Acting on Paul’s information, the Administrative Office of the Courts last week sued the vendors for not having licenses but has not publicly addressed the alleged overcharges.
Its spokesman, Philip
Carrizosa, said Wednesday that he could not comment on Paul’s job
situation “because it’s a personnel issue.” Carrizosa was reached at
home because the Administrative Office of the Courts, along with
courthouses around the state, is closed the third Wednesday of every
month to save money.
Paul privately provided his superiors with
information on the unlicensed contractors months ago and went public
with the story of how he became a whistleblower and his frustrations
with his employer after the lawsuits were filed.
are subsidiaries of the giant Jacobs Engineering Group, whose
spokeswoman did not return telephone calls seeking comment, and a
smaller firm, Aleut Global Solutions, whose attorney declined comment.
The courts contracted with these firms to maintain hundreds of
courthouses that counties have turned over to the state as part of the
judicial system’s consolidation.
One of the lawsuits, brought by
the state attorney general’s office on behalf of the judiciary, alleges
that Aleut never had a contractor’s license despite an agreement with
the courts that specifically required it to have one. No one at the
Administrative Office of the Courts apparently ever checked. The
lawsuit seeks to void the contract and to compel Aleut to return all
fees it was paid.
A separate lawsuit against the Jacobs’
subsidiaries, Jacobs Facilities Inc. and Jacobs Property Management
Company, alleges that they had the required contractor’s license when
they began work in 2006 but let it lapse a year ago. That lawsuit also
seeks repayment of all state funds.
In going public, Paul posted extensive comments and correspondence on a legal blog that carried an article about the lawsuits.
wrote that he noticed problems three years ago when he proposed
automated controls for lighting, heating and air conditioning in
courthouses that he said would save the judiciary hundreds of millions
of dollars in utility bills annually. He said he was “floored” when
officials of the Administrative Office of the Courts’ facilities
management unit-where he has now been assigned to work on the same
subject as a consultant-shot him down.
A few months after his
proposal was rejected, he wrote, he was asked to help solve a
temperature control problem at one courthouse. But he said senior
managers in the facilities unit called him off again, assigning the
problem to Jacobs and paying it $20,000 for a study that he said was
plagiarized. He wrote that Jacobs turned in a study that was irrelevant
to the courthouse problem and was in fact “an old draft study
commissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers that was word for word
pulled off the Internet.”
He said he later learned that Jacobs
was overcharging on many projects. He made no specific overcharging
allegations against Aleut.
“It became a sad, inside joke amongst
the engineering staff I worked with that having Team Jacobs change a
light bulb not only took four people to accomplish,” he wrote, “but the
cost of changing that light bulb cost two grand-the minimum value of a
service work order from the Facilities Management Unit.”
– Ted Rohrlich