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LABOR DEPARTMENT UNFAIRLY ASSAILED

On Jan. 22, The News criticized the Department of Labor's investigation of Diamond D Construction, based upon a decision issued by federal Judge John T. Curtin. The judge's remarks concerning my testimony and truthfulness are not true.

According to Curtin, at the time I prepared the Diamond D Notice of Hearing (May 2000), I was aware that Diamond D would seriously dispute the department's investigation and "challenge each and every alleged underpayment on a day-by-day, worker-by-worker basis." In light of this, according to Curtin, my testimony as to why I only scheduled three days of hearings was untrue.

In my experience, hearings involving public work investigations average one or two days. Even the most legally or factually challenging cases that I have been involved in have never taken more than six days. In this case, I scheduled three days for hearings.

The judge's statements that my testimony was untrue and unbelievable are based upon representations made by his former law clerk, Brian Fitzgerald, who is counsel for Diamond D. Contrary to what Curtin stated in his decision, Fitzgerald did not inform me that he intended to challenge each and every day and worker until June/July 2000, 30 to 45 days after I prepared the notice of hearing and scheduled the hearing dates.

Incidentally, although Fitzgerald asserted that he would conduct such a challenge at the administrative hearing, he has failed to do so. It appears that Diamond D's defense is to prolong and delay the hearing with irrelevant and unduly repetitious questions and gratuitous speeches.

The administrative hearing, which Curtin has stopped, paints a different picture than his decision. At the hearing, 13 former Diamond D workers, four Department of Transportation inspectors and one DOT engineer testified. All of them support the department's investigation findings.

As a result of Curtin's decision, the Labor Department and Public Work Wage Investigator Ronald Kinn have been criticized. Kinn is an excellent investigator and his Diamond D investigation was thorough. I suggest that those seeking the truth read the record of the administrative hearing. It is a matter of public record.

It is unbelievable that a federal judge would intervene on behalf of a contractor who blatantly refuses to comply with the labor law and refuses to testify at hearings, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

JOHN LOUGHLIN

Delmar

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