Sunday, June 20, 2010


Last week I did a story on what I consider to be retaliatory behavior by Metro Government in regards to a case involving Eric Garrett and his use of the Metro Tipline to report problems within Facilities Maintenance, in what seems to be a running battle with Department heads Ted Pullen and Betty Younis. Louisville News and Politics: METRO TIPLINE LEADS TO UNEMPLOYMENT WHEN USED

Since then much has been uncovered in my ongoing investigation of this agency. Primarily at first glance it appears Ms. Younis has no control over the Department nor does she have any applicable training or knowledge of the equipment she is charged with overseeing. Additionally, she seems to be in the habit of falsifying claims against Mr. Garrett, in the latest case using a subordinate with a history of conflict with co-workers. In what looks like a setup and despite having the only witness to events testifying squarely on his side, Garrett gets an indefinite suspension and railroaded into a psychiatric exam or loses his job.

Confused yet? I hope not because it gets better.

Things like the Old Jail Building seems to be at the root of this problem. When you start talking to people who work Downtown stories about HVAC problems, the basis for Garrett's Tipline complaint, come easily to the surface. The Old Jail building gets special mention because it's the one building Mayor Abramson put up on the Federal list as a Metro building with an Energy Star rating, and then trotted off to Washington to get his award. But the problem might be that the building doesn’t deserve to be on that list, and it’s a joke to a lot of people who work in it every day.

How could that be?

Part of the problem is that routine maintenance just hasn’t been done in many of the buildings downtown, which is one of the most important things you need to do to earn your Energy Star credentials. In the Old Jail for example, lots of other problems make it a poor choice to brag about. In order to not get too complicated let me ask this.

If you bought a brand new central air unit for your home, but your thermostat didn’t work or your kids left the windows open, would buying that new AC unit make your home "energy efficient?" The obvious answer is no and yet they did something like that at the Old Jail.

They bought a new chiller and cooling tower to replace the old, neglected equipment for Energy Star purposes, but they did it ass backwards. They chose NOT to follow the guidelines and bought the system before a lot of other things had been done to reduce the heat load on the building, so that they could be sure to buy the right size equipment. They brag about outside air dampers, but fail to mention that they haven’t worked in years.

Energy Star guidelines say this is an "obvious" problem if your goal is to make the system efficient, not to mention that it prevents the folks in the building from getting enough fresh air (another Energy Star requirement).

Throughout the building, you’ll find problems like broken thermostats, dirty coils, broken valves and disconnected equipment, along with a long history of complaints from the building’s occupants. Supervisors at ground level have made enough requests for the authorization to have these problems fixed, so the responsibility lies with the same people who now claim it’s the best the City has to offer.

So just how does one get "Energy Star" certified? According to the disclaimer at the bottom of the link above:

"Narrative information in this profile has been provided by Louisville Metro Facilities Management or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application."

How does a building with all these problems get verified?

When you start looking at the connections there might be more to answer for than just misrepresenting the Old Jail as having an efficient HVAC system (we haven’t even looked at the boilers); there might be questions about how claims of Energy Star compliance are being used to leverage ARRA Federal stimulus money, and if it’s as bad as it sounds, the whole "Go Green" reputation of this administration might wind up looking like a house of cards. We will see…..

I’m hearing all kinds of rumbling about how things have been managed by Facilities over at Metrosafe, too, where the City just dropped about $12 million to upgrade a building we all depend on for emergency response. From what I have been told by sources Garrett apparently had to virtually drag Younis, kicking and barking like a rabid dog, to just get the filters changed on brand new equipment that had been in alarm for months.

That, I am told, is the incident that Councilman Heiner was inadvertently referring to when he mentioned filters being so dirty they were pulled through their frames. They finally were changed, I am told right after Garrett's complaint to the Ethics Tipline was made.

A complaint that led to a retaliatory indefinite suspension without pay I might add.

For the same reason, they might be running around now trying to get a lot of stuff done. I could go on and on and assuredly I will as this investigation continues but for now ask yourself a question?

Why in the world do we allow people with no education or experience to head Departments that require such?

There is more to come I assure you............

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Ed Springston


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