FieldTurf USA accomplished the seemingly impossible in recent years.
The artificial turf company managed to convince several public school districts to give all their turf jobs to FieldTurf, claiming they offered a superior product and warranty — all while grappling with a defective product installed at as many as 3,000 schools.
Grass blades quickly faded, laid flat or tore out entirely, causing shedding and bald spots. In some cases, the fields raised safety concerns and caused dilemmas for districts that sometimes ended with them shelling out more public money to FieldTurf.
Districts that saw their fields fall apart while still under warranty were pushed to “upgrade” their turf for $25,000 to $300,000 more, or risk it with a free replacement field that used the same turf that failed.
Yet it’s FieldTurf’s quality, warranty terms and a desire for district uniformity that public officials claimed allowed them to skip a competitive bidding process normally required by state law for public works projects and use only FieldTurf products.
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1. Products sometimes fail.2. Warranties are honored to fulfill the original committed timeframe. If the warranty calls for eight years and it only lasts five and you get a new field that lasts five more, you're two years ahead of the game. (Just like my water pump going out at 70k miles and being replaced with one that makes it to 140k. On my 100k warranty, I'm good with that!)
3. Upgrades are offered as an option. Nothing wrong with that as long as it's an option that can be rejected and the original warranty is being honored--which they have been!
4. If your goal is a "product recall" the issue is with the manufacturer, not the distributor/manufacturer's rep (FieldTurf) who approached/sued the manufacturer for support for themselves and their customers.
5. You haven't made a strong case for a product recall. Injuries have been hinted at by the author, but no facts or figures on injury rates have been presented. If there is a safety factor involved, that's one thing. But if it's cosmetic (fading, normal wear and tear), that is NOT a cause for EVERYBODY to get a new field carte blanche. Get real!
6. You're slamming the FieldTurf rep for doing his job: i.e., differentiating his product and selling the value of his product so well that the customer specifies his specs until the competition matches it. This sounds like the whining of the company/rep who just got out-worked and out-hustled by a better salesperson. Calling him out by name is completely uncalled for, especially when you leave those who wrote the bid (public employees) anonymous.
7. The only hint of "investigative journalism" I detected was you reference to the e-mail implying a possible offer of a kick-back. This was the only thing I felt could have been egregious about this whole matter and I thought it could've and should've been reported on more thoroughly (Who followed up on it and how? What ramifications occurred? Why or why not? Did a publicly paid employee let this slide? Is there any other evidence of possible bribes or kickbacks? This, I think, was the REAL story that would have justified such a lengthy series of articles.).
Ok - enough already, I've got it, we know they done bad, the horse is dead, you don't need to beat the drum any longer.
So now what? You hint at near-certain negligence by what appears a large number of district staff & elected officials in selecting inferior products on no-bid contracts, or RFPs that only one supplier could meet. But the issue is county wide - a single procurement office could go off the rails but that won't create a county-wide situation. The fact that so many districts all went in the same direction hints at something of a much broader and more serious conspiracy.
How about some insightful reporting on the root cause of this situation? Possible civil and criminal outcomes? Could this be a local instance of the "Fat Leonard scandal" that surfaced in the Navy recently?
@mwkingsandiego You're so loveably naive. :-)
It's San Diego. None of the wrong doers will be punished. The DA is too busy persecuting pot heads, and the City Attorney only goes after his political rivals. These are members of the establishment, and it's only kids and taxpayers who got damaged...so nobody important.
All involved will be promoted, and the journalist will be run out of town.
Business as usual...move along, nothing to see here.
@mwkingsandiego You're assuming that there is a deeper root cause other than sheer negligence, laziness, and stupidity. Not every bad decision has sinister underpinnings. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that some kind of kick back action has occurred, but reporting based on loose suspicion instead of verifiable facts is what the national enquirer does.
Thank you Ms. McGlone and VOSD for once again providing the type of journalism and truth in a time so rife with misinformation, greed and propagandist advertising.
That yet another contractor hired to provide a public service has bilked the tax payer should be no surprise. These companies are not in business to provide a service to the public but to instead acquire lucrative government contracts and the dollars that go with them. To be fair, there are those that do provide a quality service and are not a odious as FieldTurf but with less and less oversight from government this sort of corruption easily spreads
Your series is why I read and am a member of VOSD..
I'm guessing Field Turf hasn't "made" $33 million, they've grossed $33 million. Let's hope that's the only glaring error in this report.
Instead of protecting taxpayers and students, it appears group thinking go-along to get-along time servers betrayed their fiduciary and moral responsibilities.
Who will be fired? (*crickets)
Again, this isn't surprising. Sports and corruption go hand in hand.
Let's get sports out of the schools. Time to focus on education. The future of our children, and the nation, depends on all of us turning away from the out of date idea that sports based entertainment and education are the same thing.
@Bill Bradshaw @Fred Williams Added note: "....sports and corruption go hand in hand."
How many SDSU athletic scandals in the last two decades? I've lost count.
Spanos ripping off taxpayers? Not even news anymore, just how that clan does "business".
And the biggest crook in San Diego history, John Moores, who used the Padres as a cover to bilk San Diego out of hundreds of millions.
I'm proud that San Diego finally said "enough is enough" by voting against the idiotic proposal to build yet another publicly funded stadium for private profit. But I'm confident the oligarchs who have a strangle on San Diego will find a way to give the football boosters what they want. Vigilance is required to prevent them from robbing the city blind, but will the majority of news outlets breathe a word about how bad these deals are? Not so long as they have sports columnists, sports broadcasters, and cozy advertising deals with those same teams.
@Fred Williams I agree with your first two paragraphs, Fred, but #3/4 bother me. Without sports, would you also eliminate P E? Athletic competition, within reason, is a very healthy lesson in life, which students will discover soon enough is just full of competition.
What I think this fiasco demonstrates is that "groupthink' is rampant throughout the public sector because most of the people there are not used to challenge and it's so much safer to "go along". Independent thinking is seldom rewarded, which is a good explanation of how many of the cities and counties in California got in big trouble with pension costs. They couldn't afford the big increases, but since "everyone else was doing it", they'd find a way to come up with the cash. Most didn't so public services suffered.
I would hope that Ashley's excellent reporting would shake up the system, but as an octogenarian who has lived my entire life in the Golden State, I know better.
Final note: "....out of date idea that sports based entertainment and education are the same thing"
History buffs know that the idea of tacking sports onto the educational system originated in Germany, and reached its apogee under the fascists. America foolishly copied this model. Germany stopped it, recognizing the danger after their defeat in WWII. America continues until this day.
Physical activity is extremely important. I couldn't agree more.
But there is absolutely no reason it has to take the form of violent contact sports. Nor does it require expensive specially built artificial fields.
How about dance? Great exercise. Running, jumping, or just sustained walking will keep you fit. When an activity is encouraged for all students, it can be part of school activities, especially in the K-8 years.
But what do we have today? Competitive sports teams, like football, which only a small minority of students participate in, do little for the state of physical fitness. Instead, the rest of the students are berated into being "fans" and passively observing, or "rooting for the team". Herded into pep rallies, missing class to do so, they must cheer those very students who are too often the bullies of the campus.
And what attention do other students receive? When's the last time you heard of how a debate team does (how many schools even have a debate team nowadays)? The papers coverage of the schools seems to be about 80% sports. So students get the message that only the jocks matter, and studying is comparatively less important.
When we then add in the serious, lifelong physical injuries caused by football and today's extreme cheer leading...it gets into the territory of criminal child abuse.
Again, if students want to play football, or learn to cage fight in the MMA, that's up to them and their parents. But there's no moral or educational justification for this to be part of the schools.
As you probably know, other countries would never dream of doing this to their young people. It's reflected in our ever dropping test scores, and ever increasing obesity rates.
Thanks for your comment.
Ms. McGlone, as a taxpayer I would like to THANK YOU and THE VOICE for your exceptional investigative journalism!!!
Informative NEWS, like this, is hard to find!!!!
Maybe this is why San Diego Unified can't afford to buy Scholastic News for elementary school children.
@SherryS Pretty clearly why some schools in SD Uni still don't have air conditioning, but do have mountains of deferred maintenance in the buildings around their magnificent fields.