is retaliation and employee manipulation, they’re saying that, if you want to do that, here’s how you do it, to avoid a catastrophe like this Green thing: Get the lawyers involved early and get the employee to admit wrongdoing at an administrative hearing. Try to sandbag him. What do you tell the other whistleblowers you talk to? I can’t offer them specific advice, but I listen to their stories and tell them what I did. That helps them, gives them sense that they’re going in the right direction. I tell them, “Don’t do it because I did it,” but because it’s right for you. My advice is don’t give up on yourself, document your case, don’t lose sight of your goal to do the right thingand keep fighting, because if you don’t, you don’t have anything to fall back on in terms of your values and sense of self-respect. I have taken a little comfort in the remarkable similarity of my case to other whistleblowers and how they have been treated: We’re all different people but we have all suffered similar retaliation, continual blacklisting. I’ve been talking to them and gaining insight in how to survive. The State turns a blind eye Have any state officials contacted you before or -since the verdict to find out what you know about abuse of state contracts or to ask advice on how to redress the abuses you uncovered? I’ve had no contact [as of mid-May] with any of the three major elected officials [Governor, Lieutenant Governor or House Speaker]. [State Reps.] Libby Linebarger and Sherry Greenberg have said to me that they feel good about their support of me in the early stages of litigation, and expressed some concern that I’ve not been able to get back into the mainstream. [State Rep.] Susan Combs has helped a lot since the trial court verdict. There has not been a legitimate investigation of discrepancies at Centimeter [the DHS storage warehouse in Austin that Green claims contains major safety hazards], Beaumont, Port Arthur [other DHS buildings]. They’re still out there being micro-managed by people trying to cover their ass. I’ve tried to tell people that these issues are still unresolved, but people in the process have not really asked for any more detail. Why do you think the state won’t listen to you? You’re just trying to save it money. The reason that my observations are not getting any attention is that they are so close to the privileges and perks that the bureaucrats hold dear. If you take a man’s right to his high-dollar office chair away from him, it affects him every minute he’s in the office. The construction policies and projects of state government are unattractive issues but necessary parts of the way government operates, an area of management discretion they don’t want anybody looking at. [The state] General Services [Commission] has known for years that the state auditor has done four or five audits of construction procedures and supervision practices that aggressively pointed out these oversight deficiencies and nothing has come of these audits. The audit reports only go to a small group of people. The common man has never been given the opportunity to see them; they’re not disseminated. They’ve got evidence in their files of some of the problems I pointed out. If some conscientious state official did seek out your advice, what sorts of things could you tell them that weren’t covered in our last story? The state of Texas has a target on its back, and every astute contractor and landlord knows that. They’re able to target leases and contracts and say, “It’s a $2 million job, all we’ve got to do to get the bid is to allocate $1 million plus for it, and if we get caught we’ll probably be able to get a change order to cover the cost overrun.” The state doesn’t have the resources to discover this low bid/change order scheme. The construction industry or development industry in Texas looks at the state as an easy mark and the reason is that, historically, we do not look at our responsibility as bureaucrats as managing hard assets. The taxpayer funds it if we fail to get contract compliance. Have any of the people who retaliated against you been disciplined? The suit didn’t name any individuals, just the agency. But court records will show that [one of Green’s main accusers] who fired me and who said at the time of trial that after months of depositions still believed I was guilty…he was promoted. The inspector general is still there, the deputy IG is still there, [former DHS chief financial officer Burt] Raiford is now commissioner, and they all had to sign off on the lawsuit. No one has been disciplined. Not one person who participated in the assault on my character has suffered one day of punishment or loss of salary. They’re looked at as good guys in the world they’re in. The abuses you pinpointed go back to the midand late 1980s, under a Republican administration in Austin. Since you were fired, we have a new governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general, and DHS chairman. As far as you can tell, has anything gotten better in state government on the issues you have been involved in? Honestly, I do not think anything is dif ferent. I’m amazed at the lack of interest or follow-up on issues that are somewhat visible. What I hope to do is continue to ask people to take responsibility to deal with the issues I’ve raised. The current state officials are now past the point where they can say it happened on someone else’s watch. Lessons from the .Ordeal What have you learned from your experience? How has it changed you? Until the verdict I was bleeding; now I’m trying to heal. I’ve bounced off the bottom and I’m trying to claw my way back up. I have lots of reasons to be vindictive in my actions, and I’m guarding against that. This adversity has given me a sense of self that was there before, in latent form maybe, but it’s been reinforced and nurtured by the realization that these people, some good, mostly bad, felt like they could run over another citizen without fear. I realize now that I need to pay attention when I see bad things happening, and stop it before it gets overwhelming. I think I let my guard down as a citizen and wasn’t vigilant. Once I decided to stand up and do the right thing, it was, “We’re going to get you.” It’s been an all-consuming experience. I’ve studied law, and the impact of law on citizens, studied case law about government in Texas and other states. As I studied these issues and worked on my case, I learned a lot abOut the human condition, about people. I recognized that government has to be watched in order for us to be safe and comfortable in our homes. I’ve learned that you can be indicted, thrown in jail, personally and professionally destroyed by a powerful entity because you’re a threat to it. It’s certainly awakened me to the fact that if you simply hope and pray that good things will happen without you paying any attention, you’re lying to yourself. I’m now certain that if you sit on the sidelines and watch life go by and don’t participate, you deserve the results you get. I am now undeniably, proudly and hopefully effectively, an activist. I’m going to devote my time and resources to get back to contributing to society. I’m going to thoroughly investigate political candidates before I vote for them. I’m going to follow them and” hold them accountable for the words they spoke. I’m not going to allow myself to participate passively in any political function. I’m going to speak up, ask for clarification, and never clap without meaning it. I know how dangerous that is now. Was it worth it? No reservations. Even as horrible and unproductive as I feel right now, I’d rather be separated out from those SOBs than be lumped in with that mentality I abhor. I’m just outraged by the performance of some of THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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