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More on the New Houston Permitting Center

More on the New Houston Permitting Center

Simply put, the new City of Houston “state-of-the-art” Permit Center will prove to be inadequate and a dangerous exposure of employees to electromagnetic field radiation!

Publicity for the so-called Houston Permitting Center is at its peak and so is the spending of tax money on the old warehouse building located at 1002 Washington Avenue. This will be the ‘Home of the Braves’ -- for those city employees scheduled to spend their entire daily working hours in this infamous location. As we posted earlier, about 1,000 city employees are scheduled to move in at end of this month.  Therein they would be packed like Sardine in very limited gross floor area space where employees and visitors will be experiencing congestion problems on every floor.

Inasmuch as we pointed out some of the follies of those city officials who purchased this warehouse for the city, we want to add the fact that they also were grossly NEGLIGENT for completely ignoring the existence of a Center Point Energy substation located just across the old warehouse.  It is imperative that an executive ORDER IS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY TO INVESTIGATE possible impact of the high tension transformers on the WAREHOUSE; that is, whether or not the  building  FREE FROM unhealthy electromagnetic field RADIATION.

The danger is that this substation with HIGH VOLTAGE electric TRANSFORMERS and ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION LINES would harm CITY WORKERS AND VISITORS by engulfing them in DAILY EXPOSURE to ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD RADIATION. Below is the contextual picture of the transformer substation and its imposing relationship to the new City Permitting Center.

 It is an eastablished fact that an electromagnetic field, or EMF, surrounds any electrically charged material.  A study at the School of Health University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published in 1995, showed that electric utility workers with the highest exposure to electromagnetic field radiation died from brain cancer at 2.5 times the rate of workers with the lowest exposure.  Pursuant to that research, the World Health Organization further stated that there is no doubt even short-term exposure to very high levels of EMFs can be harmful to health.

Therefore we wonder! What would OSHA have to say about this building and the existing transformer station? Is this converted warehouse fit for use as an office building? Do the city officials, particularly Mr. Mark Loethen, the RISING EMPEROR in the public Works and Engineering Department who recently got promoted to Deputy Director of Code Enforcement, really care for employees’ safety and convenience?

This building needs to be TESTED by experts and certified safe and free from radiation before employees move in. The city would not want to harmfully expose over one thousand workers and visitors that will be using the space on a daily basis.   Again what is the role of the Director of Public Works and Engineering when deputies take exclusive charge of very critical decisions as evidenced in this warehouse renovation project?

On the escalating cost of the project, jury is still out for more than 40 million dollars and counting! According to a reliable source, 40 million dollars is almost double the amount originally estimated and displayed on the project sign board posted on-site.  Obviously, the humongous increase in cost is due to poor construction cost estimations. Other additional costs include the lease arrangement with adjacent property owners to demolish their buildings to make room for parking. Our source has it that the City is picking up the tab for demolition and would then pay the lease on the parking lots. This is a proven evidence unwarranted cost of city officials-in-charge who lack the necessary experience in construction field and have under estimated the construction costs which led to a significant increse in  unbudgetted moneys needed to complete the construction.

It is again prudent to remind us that just few years back the city spent millions of Tax Dollars to improve the code enforcement building located at the 3300 Main Street. This building was totally remodeled with a complete facelift and sadly it is now up for sale. In addition to the 3300 Main building, the city had also spent over one million Tax Dollars to upgrade the commercial permit office currently located on the second floor of the 611 Walker Building. Furthermore, Ms Susan Mcmillian, the choice darling of the warehouse building expedition has now secured a lucrative extension of her contract, along with the project contractor, to finish work on the infamous restoration cum relocation project. The waste of Tax Dollars is at its peak. In these economic hard times, the unnecessary moving of employees does not make any sense. This is the time to save tax dollars not waste them on obviously BAD projects.

There is an ethics problem!

Recently, Houston City Councilwoman, Jolanda Jones, is accused of ethical breaches for using city services in her private law practice and could face misdemeanor charges. It is true that every elected official must abide by City rules and code of conduct. However, we wonder why the same ethics rules do not apply to officials in the various city departments who are engaged in apparent personal gain pursuits through deliberate bad decisions involving lots of tax payer dollars.  These officials are actually guilty of reckless waste of tax dollars and should be held accountable for their poor judgments.  But nobody is holding them responsible!  Shouldn’t the City of Houston consider creating an ordinance that would make reckless wasting of TAX DOLLARS a misdemeanor crime?

And there are functional problems!

Information we received about the employees moving to this renovated warehouse indicate that apart from several hundreds in code enforcement and permit-oriented groups, a group of Engineers are also up for the move. These Engineers wonder how they would fit in this equation. They tell us they don’t issue permits and the move would severely affect their ENGINEERING INTER ACTION AND COORDINATION with other engineers who are not moving to the new location. In addition, design issues require meetings that will have engineers travelling to discuss them. More time will be wasted for both parties.  According to the engineers, the move will NOT ONLY affect them but also the consulting engineers and other groups, such as planners and plan checkers, to name a few, who must check the compliance of project designs with city standards. It makes common sense practice that all engineering groups should stay at one accessible location where they can resolve design problems at face to face discussions with mutual understanding. Distance and Travel Time are negative factors where Time is Money!

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