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Ms Sparky’s one thousandth (1000th) blog post

Oh my! 1000 published blog posts! Who would have figured after 30 months of investigative blogging I would still be at it. 1000 published posts is a huge accomplishment for any blogger. I’m very proud of this milestone!

One would think I would have run out of things to write about regarding Defense contracting fraud and Pentagon incompetence, but it just keeps spewing forth. It’s like the Defense Departments very own “Old Faithful” geyser of crap! It just keeps blowing! I have to thank companies like Fluor, Dyncorp, CSA, SBH, Blackwater, ArmorGroup, Agility and mostly….(tearing up) KBR for making stupid management decisions that always give me something to write about. I will be forever grateful (sniff sniff).

I couldn’t have met this milestone without the support of my friends and family, my regular readers, guest writers, other collaborating bloggers, published authors, investigative reporters, super sleuths, whistle blowers, attorneys, concerned citizens, former and current defense contractor employees, widows, spouses, parents and most importantly……… Read the remainder of this entry »

Thou shalt not lie! Someone needs to tell the Pentagon!

Anatomy of a Pentagon Lie

Kelley B. Vlahos – November 1, 2010 – Antiwar.com

It shouldn’t startle anyone to find that the Pentagon has blatantly ignored a congressional mandate to start reducing its use of burn pits at U.S. bases overseas.

It was only a year ago that Pentagon officials openly doubted that the black hellfire released from tons of burning hazardous waste in the open air could possibly have any long-term health effects on anyone unlucky enough to be breathing it in everyday.

“When we look at respiratory effects on a population-wide basis,” said Dr. Craig Postlewaite, director of DoD’s force readiness and health assurance, in an interview last September, “we’re not seeing a cause for concern.” The DoD’s official view has so far not changed. So, even as more and more service members come home sick – some of them irreparably, terminally – it would seem the Department of Defense has gone into classic default mode: stall until it becomes impossible to stall any longer.

That may buy the DoD ten years at least, and by then it’ll be the Veterans Administration’s problem.

The DoD Shuffle.

“They hold with the lie until they are caught so red handed they just can’t lie about it any longer,” says Deb Crawford, who spent time as a civilian electrician in the Green Zone from 2004 to 2006. She now publishes Ms. Sparky.com, a popular watchdog site, and recently spoke with Antiwar.com. “If anyone in the Pentagon were to claim they didn’t think the burn pits were an inherent health hazard to civilians and troops, I would have to call them a bold face liar.” Read the remainder of this entry »

Ms Sparky gets duped by a contractor

This is an exterior photo of our 28'x40' shop. It still needs painted to match the house.

As most of you know I try to refrain from posting personal stuff on MsSparky.com. Occasionally my grandson does something that has me beaming with pride and I just can’t resist sharing it. Today I make another exception.

My husband and I have been planning and saving to build a new shop/garage on our property. We did not want to finance it we wanted to pay cash. This is not a pole barn. This is a nice building, it’s 28′ x 40′, has 2″x6″ exterior walls, 10′ ceilings plus attic storage and designed to match the house. We even moved our septic drain field so we could put the shop exactly where we wanted it. That cost us.

One would think that my daily dealings with unethical and corrupt defense contractors I would have a heightened ability to detected and ward off contractor issues. Apparently not! I thought I had done the appropriate amount of due diligence when checking out contractors. This contractor came highly recommended and was licensed and bonded in the State of Washington. After the designing and permitting phase, work finally started mid April 2010.

I am an electrician not a carpenter, but I have an eye for “square, plum and level”. The carpentry work was great, no issues. Anyone who knows me is aware, if I had any issues, the contractor would know about it immediately.

Because we were building during the rainy season the contractor opted to pour the 28’x40′ slab after the building walls were up and the roof was completed. I didn’t see a problem with that.

Working feverishly to get that slab poured.

The day game to pour the slab…woo hoo! It was a chaotic but exciting time for me. The pouring of the slab meant we were almost done with the exterior and I could focus on the interior. There were two concrete trucks, a pumper truck and numerous vehicles parked down our country road. There were 6 people working the slab, 2 working the pumper truck and two concrete truck drivers.

At this point it appears all was well and ALL 15 yards of concrete were poured. The trucks left and it was like the calm after the storm. The cement finishers went to work. They worked for hours “floating” the floor. I had told the finishers I was intending to painting the floor so I didn’t want a glass smooth finish. I needed something for the paint or other finish to adhere to. We has specifically discussed something between a “broom finish” and “smooth as glass”. What I eventually got was nothing close to either.

I checked on the finishers periodically and they claimed all was good. When I could see they were about done I mentioned a very rough spot about 8 feet in and Tim the lead finisher patted me on the shoulder and said “Don’t you worry about that, that’s just an optical illusion. It’ll all be gone in the morning.” I know nothing about concrete work and took him at his word. Tim told me not to walk on the slab for three days and informed me it wouldn’t be totally cured for almost 30 days.

The next morning I went out to look at my new slab.  OMG!! The “optical illusion” was still there and in the daylight I could see other “optical illusions” as well. Some of the trowel marks are so bad they are tripping hazards. It looked as though my 7 year old grandson had finished the floor with a Mega Blocks! (click HERE for floor pics) Now I am getting very very concerned. The carpenters show up to work and I told them I didn’t want them walking on the floor for three days. I show them the floor, they agree it looks pretty bad and I sent them home. I contacted the contractor and expressed my concern about the finish. Keep in mind, I haven’t been able to closely inspect the entire floor as of yet because I was told not to walk on it.

The contractor stated he would make good on refinishing the floor but never did, so I fired him and contacted other concrete contractors to come out and bid on refinishing the surface. That’s when I am informed we had a MUCH MUCH BIGGER problem with the slab. The slab does not slope correctly. According to code it is required to slope out towards the garage doors  and this one does not. I actually found out first hand when a rain storm hit and water was flowing in under the door and puddling inside the garage.

In order to better determine what was truly going on with the floor, I divided it up into an approx 6’x6′ grid and used the intersecting lines of the grid as reference points (RP) for measurements. I hired a contractor with a laser transit to come out and measure the height of each reference point. I gave that data to my very smart husband and said “Here honey turn this data into a visual depiction of our concrete slab.” And as any very smart husband would do, he said “Yes, dear as you wish!”

He used 3-D graphical analysis software (don’t ask me anything about that) and input the data I gave him. He also input data of what the slab should look like using the industry standard of a 1/8″ per linear foot slope from the back to the front of the shop. (Note: It is difficult for the naked eye to discern measurements as slight as these, so the “Z” or vertical axis on both graphs have been adjusted to better illustrate the elevation changes)

This is what our garage floor should look like with the darkest red being the lowest point where the garage doors are and the lightest red being the highest point in the back of the shop where two storage rooms are.

This is what our garage floor actually looks like. With the dark red being the lowest points and the light red being the highest. You can see the highest point is near the center of the floor and slopes in all directions. Also, the lowest point RP31 in the front is where the water puddles when it flows in under the garage door. Note how the water will flow back towards RP01 into my two storage rooms

I have had several concrete contractors come out to see if there is any viable repair other than ripping out the slab and starting over. Everyone one of them stated there is no repair for this FUBAR’d floor. So the cost to rip out and replace the defective slab is an additional $8000. OMG!!!

The contractor is refusing to warranty his work as per the contract and now I have to sue him in Washington Superior Court just to get to his bond. Even with that there is no guarantee the bond company will pay. They are nothing more than an insurance company and we know how they operate. We are completely held up on finishing the interior until this floor issue us resolved.

I am asking all my REALLY REALLY REALLY smart readers for their opinion on this one. Any legal advice and or repair/replacement advice on this would be appreciated. This is going to be costly and I want to make sure I have thought it through thoroughly.

I am refraining from publishing the name of the contracting company at this time in an effort to make sure he doesn’t acquire any new “corporate” allies or financial benefactors in this fight. He is already claiming to have dissolved his LLC in an effort to not pay for this screw up.

If some of you have been wondering what has me a little distracted from MsSparky.com…….this is it!

Ms Sparky

‘Badass bloggers,’ the defense rests, dubious contract awards & ‘spooks panic’ – the news

Ms Sparky the Superhero - fighting corrupt contractors...

Other than our very own Ms Sparky being recognized for her tireless efforts in print, on the airwaves and by fellow bloggers; here are some of the other events that made the news.  The David H. Brooks trial is wrapping up and yet another contracting official, from Camp Arifjan, was sentenced.  The DLA is under scrutiny for awarding a contract across the pond, instead of putting Americans to work.  Here are those stories and other headlines that made the news.

DC’s spy establishment in panic mode over Washington Post expose
By Daniel Tencer – July 16, 2010 – Washington’s intelligence establishment appears to be in panic mode over an upcoming Washington Post series about runaway growth in defense and intelligence spending.

A State Department email has accused the Post of planning to make public “top secret” information about defense and intelligence contractors working for the US, despite an admission in the same email that the Post’s information came from “open sources.”

The series, by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dana Priest, will include a TV partnership with PBS’s Frontline and is expected to consist of three articles and an online database of military and intelligence contractors and their projects.

It’s that database of contractors that seems to be worrying Washington the most. Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy reports that the State Department sent out an email Thursday warning all 14,574 Washington-area employees of the upcoming reports. (Click HERE for article)

Speak No Evil: A Post-McChrystal Press Clampdown
By Tim Arango – July 16, 2010 – BAGHDAD – On Tuesday night at an air base in Baghdad a unit of soldiers from the Second Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division waited for a flight that would take them first to Anbar Province, then to Germany, then to Fort Drum in upstate New York. The soldiers were going home, this time for good.

Reporters were invited to visit, to speak to soldiers and take pictures of packed rucksacks and troops boarding the plane, images that would convey the military’s message that the United States is leaving Iraq. The press was told that the waiting area was theirs to work in.

So I started to chat up soldiers. Just as I had finished the formalities of name, age, rank and hometown with a young private from Michigan, I was interrupted by an officer who explained that a handful of soldiers had been chosen to speak to the press, and that the remainder of the group was off limits.

He pointed to a group of four or five soldiers, who awaited media interviews.

The Pentagon’s new dictum to control news coverage, issued in the wake of the controversy over a Rolling Stone article that resulted in the dismissal of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, seems to have reached the lower levels of the chain of command in Iraq. (Click HERE for article)

OPB – Think Out Loud on KBR and Qarmat Ali

Think Out Loud on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) aired a great show today on the lawsuit surrounding the Oregon National Guard victims of the Qarmat Ali chemical exposure. It also covered this newly revealed indemnity clause in KBR’s Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) contract. That’s right, KBR claims the DoD has absolved them of all financial responsibility if they were to kill or injure a soldier or civilian on the RIO project. If KBR loses the suit, the taxpayers foot the bill!!!

The show is hosted by Emily Harris and Dave Miller. Today’s guests were:

Larry Roberta – Oregon National Guard Veteran and Qarmat Ali victim (prerecorded conversation)

Julie Sullivan – Oregonian reporter who has been the lead journalist covering the Oregon National Guard trial.

Mike Doyle – Houston attorney representing all the National Guard Troops in the Qarmat Ali suits against KBR

Alan Chvotkin – Executive Vice President & Counsel for Professional Services Counsel – a trade organization of which KBR is a member.

Debbie Crawford aka Ms Sparky

The show is very informative and gave different points of view of the Qarmat Ali and contractor issues. I know you may find it hard to believe but Ms Sparky is not the ONLY one with an opinion on this!! The show is about an hour long and you can listen to it from the Think Out Loud page. Just click the arrow under “POSTED BY: ALLISON FROST”. (I am just trying to convince  myself I was not the only one who couldn’t find the play button!) You can also download it from their site and listen to it later or if you can’t get to their site for some reason you can listen to it HERE . I use Real Player.

My personal thanks to Allison and Rebecca for making this relatively painless!

Ms Sparky