The Book - Bart Beck

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TAX DOLLARS AT WORK?

Another case of our tax dollars being needlessly wasted was at the Substation that received the Transmission voltage, from the Power Company, and broke it down to 7200/12470, for distribution on the Missile Base at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The project, that our work was a part of, was divided into two different sections. Ours was the first phase and a contractor from Georgia was low bidder on the second phase. It was apparent that the original plan was that the Base would be operating for some time on the first phase before the second phase capacity would be required.

Their needs either accelerated or their planning slowed down, because the Georgia Contractor (DeKalb) was working on the second phase before our first phase was due to be completed. This meant that some of the work that was to be done on our contract would be modified by the DeKalb Company when they did their second phase work.

Our contract called for the installation of some very costly switch gear in the substation that, had conditions developed the way that the original plans were laid out, would have been in use for a couple of years before it was replaced by the second phase. The DeKalb Superintendent and I got together and spent considerable time and effort figuring out a way that we could eliminate much of the equipment that we were to furnish plus a sizable amount of both Companies' labor, and give several thousand dollars of credit to the Corps, for labor and material not used.

We both felt pretty proud of ourselves when we presented our plan to the Commanding Officer of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, at the Patrick Air Force Base, who was accompanied by a couple of Engineers from the Jacksonville Office and the Base Commandeer at Canaveral. It sure didn't take long for that room full of brains to convince the both of us that Jacksonville would do the thinking and we should confine our talents, if any, to the carrying out of the work in accordance with their Plans and Specifications.

Needless to say, the DeKalb Superintendent and I left that meeting with a deflated ego and could have assumed the same attitude that many other contractors have, under similar circumstances, and that is, screw the government every time you get a chance, but I didn't and I am sure that he sized up what little good sound thinking that was manifested, and said to himself, "Ah! to hell with it", just as I did. He was a good Super, I wish that I could remember his name.

When we completed our work, in the Substation, and it was accepted by the Corps Inspector, DeKalb's men, who had been waiting outside the Station gate, came in and started removing the new Switch Gear that we had just installed. I have always hoped that they had a place that they could use that beautiful equipment, because those switches had never been closed.

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