Thursday, April 18, 2013

Malfeasance by ALDOT

Malfeasance by ALDOT

Should never be accepted as the norm

5th division Alabama Dep. of Transportation has to be one of the most inept state departments I have ever encountered. Time after time ALDOT has misquoted the truth or just not told it at all.

This recent string of malfeasance is the limit. 5th Division ALDOT needs to be completely reseated with competent people at the head.

As far back as I can remember there has been a communications problem with L. Dee Rowe, division chief ALDOT 5th division. I sincerely believe she is incapable of performing transparently or truthfully. She obviously doesn't have the skills to keep her employees on task to complete jobs under her command.

After the tornado of April 27th, 2011, ALDOT purchased over 30 homes damaged or destroyed by the storm. Rules were passed at the city and county level demanding that ALL houses and structures left by the tornado MUST be demolished within a specifies time frame. ALDOT made some closed door meetings to allow the houses to remain after the deadline. Why? It is my sincere opinion that this has been done intentionally to reduce the land values here to accommodate purchase of properties for the Eastern Bypass.

The house above was in the process of being torn down by FEMA and the county I was told. The minute ALDOT got the landowner to sign the sale papers the crews were told to stop demolition at once and the house still stands as it was that day. WHY?

There is no other reason I can come up with except that it was intentional.

In June of last year, I asked why the houses were left in this deplorable condition and was met with "misquotes". ALDOT claimed that the houses had already been placed on a list for bids. They also told Isaiah Harper of 33/40 news the same thing.

After this story ran, it was weeks before ALDOT responded to the problem by boarding up some of the houses but leaving more than a dozen crushed septic tanks open to the public to fall in or be made sick from the gasses and mosquitoes created by the open tanks. The houses were boarded up at the request of the Sheriffs office after an attempted abduction there.

Nearly a year later we had to get 33/40 to come back out as well as the T'News to run stories about why ALDOT had still not honored the promise to fix the problems left by their  premature purchases of dilapidated houses for the Eastern Boondoggle.

33/40 ran this piece recently... 

A lot of information was left out of the first stories so I ran a piece in this blog to cover the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey used to say.

Stephanie Taylor, Tuscaloosa News also ran this story.

ALDOT came and filled in only the holes I sent pictures of but once again claimed the entire area was made safe and secure by David Kemp of ALDOT 5th division. He later recanted saying "I must have quoted it wrong" That was after 33/40 put him on the spot about past "misinformation" he spread about is failure to perform his job.
That wasn't the end of it.
After the story ran on 33/40 and T'News, I got a couple of calls asking if I had seen Cherrywood Circle? Rumors of open septic tanks and foul odors were enough for me to go and look. In about 30 minuted on the ground, I had located at least 9 more open septic tanks right in the middle of survivors who were trying to rebuild their neighborhood. All were open and full of putrid water and most were visible from Google Earth!
No excuses for not knowing the locations of the tanks
Once again, I called in the media since ALDOT 5th division was consistently quoting it wrong as David Kemp claimed. This time I sent the photos to Montgomery ALDOT headquarters. Within less than an hour of a phone call with ALDOT in Montgomery, an army of trucks, heavy equipment, subcontractors, and ALDOT 5th division leaders (or should I say lack of leadership) all showed up as if the Bryant bridge was falling! A huge effort was made to close the tanks before the media showed up but it didn't work.
ALDOT showed up just before 5 P.M. at the wrong location.
I sat in my truck across the field and watched them assemble. All of this happened within minutes of the call to Montgomery but Rowe and Kemp had been "missing" the tanks in their "weekly inspections" where Kemp was quoted as saying “ALDOT has been maintaining property and making weekly inspection throughout the acquisition process,” Kemp wrote in an email to The Tuscaloosa News. “Structures have been secured and maintenance forces have removed non-structural debris from the area."He must have "quoted it wrong" again!

L. Dee Rowe refused to be interviewed but told 33/40 off camera that she had only been told of these last week. Neighbors in the area state that they have been calling about the stench for over a year now. Maybe Dee "quoted it wrong" too!
L. Dee Rowe, ALDOT 5th Division Chief
 It did my heart good to see all of the ALDOT 5th division leaders stomping around the tall grass looking for liabilities they should have closed almost 2 years ago now.
L. Dee Rowe, ALDOT 5th division chief (center) finally does her job.

They worked until about 9:45 that night with beepers, diesel engines, clanging of equipment and even hammers 1/4 mile away were heard banging nails into houses Kemp claimed were "secure"

Isaiah ran this story...
ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Now you might think that would be enough to get ALDOT to do a comprehensive search of all of their properties to see f anymore liabilities remained. They looked all around where I was parked on the Right of Way. They carefully avoiding close contact with me or my cameras. In doing so, they left another open septic tank for several days more. Isaiah Harper and I went back to the site on Mon. 3 days later and it was still open. On inspection, I found a dead cat bloated and decomposing in the tank. I bet someone was wondering "now why doesn't that darned cat come home?"

I sent pictures of the tank to Montgomery again but this time something really happened.  A crew of ALDOT workers showed up with tiny orange flags to walk out the entire area over a couple of days.
It looked like about 10 people in all which should have pointed out any remaining problems. After they left, I went back and the open septic tank was still there and open to the public! Once again, I notified Montgomery and copied the news along with 33/40. THE TANK WAS COVERED THAT DAY!

If 5th division was run by competent leaders, none of this would have been necessary! 


It's time for Governor Bentley to take action here since it is evident ALDOT leaders are not. We need truthful and transparent leaders at ALDOT, not the current L. Dee Rowe T and company!
Enough is enough!

1 comment:

  1. We are so fortunate to have an ALDOT District Office thats stay on top of things. Thankfully they have cleaned up and continue to keep up the properties they purchased; if they had not their little orange flags would be difficult to see. Hopefully they will forward me their dictionary definitions for weekly, inspections, clean, debris, non-structural, etc..