Thursday, June 14, 2007

Incest for Fun and Profit, Part One of a Series: Maria Flotte O'Neil

Maria Flotte O'Neil is a member of the NHMCCD board and has some problems with conflicts of interest. In fact, she even seems to have problems with filling out the conflict of interest FORMS. She failed to elaborate just what sort of relationship her husband had with Gilbane Building Company.

You see, her husband, at the time she was appointed to fill out an unexpired term back in the late 90's through 2005 was Senior Manager at Gilbane Building Company (see page 60). He wasn't a floor sweeper or low level peon, he was one of the movers and shakers. Did he have decision making authority over NHMCCD's contracts? That is sort of like saying Bill Gates works for Microsoft, it kind of understates the position a bit. Gilbane is one of those companies that, were it not for schools and other government buildings, they would actually have to work for a living. They build almost exclusively school and government buildings. Mrs. O'Neil failed to list her husband's position at Gilbane on her conflict of interest form. Her husband has since left Gilbane, but where he is working now is unknown. Is he an independent contractor? Has he gone to work for another Construction firm? Has he gone to work for one of Gilbane's vendors? There are no records filed with the College district to indicate what he is doing for a living now. But then again, she wasn't exactly forthright and forthcoming about the work he did for Gilbane either....

To make matters worse, at the time she was appointed, the conflict of interest laws had just been changed so that her conflict of interest would not have precluded her appointment as l;ong as she abstained from voting on conflicting matters. The law was revised again since then to also require the filing of a conflict of interest questionnaire.

Gilbane happens to be the construction manager for ALL construction in the district, as well as the general contractor on most of the District's construction projects. Which means that they get a 3% commission on all contracts, plus they make between a 15-25% profit on any contracts that they award to themselves. A number of contractors have stopped bidding on NHMCCD projects because when the bids are opened, somehow, the Gilbane bids or Gilbane preferred vendor bids are always lower, in many instances, the Gilbane/Gilbane vendor bid has been written in by hand for only a thousand or so below the next lowest bid, almost as if the bidder was given a second chance to bid after the competing bids were known. And some claim that the bid openings are not public the way they would be if the contract was being let by the district itself, since Gilbane is the construction manager, they do not have to (and don't) open the bids publically. The only have to be able to show that the lowest bid was chosen.

Ms. O'Neil is supposed to abstain from voting whenever any construction issues are voted on. Whether she has always done so has yet to be determined, but it does beg the question: If well over half the board's business pertains to construction, and facilities issues, what is the point of having her on the board if she cannot vote on half the business before the board? Obviously her appointment was a favor to a high level manager at Gilbane, and College district board member being a somewhat anonymous political office, once she was in, she had a reasonable expectation of being there a while. She has on many, many, occasions been a cheerleader for building projects, even if she did not vote on them, so her influence on construction matters was far from absent.

Speaking of cheerleading, Mrs, O'Neil makes a very big deal of her Hispanic heritage during board meetings, wanting Hispanics in every position she can find, but here is the curious thing about that, you'd think that being an Hispanic herself, she would have filled out her election forms by checking off "Hispanic" under race. She did not, she marked Anglo/white. You would also think that she would be a member of one of the many Hispanic political organizations such as La Raza, or LULAC, or the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Her name does not appear on any of the membership lists. You'd think that she would hail from Aldine or some other heavily Hispanic part of the district. She does not, she lives in "The Thicket" which is a small enclave of $350,000 homes in heavily Anglo Klein ISD bordered by Louetta and Cypresswood to the north and south and Mirror Lake and Ella Blvd to the east and west.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I searched the major Hispanic organizations, and nowheres to be found......

So if she has this IT background then why is the IT system in the district so amiss?

If she cannot be involved in any of the construction activities, then what does she do?

June 15, 2007 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! Why isn't this information flaunted all over the internet and published in all the Houston Community Newpapers and the Chronicle, to name just a couple. Oh that's right, The HCN papers are prejudiced for NHMCCD, and the Chronicle folks are just plain stoopid.

Talk about gag a maggot!!

June 16, 2007 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm - after a little digging lots of things in this post seem to be wrong or at least misleading. I'd suggest you try doing a little homework before posting such allegations.

After digging around on their website and the net it would appear that the Regional Manager at Gilbane in Texas is Wendell Holmes and prior to that was David Chapman. It looks like those managers report to Gilbane's corporate headquarters in Rhode Island where the business is run by the family that owns it. So rather than a "Bill Gates-like" business leader it would seem that at best Wayne O'Neil was a third tier/ mid-level manager. Mr. O'Neil doesn't show up on any of their lists of corporate company officers or even regional officers that I can find. In fact it looks like his title was shortened from Senior Business Development Manager for space reasons. This doesn't sound like a a "mover and shaker", to me sounds more like someone who got stuck going to the meeting because everyone else was too busy.

According to ENR Gilbane is one of the largest construction companies in the country it appears the company did over $3bn in construction work last year and was an industry leader in hospitals, biotechnology and data-center construction so the comment that "were it not for schools and other government buildings, they would actually have to work for a living" also seems to be misleading.

Just my 2cents

July 31, 2007 6:34 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

O'Neil appears to have left the company in 2005, but he was a senior manager there prior to that. He might not have been a VP but he was at most only one level below VP.

July 31, 2007 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have worked with Gilbane extensively and have serious doubts that a $3bn+/ year corporation would risk their reputation for something that (no offense) is such relatively small potatoes for them.

From my interaction with Gilbane I can tell you that I have never heard of Wayne O'Neill. Randy Lowrance is their Senior Business Development manager and has been for many years. If anything, Wayne worked for him so I would suspect that the chain of command went something like this:

Wayne O'Neill-> Randy Lowrance-> Wendell Holmes-> Gilbane Corporate decision makers in RI.

August 01, 2007 8:38 AM  

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