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"Latino 'EcoSlaves' Clean Up After Katrina"

From Nov. 15 came this Newsmax summary of a Der Spiegel article on illegal aliens doing rebuilding in New Orleans:

Can't see rebuilding contracts because of "national security"

Continuing our look at "Gulf Coast slaves", this time that part dealing with contract transparency:

...James Hale, a vice president of the Laborers' International Union of North America [says] "To my knowledge, not one member of Congress has been able to get their hands on a copy of a contract that was handed out to Halliburton or others... There is no central registry of Katrina contracts available. No data on the jobs or scope of the work." Hale says that his union's legislative staff has pressed members of Congress for more information; apparently the legislators were told that they could not get copies of the contracts because of "national security" concerns.
"If the contracts handed out to these primary contractors are opaque, then the contracts being let to the subcontractors are just plain invisible," Hale says. "There is simply no ability to ascertain or monitor the contractor-subcontractor relationships. This is an open invitation for exploitation, fraud and abuse."
...the dozens of KBR subcontractors that employ [the illegal aliens from the article] operate under public-private agreements like federal Task Order 0017, which defines the scope of work to be fulfilled under the contracts. Under the multimillion-dollar Department of Defense contract, KBR is supposed to provide services for "Hurricane Katrina stabilization and recovery at Naval Air Station Pascagoula, Naval Air Station Gulfport, Stennis Space Center and other Navy installations in the Southeast Region," according to a Defense Department press release.
But the details of the agreements remain murky. "Not only is it very difficult to see the actual signed DoD contracts, but it is nearly impossible to see the actual task orders, which assign the goods or services the government is buying," says Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight in Washington. The military can ask for goods and services on an as-needed basis, he says, which means that the contracts, which add up to tens of millions of dollars, can remain open ended. According to DoD press statements, the contracts call for considerable manual labor, including "re-roofing of most buildings, barracks, debris removal from the entire base, water mitigation, mold mitigation, interior and exterior repairs to most buildings, waste treatment plants, and all incidental related work."
Simitrio and any other workers on the high-security military bases must get permission before entering the guarded gates, where they get patted down by M-16-wielding military police. Responsibility for getting private-sector construction and cleanup workers on the bases rests with the general contractor -- in KBR's case, security chief Kevin Flynn. One of Flynn's responsibilities is to negotiate passes and entry for KBR subcontractors -- and their hires -- to do the work stipulated by the task order.
Yet, following several complaints by Landrieu, and just a few days after President Bush visited the Belle Chasse base, agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency raided the facility and detained 10 workers who ICE spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback said had "questionable" documentation...

Salon discovers the worker abuse that "liberals" support

The failed "liberal" venture known as Salon covers an issue discussed here for over two months: illegal aliens doing rebuilding work: "Gulf Coast slaves" Given all the bad things they discuss in their article, I have to wonder why "liberals" continue to support the situation they describe.
The only way to prevent situations like they describe is to oppose illegal immigration and support strong enforcement. Anything else is just living in a fantasy world.

...But three weeks after arriving at the naval base from Texas, Martinez's boss, Karen Tovar, a job broker from North Carolina who hired workers for a KBR subcontractor called United Disaster Relief, booted him from the base and left him homeless, hungry and without money.
...He says that Tovar "kicked us off the base," forcing him and other cleanup workers -- many of them Mexican and undocumented -- to sleep on the streets of New Orleans. According to Martinez, they were not paid for three weeks of work. An immigrant rights group recently filed complaints with the Department of Labor on behalf of Martinez and 73 other workers allegedly owed more than $56,000 by Tovar. Tovar claims that she let the workers go because she was not paid by her own bosses at United Disaster Relief. In turn, UDR manager Zachary Johnson, who declined to be interviewed for this story, told the Washington Post on Nov. 4 that his company had not been paid by KBR for two months...
...Bill Chandler, president of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, estimate that hundreds of undocumented workers are on the Gulf Coast military bases, a claim that the military and Halliburton/KBR deny -- even after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency turned up undocumented workers in a raid of the Belle Chasse facility last month. Visits to the naval bases and dozens of interviews by Salon confirm that undocumented workers are in the facilities. Still, tracing the line from unpaid undocumented workers to their multibillion-dollar employers is a daunting task. A shadowy labyrinth of contractors, subcontractors and job brokers, overseen by no single agency, have created a no man's land where nobody seems to be accountable for the hiring -- and abuse -- of these workers...
[...Davis-Bacon and I-9 suspensions...]
...Halliburton/KBR spokesperson Melissa Norcross declined to respond directly to allegations about undocumented workers in the Gulf...
...I was with [Victoria Cintra, the Gulf Coast outreach organizer for Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance] when she received phone calls from several Latino workers who complained they were denied, under threat of deportation, the right to leave the base at Belle Chasse. Cintra also took me along on visits to squalid trailer parks -- like the one at Arlington Heights in Gulfport -- where up to 19 unpaid, unfed and undocumented KBR site workers inhabited a single trailer for $70 per person, per week. Workers there and on the bases complained of suffering from diarrhea, sprained ankles, cuts and bruises, and other injuries sustained on the KBR sites -- where they received no medical assistance, despite being close to medical facilities on the same bases they were cleaning and helping rebuild...

It goes on.

Halliburton Watch: "subcontractor hires illegal immigrants for Katrina work"

The apparently "liberal" site called Halliburton Watch reports on the incident here.
Previously: "More on the illegal aliens at Belle Chasse Naval Air Station".

"Katrina Cleanup Contracts Continue for KBR"

"Defense Industry Daily", as its name implies, is the eWeek of those dependent on dear old DoD. They have a press release on the Kellogg-Brown-Root contract under which one of their subcontractors allegedly hired illegal aliens here.

Allbaugh: DHS merger hurt FEMA

The article "FEMA troubles no shock to previous chief" reports the thoughts of former head of FEMA Joe Allbaugh:

[He says:] "FEMA has been broken for quite some time..."
The FEMA that he directed did a good job responding to the 9-11 terrorist attacks four years ago, he said. But now it suffers as one of 22 agencies rolled into the new Department of Homeland Security.
"Functions have been moved out of FEMA. Budgets have been cut and used elsewhere," he said. He added that moving FEMA into Homeland Security had added a "couple of layers" of bureaucracy.

The DHS reponds that the move got rid of redundant functions.

...After years of dealing directly with Mr. Bush, the new department structure would add just "further layers" of bureaucracy between him and the president, Mr. Allbaugh said.
"It just didn't make any sense to me," he said...

And:

His business, the Allbaugh Group, represents a pair of large engineering and construction companies - the Halliburton subsidiary KBR and the Shaw Group - that could gain from Katrina work. He said he doesn't lobby for them but rather does special projects and long-term strategic planning. It wouldn't bother him, he said, if there were lifetime lobbying bans for those who served in high government posts.
"It wouldn't hurt me - no skin off my nose or money out of my pocket," he said, "because it's not what I do."

NYT questions no-bid rebuilding contracts

A detailed accounting of some of the fed money spent on cleanup and rebuilding is available, the NYT reports in Many Contracts for Storm Work Raise Questions.
There were 15 contracts over $100 million, and five of those were over $500 million.
And, more than 80% of FEMA $1.5 billion in contracts were no-bid or with limited bidding.

Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA.

Lest you get the impression that these connections are just Republican, recall that the head of the Shaw Group recently quit has head of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

CH2M Hill and the Fluor Corporation, two global engineering companies awarded a total of $250 million in contracts, were previously cited by regulators for safety violations at a weapons plant cleanup.
The Bechtel Corporation, awarded a contract that could be worth $100 million, is under scrutiny for its oversight of the "Big Dig" construction project in Boston. And Kellogg, Brown & Root, which was given $60 million in contracts, was rebuked by federal auditors for unsubstantiated billing from the Iraq reconstruction and criticized for bills like $100-per-bag laundry service. All of the companies have publicly defended their performance...
Rapidly buying the goods and services needed to respond to an emergency is difficult for any government agency. Federal contracting rules allow agencies to approve deals without standard competitive bidding in "urgent and compelling circumstances."
To provide some safeguards, federal agencies can hold an open competition in advance for products routinely needed in emergencies. Such agreements are known as "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity," or I.D.I.Q. contracts.
The Defense Department relied on that type of contract in assigning Kellogg, Brown & Root to perform more than $45 million in repairs to levees in New Orleans and military facilities in the gulf region...

Reuters offers a shorter rewrite of this in "Katrina clean-up work under scrutiny".

More on Bush using Katrina to drive down wages

There's a timeline and a CNN transcript here dealing with Bush using Katrina to take the opportunity to drive down American wages.
See also this excerpt from 9/21's Lou Dobbs show.

Halliburton taps $500 million Katrina contract; Allbaugh connection

In February, Joe Allbaugh's company registered to become a lobbyist for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary. KBR is currently tapping a $500 million contract to do emergency repairs related to Katrina.
A leftie site says:

Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Senate Appropriations staffers warn business lobbyists are maneuvering to tack on special-interest amendments" to the hurricane supplemental spending bill.
Was Allbaugh one of those maneuvering behind the scenes to get Halliburton a piece of the $10.5 billion pie that Congress recently passed for hurricane disaster relief?

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