Friday, March 27, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Trashed
A lot of state agencies are having to do more with less money in today's troubled economy, so why then would usable furniture be destroyed? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with "Trashed," a special assignment report.
WSVN -- Shortly before Seven News took these pictures, this trash was actually office furniture being used in the Broward County office of the Department of Children and Families. Within a day, desks, bookcases, file cabinets and even chairs were destroyed and dumped.
Carmel Cafiero: "We came to the office after a call from a state employee who works here. That person said inmates from the county jail were around the back using sledge hammers to break up the office furniture. Why, the worker wondered, would useable furniture be trashed?
When we got here, the inmates were gone, but clearly furniture had been broken into pieces. This desk had been spared. A note read, 'Please leave do not destroy.'
Inside the building, we saw a bookshelf and a computer desk that had the name Carlos on it.
Carmel Cafiero: "Hello."
I never found Carlos, but I did find representatives of the Department of Children and Families.
Carmel Cafiero: "Isn't there somebody who could have used this?"
Leslie Mann: "Carmel, you know there's a saying about one man's junk is another man's treasure, and perhaps there is somebody who could have used this, but we're moving at lightening speed right now to consolidate our offices."
DCF explained that in order to make way for new furniture from another office that was being closed the old stuff was trashed.
Carmel Cafiero: "So every desk that was destroyed had a problem? Do you know that for a fact?"
Ismael Martinez: "Most of the furniture that we had was very, very old, and it was used by many different workers."
Although, in the past, the department says it has donated used office furniture, this time no such effort was made.
Carmel Cafiero: "But would you consider it to be useless?"
Leslie Mann: "Well, it's furniture that we no longer had any use for because we had new furniture."
DCF says the furniture was old and not high-end.
Leslie Mann: "Well, I can understand looking into this, but I don't think that we had enough items here that we were disposing of that we should have such a ruckus about it right now."
But right now many people are about avoiding waste, including the state employee who contacted us and told me, "It was so upsetting to see them breaking up useable furniture when so many people are in need."
Leslie Mann: "And while maybe there was somebody who would have wanted it, we just didn't have the time or the ability to store it for somebody to pick up today."
Tallahassee did approve the destruction of the furniture four days after it had already been trashed.