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Inside the Centimeter Warehouse in Austin ALAN POGUE In November 1989, Judge Baker wrote another stinging letter, this time to DHS Commissioner Ron Lindsey, summarizing the problems with the building. Baker said that the SPGSC inspectors were unqualified and didn’t care about the project’s outcome. Baker’s letter praised Green as “the single non-county individual that expressed a real interest and concern in the project. In every instance he attempted to see that the job was done correctly and done with pride. I could explain my concerns to him and he would always try to correct any inconsistencies. He was `requested’ off the job by the project architect, Rina Johnson, of the State Purchasing Department…. I believe that, had George Green remained on the project, we would have had a good job.” Baker went on to add that he doubted Johnson’s abilities and found that she had never been licensed as an architect. The State Board of Architectural Examiners confirms that no one by that name has ever been licensed as an architect by the state. Judge Baker, who was trained in architectural engineering and once ran a construction company in Port Arthur, told the Observer that Dunbar was the worst-managed project he’d seen in his 16 said the county and state had since hired other contractors to redo much of the original renovation and get the building into the shape it should have been in five years ago. “They just didn’t give a damn,” about spending the state’s money wisely, Baker said of the SPGSC and DHS officials and architects who managed the project. “I never saw a more pitiful bunch of folks. They’d fly over here and eat meals and party with the contractor and have the biggest time and didn’t give a damn if the job was done right,” Baker said. “George Green was the only one who was trying to get the state’s money’s worth out of that contract:” In January 1990, DHS hired a Houston roofing consultant, Karl Krause Corp., to perform an in-depth assessment of the project. Their investigation backed up Green’s findings: leakage due to improper installation, use of cheap mateponding, water damage and so on. Another company gave estimates for three levels of repairs at about $9,000, $20,000 and $36,000 depending on how long DHS wanted the building to remain watertight. Last June, they opted for spending $13,500 in repairs. Green contends the repairs were inadequate, and certainly nowhere near what had been promised by the original contractor. He maintains that the state should have forced the bonding company \(which insured the contractor’s work repairs, instead of charging the taxpayers for some of them. “On numerous occasions I suggested that we terminate the contract, and force the bonding company to finish it with a higher level of accountability,” Green said. “The performance bonds meant we had a mechanism to get the project completed…. It was irresponsible to choose to leave it to the original contractor’s discretion.” The record shows disputes over responsibility .for repairs between DHS, SPGSC, the contractor, the surety company and the county. Green says the state has paid at least $10,000 in state funds on repairs to the building since SPGSC forced DHS to take the building in December 1986, and, he says, it would take three or four times that amount to get the building in decent, usable shape. Few would deny that the Dunbar school project was a disaster. The question, at least for George Green, is to what extent DHS officials are responsible for the state not receiving what it paid for in the construction contract. Green’s memos contained in the files obtained under the Open Records Act reflect his belief that DHS was being lax in enforcing standards on the contractors. His persistent attempts to encourage DHS to take a tougher line with the contractor and SPGSC were disregarded. “I believe that because I made a conscious effort to document well the history of [the] Livingston [project], those who were shown in a bad light could not allow that project to be scrutinized … and then their performance to held out to public review,” Green said. By discrediting him, he believes, the DHS bureaucrats who actually bore some responsibility for the Dunbar debacle thought that they could protect themselves. The Centimeter Warehouse After he was ordered off the Dunbar project, Green noticed similar patterns of what he regarded as irresponsibility in construction on other projects. Each case, as he saw it, contained a common element: the state project managers would allow contractors to get away with inadequate work, or to charge the state for unnecessary work. The report of the project that Green believes contributed to his firing involved the renovation of a DHS records storage facility on Centimeter Circle in Austin. The Centimeter Warehouse was built by Trammel Crow company, which agreed to perform construction work on the facility as specified in a competitively bid contract with the state. State audit records contain a July 1987 memo from a state inspector to Burt Raiford indicating that “serious problems” existed in the records storage facility’s electrical wiring. An internal audit revealed that interior electric panels vibrated and were warm to the touch, that an emergency door didn’t work, waterproofing and fireproofing of the torage vaults were inadequate, that other lease specifications had not been complied with, and that SPGSC’s moniance efforts was inadequate. Trammel Crow said, in a 1987 letter, that it would fix some of the problems, but denied others existed. Despite promises that the company would allow the facility to meet City of Austin permit standards, Hopkins wrote SPGSC’s lease officer in charge of the project, David Carr, that permits had not been obtained by December 1987. Green found on subsequent inspection that it did not meet lease specifications, especially in vault waterproofing and insulation. In response to DHS concerns, Trammel Crow wrote in 1987 to the city apologizing for not having met Austin permit specifications and promising to obtain certificate and permits. City of Austin records show that the company finally obtained a permit in December 1990. Green contends that the Centimeter Warehouse still doesn’t meet the standards called for in the lease. He said his persistent attempts to get DHS to make the contractor comply with the lease were met with resistance. Although the 10 JULY 12, 1991