Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Trashed Follow Up
Tonight, a Seven News investigation gets the attention of state leaders in Tallahassee. We first told you about usable furniture being trashed by a state agency last month. It shocked a senator who doesn't want to see it happen again. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- This dumpster behind the Broward Office of the Department of Children and Families was filled with broken up office furniture. There were chairs and desks and bookcases.
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 back using sledge hammers to break up office furniture. Why, the worker wondered, would usable furniture be trashed?"
The explanation? The department was getting new furniture from an office that was being closed, so the old stuff had to go.
Carmel Cafiero: "Isn't there somebody who could have used this?"
Leslie Mann: "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."
State senator Rudy Garcia got wind of our report. He sits on the committee that oversees the department.
State Senator Rudy Garcia: "I was shocked that the department would allow something like that to happen, whether they were downsizing or up-sizing."
The senator says someone somewhere could have used this furniture, even if it was old stuff.
Rudy Garcia: "So what you find in furniture today and the way that is being treated is that perhaps the way that some people may be treated as well? That's what worries me as well."
Garcia was so concerned he called up the story on WSVN.com and showed it to the head of the Department of Children and Families.
Rudy Garcia: "He had a look of shock, and to think that this is something that his department under his watch is doing."
George Sheldon is the secretary of the department. He says he didn't know about the trashed furniture until Garcia showed him our story.
Secretary George Sheldon: "We've got some very hard working people who work very hard to do the right thing. This was not one of their finest hours."
Sheldon made his opinion clear when he came to South Florida for meetings.
George Sheldon: "I think it was a stupid decision, not just a bad decision."
George Sheldon: "At a time when we have the economic downturn we've got right now, the last message we ought to be getting out there is that we're destroying old furniture."
Sheldon made sure each of his regional directors statewide got that message loud and clear.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE: