost to encourage you to specify either their products or services.

Public Members pay $1,900 per year to Mr. Willoughby’s little not for profit.  Private members and affiliates, those who desire member business, pay on a sliding scale based on revenues. One of the principal sponsors of this organization based on revenues and membership fees paid is Jacobs Engineering Group. The same Jacobs Engineering Group whose joint venture subsidiary “Team Jacobs” started vanishing into thin air in December of 2010 after the AOC filed suit against another subsidiary whom they were doing business with, whom also was an unlicensed contractor.

Follow this link to the membership list. Our analysis shows that the financial revenues of this organization have been steadily rising with Mr. Willoughby at its helm well beyond the totals explained by membership fees. Other fees are imposed and collected for various events, such as vendor shows, educational opportunities presented by affiliates and the like. Because we can’t see much beyond the filings, we can’t discern whom was paid all of the money represented by their expenses beyond the first tier recipient, nor can we discern the primary financial sponsors of this other activity. It suffices to say that this tiny little non-profit’s financials dwarfs the Center For Judicial Excellence that posts here by leaps and bounds.

So the question must be asked: Is this a mutual benefit organization when non-participating contractors are crying foul and indicate that Mr. Willoughby’s organization smacks of pay-to-play or at minimum, pay for access to the decisionmaker?

We’re not a firm believer in coincidences when it comes to the AOC and their operations.

The very appearance of impropriety when managing a 6.5 billion dollar construction budget and being the principal decisionmaker should have been enough to encourage Mr. Willoughby to withdraw from the organization. Surely, the Administrative Office of the Courts has better things to do with their money than pay Mr. Willoughby’s non-profit $1,900.00 per year to be a member.

Mr. Willoughby continues to run his little non-profit with ever increasing revenues while in control of a 6.5 billion dollar court construction budget . This activity has all the appearances of looking like improper activity for a government official to be engaged in when one considers all factors from the construction industry perspective.

To encourage Mr. Willoughby continued success as Chairman of Western Council of Counstruction Consumers and because it appears that questionable, if not outright improper relationships exist between AOC vendors and the main decisionmaker in charge of 6.5 billion in court construction funds, we call on Mr. Willoughby to resign or retire and enjoy running his little non-profit and welcome him as the newest member of Digital Purgatory.