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Consultant denies safety recommendations were changed under pressure from the city

Consultant denies safety recommendations were changed under pressure from the city

Testimony at the Red Hill Inquiry zeroed in on the relationship between consultants and the city staff who hire them.  Tuesday’s, testimony went to the heart of the issue of how much a consultant’s expert recommendations can be shaped or manipulated by pressure from the client. Brian Malone, whose company CIMA had been hired to conduct a safety report on the Red Hill Expressway, testified that he had never seen the Environmental assessment (EA) document that was the basis for allowing the highway to be constructed. The CIMA report on Red Hill safety had been directed by council members who were getting pressure from the public and the media about the number of accidents that were taking place on the Red Hill.  It was that EA that Red Hill Construction Manager Gary Moore had cited as the reason the highway could not be illuminated.  Malone said he accepted as fact that the EA had prohibited installation of lighting.

Documents presented showed that before the consultant was told that lighting was impossible CIMA had produced an early draft document suggesting that lighting  the highway be considered. Malone acknowledged that it was removed only after Moore had told Malone about the EA situation.

City documents presented to Mr. Malone show city staff, looking at a draft of the CIMA Red Hill safety report, were concerned that if illumination was not being recommended, there would be possible pushback from council as illumination was “the first request in the Council request to review.”

On October 13, 2013, according to inquiry documents, Brian Appleby of CIMA communicated with Stephen Cooper of the city stating that he had “changed the wording in all of the involved tables (executive summary, findings and summary at end as well as the text in the body.” The document was subsequently shown to Gary Moore who wanted more changes. His feedback was relayed to city staff who were dealing directly with the consultant…”I’ve reviewed with Gary, he’s good, but suggests we manage the final version of the report to reflect what we are saying. He said its not uncommon to get an FOI (Freedom of Information request) to this type of thing. I’m not asking to change opinions, but to soften…Please sit down with CIMA and make this happen (our emphasis) Please ensure you manage this directly.”

When questioned about the memo, Mr., Malone suggested the changes only related to the timing of some of the recommendations CIMA was making. He said it was not unusual for a client to question aspect of a consultant report but said he would never “soften” a report’s recommendations although he later acknowledged that there was some discussion about the lighting issue, and lighting recommendations were not made in the final report, only an explanation of why they were not included. Instead, the final report recommended measures such as installing reflective cats eyes, ‘slippery when wet’ signage and friction testing.

Once again the issue of Moore’s management style came to the fore with the release of a 2015 email from a City Traffic Manager, Martin White advising that his department had hired CIMA to conduct an investigation of crashes on the LINC. White wrote: “He’s (Moore) going to react when he finds out. Traffic shouldn’t have to put up with his reaction when he finds out. Malone (CIMA) even told me he is charging a bit extra due to Gary. He wants to be sure his recommendations are totally defensible. He asked me what he should do when Gary calls him. I told CIMA to do the best analysis they can and give us the best technical options and not worry about what Gary says to them.” He added, “this is a consistent problem we face routinely with that section and related works.”

Despite assurances by Moore’s immediate supervisor, Gerry Davis and former City Manager Chris Murray that Moore’s style was blunt but not otherwise objectionable, Inquiry documents suggest that Moore had made enemies among city staff, both in his department and in other departments, and strong suggestions that some staff did not feel they would be supported if they complained to senior management, which might account for the anonymous letters criticizing Moore that have been submitted to the inquiry.

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