Home » When things fall apart
Community Voice

When things fall apart

All work, no play in the world of taxes. Will they ever get a break?

Every morning 1,800 employees enter the California State Board of Equalization Building.   Past the sliding glass doors, security, then up the elevators to get to work.  Most never notice the 2 by 5 signs taped to the glass doorways upfront.  

Warning: Chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, may be found in the facility.  California Health and Safety Code Section 25249.6

Warning label posted in all front and side doorway entrance of the State Board of Equalization building.

Though it’s not only harmful chemicals, that has plagued the safety of the buiding in the past. Two weeks ago, on January 11, pieces of broken glass fell eight stories to the sidewalk on 5th and N Street.

The sidewalk is still blocked with caution tape and orange cones although the gaping hole between the 8th and 9th floors has been secured with plywood according to the Department of General Services.

Sooner or later the cones and yellow tape will also go away and the employees won’t remember a thing. They will go on with their lives, remaining apathetic because, they’re just too busy to think about it.

After all, a day without work means no revenue for the State of California.  The staff is there to complete the work, not to complain about their environment.

"It’s dangerous, really dangerous," exclaimed Phillip Robinson, an IT professional who has worked in the building for more than 8 years. "In the past, they had scaffolding on all four sides. I’m surprised they only blocked off the side where the window fell off."

He glances up at the high rise pointing to where the piece fell off.  There were more random pieces that fell down in the afternoon. This prompted the guards not only to close the sidewalk but also the traffic lane adjacent to the building on 5th Street to close.

"We don’t know if other debris will fall. There’s no guarantee. Watch your head, " a security guard warned. 

Tax professionals slaving away at their desk received an email from the union in the afternoon to encourage letters of concern to media.

"No one wants to say anything. Most are afraid to be fired if they did," states Luz Susa who works in the returns support unit. Silence is golden for the golden state.

While it is true.  Management  does have every intention to move the employees out of the place, they just do not have the funds to do so.  The money for relocation would come from the general fund because the owners of the building is the Department of General Services.  

With California holding the bag for a $17.5 Bilion deficit, and already cutting jobs and social service programs, there is just no room to renovate the building to code.   

Even if civil servants end up with tumors after serving their time, it looks like management will still be at this gridlock.

Historically, the building has had it’s string of flaws. People have reported getting trapped in elevators, plumbing breaks leading to floods on the 9th floor, and front glass sliding doors coming loose almost falling on innocent bystanders. Other red flags wave at poor air quality, freezing temperatures that force employees to work with their winter coats on, mold scares, and strange odors that forced entire floors to close. 

Caution signs on the stairwell of the 8th floor closing off the entire floor.

Still, the managers, tax representatives, and support staff continue to work in hazardous health and safety conditions like it’s not any more dangerous working in the BOE building than Fukushima.

Why do they do it? They do so because they have hungry families to feed, because they have no other place to go, and the State of California urgently needs this money. This money that they can’t even touch. 

The irony is that state workers file in to work with more pressure to collect needed tax dollars so California can be restored to a fully functional budget, not factoring in their own risk in the equation.

After all, is it worth losing a job when your family, sanity, and long term health is really what is at stake?

Maybe we should take the action of the vendor who used to run the cafeteria’s example.   One day , they just up and left without notice to the Department of General Services.  

Cafeteria mysteriously closes on the Monday after the glass fail with no notice to Department of General Services.

If it looks dangerous, it probably is.  

Run away, really fast.  DGS obviously does not care about the people who work in the building.  In fact, they’re careful to make them stand under more danger while they wait for their lunch to cook.  

State workers enjoy a new cafeteria. Catering trucks come complete with a new open seating area.

Support Local


Subscribe to Our
Weekly Newsletter

Stay connected to what's happening
in the city
We respect your privacy

Subscribe to Sacramento

Share via
Copy link