My recent reporting on some real estate deals between the Arkansas Department of Career Services, headed by Bill Walker, and businesses headed by his friend Richard Mays triggered a steady flow of phone calls about the agency and its Rehabilitation Services Division.
Callers, for one thing, questioned the need for consolidation of various department and other state agencies into the former Baptist Convention headquarters on Capitol Avenue. They also questioned a number of Walker’s hires, characterizing them as cronies hired at inflated pay. I’m working on it, but it’s also probably fair to say it’s a rare state agency where leaders don’t have detractors.
But the callers seem to know a lot. That’s how I learned about another curiously timed real estate deal between Walker’s agency and a Mays compnay for a smaller North Little Rock building. They also informed me correctly that the planned addition of a third floor to the West Capitol building includes new offices for Walker and Robert Trevino, commissioner or Rehabilitation Services. Walker currently occupies an expansive office on the second floor of the building, as well as an office on the Capitol mall. Details on the finish of the new space are not available.
And then there was this tidbit that also proved to be true: Trevino charged taxpayers $192 in 2009 to have the windows tinted on his state car, a Chevy Equinox LS — a “complete tint” by Sunset Window Tinting. Why would a state employee need his car windows tinted? Don’t know. Trevino won’t return my calls. Deborah Germany, who’s paid (she refused to tell me how much) to be communications director for Walker’s agency, wouldn’t answer the question. Walker will no longer answer my questions either. The agency is about as transparent as the windows on Trevino’s car.
UPDATE: Trevino called and said he’d respond to my question about tinting in writing. He has not yet. Late in the day, Germany responded to some of my questions, including supplying her salary of $75,214. To be continued …