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Everyone can agree that the 2008 Lake Nona VA Hospital project is way behind schedule and that construction problems abound, but there's lots of controversy surrounding exactly what is happening in Orlando's new Veterans' Hospital and how to fix the problems.
Florida Today has been following the story for over two years now, and contributor Fernando Rendon continues to write about his opinions on evildoing contractors cheating on federal laws and not giving construction workers the wages they are entitled to under the Davis-Bacon Act.
According to Rendon in Florida Today's Opinion Matters blog, the result of Davis-Bacon violations has been construction work being done by unskilled and even undocumented workers since savvy construction workers aren't going to work a project that doesn't pay them right ... resulting in a badly built project for our veterans.
He points to flooding inside the project which has led to standing water and inevitably, mold. Florida Today is reporting mold being evident throughout the construction and alleges that mold is growing in the new hospital's ventalation systems. Bad way to start a construction project.
Who's Fernando Rendon that we should care about his opinion? He's a regular contributor to the Opinion Matters blog, where his bio explains that "Rendon is an Air Force veteran who is a business agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 606. He lives in Melbourne."
Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel has also editorialized about what is happening at the Lake Nona Veterans' Affairs Hospital Project. Today, in an opinion piece entitled, "Our take on: VA hospital hold-up," the mainstream media opines that Central Florida veterans are getting a "bum steer" in the new VA Hospital projects.
The Sentinel's take on things: the problems lie with RFIs. RFIs, or "Requests For Information" are standard operating procedure in any construction project. On the VA Hospital project, any questions that pop up as the work goes along are sent via an RFI form to the Department of Veterans' Affairs by the subcontractor to get clarification on how to turn what is shown on the drawings into a constructed reality on the project site.
The RFI should flow through a process where the VA, the architect, and the engineer, read and respond to the query and an answer is promptly returned to the subcontractor working on the site. According to the Sentinel, there have been over 3200 RFIs and the average turnaround on getting an answer is almost one month: 27 days.
Bottom line according to the Sentinel, these three powers that be - the VA, the architect, and the engineer - are "unreliable" and this is the big problem with the Lake Nona VA Hospital Project.
Delay damages. Failure to comport with federal wage laws. Failure to hire proper workers. Failure to properly respond to RFIs.
All of this - smoke signals to potential litigation claims and defenses as the Lake Nona VA Hospital project struggles to get finished for Florida veterans in the area who now have to travel to places like Gainesville for treatment ... and a bad thing to have happen in blooming and blossoming Lake Nona.
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