Thursday, October 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

State office building racks up millions in repairs

By
From page A4 | July 07, 2014 |

Nightmare Building

In this Wednesday, July 2, 2014, photo, scaffolding covers the sidewalk around the State Board of Equalization building in Sacramento, Calif. The building, which houses the headquarters of the state agency that administers taxes and fees, has been plagued with problems including panes of glass popping out and crashing to the sidewalk, elevators stalling and corroding pipes damaging the buildings's water system, since it was opened in 1993. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO — During her final years working for the state tax board, Peggy Robinson went to work afraid of the building mold that she says left her with constant coughing, headaches and skin rashes.

She also recalls water problems culminating in burst pipes flooding floors and forcing employees to relocate. And that’s not to mention the near-daily annoyances for nearly 2,000 workers at the Board of Equalization headquarters, where Robinson worked from its 1993 opening until her retirement two years ago.

A malfunctioning heating system forced workers to wear jackets at their desks. Water dripped onto their desks. Elevators stalled mid-flight.

Some of the building’s persistent problems even pose a danger to the public. Outside the 24-story office building about five blocks from the state Capitol, scaffolding protects pedestrians from glass panes that have popped out and shattered on the sidewalk.

“It was definitely not conducive to getting your work done on time,” Robinson said of being an employee inside the Board of Equalization building. “They made a choice: It was either having to keep paying for the building or let the employees suffer. I believe they let the employees suffer.”

With repair bills mounting, the state Legislature is now considering how to resolve the long-festering problem and get the employees into a healthier office environment.

State taxpayers so far have shelled out about $60 million for building repairs and $2.3 million to pay workers’ compensation claims and settle lawsuits from fed-up workers.

AB1656 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, requires that the state find a new building to house the agency, which collects about $50 billion in tax revenue each year.

“Any other landlord would be categorized as a slum lord and forced to fix this problem,” said Jerome Horton, the elected chairman of the Board of Equalization.

But advocates for the move say Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has been resistant and is delaying action.

Legislative staff have estimated that planning, designing and building a new headquarters could cost up to $500 million, with an additional $300 million to $400 million in interest payments.

AB1656 would give the Department of General Services, which oversees state government buildings, the authorization to move the tax agency but does not guarantee future funding to do so.

Dickinson and Board of Equalization officials say the governor’s office would rather wait until a larger assessment of Sacramento-area government buildings finishes before deciding what to do with a single site. That review could take up to five years.

Jim Evans, a spokesman for the governor, referred questions to the Department of General Services, which says officials are not indifferent to the concerns but face hurdles. For one, the state still owes $77 million to pay off the high-rise, and terms of the bond require the building to be occupied.

The state settled a lawsuit against the building’s contractor in 2000, but the statute of limitations for suing over defects ran out more than a decade ago. Meanwhile, the repair costs keep mounting and legal challenges keep coming.

“What they’ve done is periodically plug the leaks to the dam instead of rebuilding the dam,” said Anthony Perez, an attorney who filed a lawsuit over the mold issue on behalf of 31 employees in 2008, with the state eventually settling it.

Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the Department of General Services, says employees are not exposed to mold and would be evacuated if that was the case.

“It’s probably the most tested building in all of the state for air quality,” he said.

Perez disputes that and filed a $50 million claim last week, alleging that workers continue to fall ill from mold despite false assurances from management. The agency declined to comment on the claim filed on Wednesday.

At a recent meeting with Board of Equalization employees about AB1656, Dickinson acknowledged it would take another five years for relocation even under the best case scenario. Frowns and sighs spread through the audience of more than 70 employees.

While they wait, the problems persist.

One employee recently found brown water oozing from around a toilet seat cover dispenser as corroding pipes compromise the wastewater system. A state worker has been walking up and down the building checking for smoke because the fire-control system is broken.

Board of Equalization officials say the constant problems damage morale and undermine productivity.

“It’s like someone running through the room screaming,” said Liz Houser, the deputy director of administration tasked with handling building problems.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Vacaville man earns Carnegie heroism medal

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Head-on crash sends 2 to trauma centers

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Mundy fifth-graders share their thoughts

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Veterans meet set in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Solano Tea Party Patriots meet next week

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Bevy of vintage warbirds expected at Nut Tree air show

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit hosts grand opening

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

 
Weather for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

FBI turns animal cruelty into top-tier felony

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
California Catholics challenge abortion order

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

San Francisco expands free public Wi-Fi access

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Judge: Stockton must treat pension like other debt

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Liberia short on ambulances for Ebola patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Wife of slain Los Angeles-area mayor released

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ebola patient told hospital he was from Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Caltrans: Bay Bridge tower rods exposed to water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Secret Service chief quits due to security lapses

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
2 children in Los Angeles County have enterovirus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Palestinians: Israeli occupation must end in 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Infant’s body found in California trash facility

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mexico’s probe of army slayings raises doubts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
John Wayne’s heirs lose ‘Duke’ legal brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Hong Kong protesters threaten to occupy buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Man convicted of murder in killing over loud music

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

3 Afghan soldiers who fled say they can’t go home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Poll: Divided voters still focus on economy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Respiratory virus seen in 4 deaths; role unclear

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
920 California chickens killed with golf club

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

App teaches kindergartners basic computer coding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
2 white Ohio women sue over sperm from black donor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

It’s time to teach history

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

 
Read this column ASAP or immediately

By Reg Henry | From Page: A11

Real reasons neighborhoods are in trouble

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoon: Oct. 2, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Crazy? Violent? Lose your guns

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 2, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 2, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Our son’s suicide has made us feel like outcasts in our community

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Lena Dunham launches tour for book of adult essays

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Interstellar’ to be released 2 days early on film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Steinem: Domestic violence discussion a positive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Orange is the New Black’ author talks Season 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Joy Behar to debut a 1-woman show in New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tony Bennett sets mark as oldest act with No. 1 LP

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

College notebook: Former Falcon Williams tearing it up as Torero

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bumgarner, Giants silence Pirates 8-0 to advance

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s part ways a day after 12-inning loss to Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
49ers prepare for familiar face in Chiefs Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Raiders leave for bye after meeting with new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JC volleyball: Solano wins twice in Falcons Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

JC women’s soccer: Sjoberg nets 2 goals as Solano ties Chabot

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Prep water polo: Rodriguez boys swim to 11-1 win over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Prep girls tennis: Stybnarova earns victory at No. 1 singles

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
 
Prep cross country: Armijo rolls to sweep at MEL center meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Drivers fear next round of NASCAR’s Chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Wambach, players file lawsuit over World Cup turf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Oslo latest city to drop out of 2022 Olympic race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Cardinals re-sign Fairfield High graduate Bishop

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

LeBron warmly welcomed ‘home’ by Cleveland fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Trout makes playoff debut when Angels host Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Tigers hope starters can outdo Orioles bullpen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

This date in sports history for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

Stocks start October with a drop

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
GM looks to new vehicles, China to boost profit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

5 reasons bonds may be less safe than you think

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Why the bond market is more fragile than you think

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

John ‘Bo’ M. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Laura M. Gerdes-Lemmons

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9