Zu billig losbauen

To start construction on the basis of false cost estimates in which the numbers have been manipulated to be too low.

On multiple major taxpayer-funded boondoggles in Germany, politicians appear not to have been incentivized to not approve fiascos.

Swiss engineer Jürgen Lauber—the author of BauWesen/BauUnwesen, an analysis of notorious construction projects—proposed solving this problem by changing the German penal code’s “Untreue” paragraph 266 so that “breach of trust” would include building on a basis of irrational numbers.

(Tsoo   BILL ichh   LOOS bow en.)

Sündenbock

“Sins goat,” i.e. scapegoat.

08 Mar 2013: In what may be an unusual choice for a sacrificial pawn, peasant or farmer, the controversial German executive Hartmut Mehdorn was named the new manager of the struggling Berlin-Brandenburg airport construction project. At his last gig, he was C.E.O. of Germany’s second-largest airline after Lufthansa but left suddenly, though not before suing the Berlin-Brandenburg airport construction project. In his gig before that he managed Deutsche Bahn for years and years (he finally had to leave that company in 2009 after they were found to be spying on their employees). Mr. Mehdorn is considered undiplomatic by people who don’t like him and a cost cutter by those who do. He doesn’t always manage to cut costs: as Green party members like to point out, another thing Mr. Mehdorn did at Deutsche Bahn was spend a decade pushing the unpopular and also possibly impossibly expensive Stuttgart 21 underground train station expansion project.

Former Frankfurt airport C.E.O. and engineer Wilhelm Bender was supposed to take over the beleaguered Berlin airport construction project and was rumored to have negotiated a per diem of 2500 or 4000 euros, but withdrew his name on 4 Mar 2013, citing contractual disagreements and his concerns about confidentiality.

Update on 21 Oct 2013: Still not finished, the new Berlin airport’s construction costs have been adjusted upward again, now estimated at about 5 billion euros (which would actually be a downward adjustment). No deadline for finishing is apparent. Siemens recently signed a contract to deliver a control system for the new smoke removal system that included 18 months just for programming the software.

Update on 24 Oct 2013: Spiegel.de provided some context on the mutual history of Hartmut Mehdorn and Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit (S.P.D.). Years after his 2009 departure from German Rail, Spiegel wrote, Berliners still suffered from Mr. Mehdorn’s misplaced I.P.O.-preparedness austerity measures as their poorly maintained trains, tracks and other rail equipment struggle to keep running in winter weather. In 2005, Mr. Wowereit apparently forced Mr. Mehdorn to build Deutsche Bahn headquarters in the capital city instead of in Hamburg where Mr. Mehdorn would have had more control, e.g. over port shipping.

The current airport construction site’s technology manager, engineer Horst Amann, who after fighting with Mr. Mehdorn since March 2013 was transferred to head the airport’s utilities subsidiary on 01 Nov 2013, criticized Mr. Mehdorn’s plan to open the new airport in stages, starting with perhaps 10 flights a day to perhaps test things. Mr. Amann said this is purely cosmetic and would interfere with construction.

Update on 20 Feb 2014: Hartmut Mehdorn announced in a letter to employees that the planned partial start of the new Berlin airport this summer will not be feasible.

Update on 28 Feb 2014: There still aren’t PLANS for the airport. One reason this became such a colossal sinkhole is because they started building before they finished designing all the systems. Siemens said it could go ahead and start construction of replacement system/s (not sure which) if only plans were available. Hartmut Mehdorn has already had a falling-out with the new technical manager who replaced Horst Amann; she quit. Pirate Party member Martin Delius said management board chief Hartmut Mehdorn needs a technical manager he can work with, who is allowed some autonomy and who is supported by the supervisory board.

Update on 04 Mar 2014: An analysis of Hartmut Mehdorn’s first year turning the Berlin airport construction project around said, “Other people are always responsible” for the problems that occur on Mr. Mehdorn’s watch.

Update on 11 Apr 2014: The Berlin airport construction project’s supervisory board [Aufsichtsrat] met today. Hartmut Mehdorn appeared accompanied by a lawyer, who was he said there to instruct the supervisory board about the responsibilities and rights of a board such as itself. “Mehdorn feels he has been pushed around. The supervisory board felt it has been inadequately informed.” ZDF heute journal’s report on the meeting went on to mention that a top airport employee, a construction specialist, sent a 21-page letter to the supervisory board to alert them that, in his opinion,

English translation German original
“[cut off] …in the context of the stagnating progress in the BER project the mood is worsening, including within the FBB company, and would draw your attention to ongoing still-existing and even increasing deficits in company culture, characterized by resistance to advice, increasing hierarchization, resignation and criticismlessness. In internal atmospheres as well, the decision-making process appears at times to be based on gut feelings and mercurial, even for strategic questions. Bad decisions in this atmosphere are not revised but are pushed through ‘decisively’ as evidence of leadership strength. The actions taken awaken the impression that at the moment it’s being determined by operative actionism/’immediatism’ without appropriate internal coordination and expertise, as well as by uncoordinated assignment of internal tasks. This situation continues to be [cut off] by a lack of personnel consequences…” “[cut off] im Kontext des stagnierenden BER-Projektfortschritts auch innerhalb der FBB die Stimmungslage weiter verschlechtert und verweist auf weiter bestehende und sogar zunehmende Defizite in der Unternehmenskultur, gekennzeichnet durch Beratungsresistenz, verstärkte Hierarchisierung, Resignation und Kritiklosigkeit. Auch in der Innenwahrnehmung erscheint die Entscheidungsfindung zuweilen auf Bauchgefühl beruhend und sprunghaft, selbst bei strategischen Fragen, Fehlentscheidungen werden nach dieser Wahrnehmung nicht revidiert sondern als Beleg von Führungsstärke ‘entschieden’ durchgesetzt. Das Handeln erweckt den Eindruck, dass es augenscheinlich durch operativem Aktionismus / ‘Sofortismus’ ohne angemessene interne Abstimmung und Sachkunde sowie die unkoordinierte parallele Erteilung interner Aufträge bestimmt ist. Diese Situation wird durch die weiterhin fehlenden personellen Konsequenzen für die [cut off]”

Mr. Mehdorn responded to the letter by firing its author, effective immediately.

Time: Hartmut Mehdorn estimated they might have an estimate of when construction will be complete at the end of 2014 at the earliest.
Money: Hartmut Mehdorn estimated the project will need another 1.1 billion euros, for a total of 5.4 billion euros.

(ZINNED en bawk.)

Bausoll

Though this word looks like it might mean “obligation to build” it’s actually a “construction targets” document describing precisely what has to be done in a construction project, documents apparently neglected in three prestige enterprises recently gone awry in Germany: the Elbphilharmonie riverfront concert hall in Hamburg, the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport, and the expansion of the Stuttgart train station underground (“Stuttgart 21”). ZDF heute journal reported part of the systemic problem is that responsible parties include politicians, absent in 15 to 20 years when the project finishes, who absolutely want to build the shiny thing and construction firms that absolutely want to obtain the building contracts without, apparently, feeling constrained to submit realistic bids. Also, planners’ fees apparently are a percentage of the project’s ultimate cost?

(BOW zollll.)

Das bürgerliche Lager

The “burghers camp,” the “middle class position,” was being invoked in Stuttgart’s recent politics much as the “center” is in the USA. After Stuttgart’s mayoral election on 21 Oct 2012, the Green candidate had 52.9% of the vote and the “nonparty” (CDU, Merkel-supported) candidate 45.3%. The Green party is now in charge of Stuttgart for the first time, with an absolute majority (!), after 40 years of CDU mayors in various coalitions. Part of the voters’ general anger was in response to last year’s “Stuttgart 21” controversy in which the CDU insisted on going through with expansion of the main train station at the cost of parts of its historic building, trees in the castle park, public access to the castle park for ten years of construction, public land sold for development and cost overruns exceeding the originally promised price of EUR 200 million to the current estimate of EUR 4 billion and possibly even EUR 18 billion because a 2003 report found the area too unstable for an underground train station. I also wonder about the archeological losses incurred by digging next to a castle site that’s over a thousand years old.

New Oberbürgermeister Fritz Kuhn (Green Party) said, “This assumption that the burghers camp is the CDU and FDP is ~[as dead wrong as it’s possible to be wrong in a very wrong way]. We too are in the burghers camp, but with a progressed understanding of the middle classes. And today’s success is actually the success of a long-term strategy that’s been ongoing for years.”

Update on 12 Dec 2012: Stuttgart 21 is now estimated to cost 6.8 billion euros (but only if it  finishes in 2021 as planned, &c.). The head of Deutsche Bahn, the German Rail operator, has now alleged that canceling the project will cost 2 billion euros. But, says Spiegel-Online, he has also said for some time that Stuttgart 21 would only be worth carrying out if its costs did not exceed 4.7 billion euros.

Update on 21 Nov 2013: An expert opinion report found that ex-governor of Baden-Württemberg Stefan Mappus (C.D.U.) overpaid by ~780 million euros when he bought into private energy utility company EnBW in 2010, negotiating a shares purchase package for 4.7 billion euros. The report was commissioned by the Stuttgart prosecutors’ office.

Update on 07 Mar 2014: Stuttgart prosecutors are now investigating ex-governor Stefan Mappus for his role in the police beatdown of the Stuttgart 21 protests. They are examining whether Mr. Mappus lied, while not under oath, when he told the state parliament’s investigating committee that he’d never exerted any influence on the government’s counterprotest measures, that he merely gave police moral support during visits and meetings. Top police officials and their documents have now indicated that the governor made “rigid instructions” during the protests, including telling police to use water cannons. ~130 demonstrators and ~30 police officers were injured during the events that ensued on 30 Sep 2010. Mr. Mappus’s hands-off claim was supported by the head of police at the time, Siegfried Stumpf, who said he alone bore responsibility for the decisions and their consequences. Now other top officials have said Mr. Mappus told police, “Bring the bulldozers in. If you won’t do it, I’ll get police from another state.” Mr. Mappus denies this and has filed a lawsuit for defamation [üble Nachrede].

Update on 05 Aug 2014: The castle park is gone. Digging started on the huge Stuttgart 21 underground train station even though experts say a canal running through the site will cause problems. Deutsche Bahn will have to pump out groundwater but only has a partial permit to do so. Also, Deutsche Bahn still doesn’t have an approved fire protection concept. The latter issue ended up costing the Berlin-Brandenburg airport years and billions of euros, with still no solution in sight.

ZDF heute journal reported that a new fire safety concept had to be developed for the underground train station after requirements were set higher in 2010 and after a stress test showed more passengers would be using the facility than the planners had calculated. Now what looks like fire escape stairs will be built, three on each platform. One problem there is that there will be only 2.05 meters of space on either side of these sets of stairs, bottlenecking masses of rail passengers. The founder of a “Wikireal” fact-checking portal told ZDF that Deutsche Bahn has said two meters isn’t enough space even in small train stations. Deutsche Bahn’s Stuttgart 21 spokesman said there were no bottlenecks in the planned train station.

The new fire safety concept was supposed to be approved in June 2014 but the authorities had questions, said Deutsche Bahn’s Stuttgart 21 spokesperson.

(Doss   BERR gur lichh eh   LOG er.)

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