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COLUMN

Happytown

Playing Tea Party with the kids (and Dick Morris!), playing favorites with dog breeds and paying the Chinese for VA construction. God bless Orlando.

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That’s all well and good, but private VA construction drama is so much more interesting, especially when it comes from a house music producer with a British accent. Sam Mollison, who remixed Craig David’s seminal “Hot Stuff (Let’s Dance),” was also a procurement manager last fall for Quinco Electrical, a Winter Park company contracted to do the electrical work for the new VA facility. He called us in October to warn us that the new building at Lake Nona could soon be full of Chinese connectors and couplings – a violation of the Buy American Act, which more or less mandates the use of domestically supplied materials for federal construction projects. Mollison said that the company won federal contracts for VA projects with unbeatably low bids, then, for the sake of profit, bought cheap foreign material that did not reflect the official product submittals to the feds.

The boxes that contained the Chinese materials – in other words, the evidence – were systematically discarded under orders of Quinco bosses, he told us, adding that another VA hospital in Cape Coral further along in development already had the inferior Chinese materials installed. “Everything should have been American-made,” Mollison says. “That’s not what we were shipping out there.”

The charges were corroborated by another former Quinco manager, Steve Wall, so we left a message for the VA hospital in Cape Coral in October to inquire. Sexier things caught our attention and months passed, but then Shinseki’s impending visit reminded us to check up. Lo and behold, there was a shake-up: According to Richard Martire, senior resident engineer at the Cape Coral VA, our voicemail spurred an investigation, the foreign parts were discovered and now Quinco will now be forced to pay restitution to the federal government. God bless America!

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