Friday, November 29, 2013

Abele's Courthouse Fire Cost Over $10 Million and Counting

On July 6, 2013, electrical equipment in the basement of the Milwaukee County Courthouse caught on fire.  It is being reported that the cost for the clean up is now over $10 million and the bills are still rolling in:
The $10.2 million billed so far by Universal Restoration Services of Menomonee Falls covers mainly costs of cleanup and extending temporary power to the courthouse complex, which includes the courthouse, the Safety Building and the Criminal Justice Facility.

An itemized list of work done by subcontractors lists carpet cleaning and replacement, duct cleaning, furniture moving, building guard houses near the blocked-off portion of N. 10th St. adjacent to the courthouse, and elevator maintenance.
What is also very interesting is that they are still not officially coming out with a cause for the fire:
Meanwhile, investigations into the cause of the fire have been launched by the state Insurance Commissioner, firms involved in installation or maintenance of the old electrical system, and several insurance companies hoping to limit their losses related to the July 6 blaze.

No one was injured in the fire, which broke out on a Saturday when the building was nearly vacant and was confined to a small basement room.

Arson was ruled out as a cause by the Milwaukee Fire Department within days of the fire. Other causes — including faulty electrical equipment or installation, or shoddy maintenance — are a focus of the investigation, said Don Tyler, director of administrative services for the county.

If such flaws are discovered, insurance companies are likely to seek reimbursement from contractors involved in earlier electrical work, he said.
Don Tyler, Chris Abele's Director of Administration said that "he's confident the state's Local Government Property Insurance Fund will cover all the county's losses. He declined to estimate what the full cost of the fire ultimately will be."

That is very different from what he said just two months ago (emphasis mine):
Under questioning by supervisors, Tyler said it was possible some costs of the fire may not be covered by insurance if it's shown that the courthouse electrical equipment wasn't properly maintained.
Heck, even the Emperor himself admitted that the system was outdated and sorely in need of maintenance:
The fire began at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in a large basement utility room with numerous electrical systems inside. Fire officials estimated the cost of the damage to the building at $368,000, and the property damage inside was estimated at $150,000.
"Some equipment is older than it probably should be," Abele said of the utility room's contents.
I would say so.  Abele had a report in his hands from months before the fire which clearly stated the equipment was not up to snuff and needed replacing, yet Abele did nothing to resolve the issue:

The report by consultant CBRE — issued in February — called for replacing old components and other improvements in the electrical system.

The courthouse power system is 47 years old and "approaching or beyond its life expectancy," according to the report by CBRE, a real estate services firm.

Aging electrical components should be replaced, the report said.

In addition to shortcomings with the courthouse electrical, plumbing and heating systems, the building also has no sprinkler system, the CBRE report says.

It also pointed out that the power substation in the courthouse basement is next to a paint shop and hazardous paint fumes. The report called for ventilation or separation of the two areas.

Saturday's courthouse fire did not engulf the paint shop, said Don Tyler, the county's director of administrative services.

The CBRE report also recommended replacement of branch power panels, which are as old as the building. The courthouse was completed in 1932.

The report also noted that steam piping routed above the courthouse electrical substation should have a drain pan installed to protect the substation.
But even without the report, the fact that they had to have giant fans blowing on the electrical equipment to keep it from overheating should have been a clear sign that things were not as they should have been.

Abele likes to boast about seeking out efficiency wherever he can, saving the taxpayers money and being accountable.  But this alone shows that he does none of those things.  We need to rid ourselves of him as badly as we need to rid ourselves of David Clarke.


  1. Capper, thanks.

    "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

  2. Abele is another bait-and-switch opportunist running a stealth agenda against the middle class.