A.C. Continues Cooling Abandoned Gov’t Building.
ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – Chris Hayes first exposed the problem two weeks ago. We couldn`t believe it when we first spotted a huge air conditioning unit working overtime, cooling a vacant government building. It’s the abandoned headquarters for the Human Development Corporation (HDC) in St. Louis.
Former employee Heather Hewitt said, “I was shocked that resources are being used by a building that is no longer in use.”
Hewitt is one of dozens of former employees who didn`t get their final paycheck. She can almost see her chances of getting paid blow right out the open window we found.
We even took a weather thermometer and held it inside the open window. The gauge dropped about 25 degrees.
We contacted Board President Charles Barge. He closed the windows we told him were open and he shut off the small window A.C. unit. However he said he must keep the central air running on the empty building because it`s tied to the Urban League building next door. Several sources confirm that’s true, but the Urban League is paying its share of the bill.
Meanwhile, Hewitt says HDC owes her close to $800, which pales in comparison to employees who didn’t know the non-profit secretly stopped paying their health insurance.
Hewitt explained that her former colleagues “used their insurance and didn`t know it wasn`t valid anymore and now are responsible for those costs. Some people have tens of thousands of costs against them because of the actions of leadership of the organization.”
HDC is out of business after getting millions in federal stimulus funds. Regulators allege mismanagement and are demanding HDC pay back about $700,000 Former CEO Ruth Smith won`t comment even though she`s the one most people seem to think has answers about where the money went. Hewitt hopes HDC’s failure sends a message to anyone who sits on a board.
She warned, “You`re not just there to have your name attached to an organization. You have a job to do, which is to provide oversight to an organization to hold the president or executive director accountable and to know what`s going on at all times.”
When that doesn’t happen, the taxpayer waste we’ve exposed appears to be the consequence.
The building is owned by the City of St. Louis, but still currently leased by HDC. The non-profit’s heating and air bill is currently delinquent by tens of thousands of dollars, which means we all may pick up the tab for cooling the vacant building in the form of higher rates.