Southern California company overcharges for graffiti cleanup in the city of San Jose. The Investigative Unit finds hundreds of examples of exaggerated square footage, but city insists, "they do a great job."
That means they’re budgeted to clean about one and a half million square feet of graffiti each year.
Nine months into that contract, GPC says it has already exceeded that square footage. So we went through over 25,000 work orders to see exactly how your money is being spent. (All work orders can be found at the bottom of this story.)
Then we grabbed a tape measure and checked the simple, but important math.
Take two swings in a city park: how many square feet?
Folks who spoke with us guessed between one and two. They were right. We measured them: about one square foot each.
“Does it upset you that they are overcharging the city and ultimately taxpayer dollars are being wasted?” Investigative Reporter Jenna Susko asks Julie Edmonds-Mares, the Acting Director of Park, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
“Well, I disagree with you Jenna,” Edmonds-Mares responds., “you’re stating something I disagree with.”
Edmonds-Mares oversees the graffiti-abatement program for the city.
“I don’t believe GPC is overcharging the city,” she says.
And that’s after we showed her our findings.
“A swing,” Susko hands Edmonds-Mares the photo of the tagged swing, “ 40 square feet. Two swings to be rinsed off.”
“Well again, I’d have to check, double check the square feet, square footage,” Edmonds-Mares responds.
Records from the past nine months show 83-percent of the sign stickers removed are charged as being five square feet. That’s 384 stickers out of 465 total removed from the end of June through the end of March.
”All of those sign stickers are 5 square feet” Susko says.
“Well a sign is,” Edmonds-Mares begins to reply, “I’m not an expert on square footage.”