When Mark Hamilton on Jan. 28 checked in at his office at Rainbow Materials, Inc., the company's credit manager greeted him with a flurry of questions: "What's going on at 201 East Ben White?" the manager asked, mildly perturbed. "There's no job set up in the system. What's going on?"
Mr. Hamilton, then Rainbow's vice president for sales, knew the address. It was the site of the "Choice Project," a 25,000-square-foot Planned Parenthood health complex and abortion business under construction near low-income neighborhoods in Austin, Texas. The project had for months been the target of a successful construction boycott organized by Texas Contractors and Suppliers for Life (TCSL), a tiny band of grassroots pro-life activists.
Rainbow Materials, Inc., had since October been among 18 Austin concrete suppliers and other firms that snubbed the project, bringing construction on the 1.9-acre site to a halt in November 2003. But in early January, Rainbow owner Ramon Carrasquillo suddenly reversed course and said he would supply the concrete after all.
Still, Mr. Hamilton, a staunchly pro-life Catholic who had helped organize the TCSL boycott, didn't consider that the end of the matter. He prayed that his boss would change his mind again. And when Mr. Hamilton left his office on the evening of Jan. 27, that outcome still looked possible: The Planned Parenthood job did not appear on Rainbow's tracking board, and as far as he knew, no date had been set for the foundation to be poured.
That's why the credit manager's next-morning questions about East Ben White puzzled him: "What do you mean, 'What's going on?'" Mr. Hamilton asked.
The manager gave him an odd look and replied, "They poured the foundation last night."
Mr. Hamilton resigned on the spot. "They were trying to hide the job from me," he told WORLD that day. "I talked to one of the dispatchers. He told me, 'We weren't supposed to let you know.'"
The pouring of the Choice Project's foundation marked a major victory for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region. The group last September broke ground on the $6.2 million complex, which will include a 9,000-square-foot abortion and medical clinic and space for training pro-abortion activists. Planned Parenthood proclaimed on its website that the new facility was a step toward fulfilling the group's new role as a "guarantor" of women's access to abortion.
That role seemed in jeopardy for nearly four months as TCSL waged war with letters, e-mails, and face-to-face sit-downs with Austin construction firms. The pro-life group informed contractors that a list of those who participated in the Choice Project would be circulated among area church building committees-committees that were unlikely to do future business with companies that helped build an "abortion chamber." By November 2003, at least 40 contractors, including every concrete supplier within 60 miles of Austin, had refused to supply labor or materials to build the new clinic.
No concrete meant no foundation. No foundation meant no further construction. General contractor Browning Construction in November bowed out of the project, bringing construction to an abrupt halt.
But in early January, the seemingly solid wall of opposition cracked. Dallas-based firm CD Henderson stepped in to replace Browning as the Choice Project's general contractor. Then, a trickle of workmen-at least one who covered the company logo on his truck with black tape-began puttering around the site, which for two months had sat largely deserted. Finally, the foundation was poured.
And Rainbow lost a valued executive. With a wife, two kids in school (including one headed for college next year), and a mortgage to pay, Mr. Hamilton needed the job. He had only been with Rainbow since the summer of 2003, after 23 years with another construction firm in Austin. He left that job after a management shake-up: In line for the company presidency, Mr. Hamilton was passed over when the firm's board gave the job to another man. The board did not feel Mr. Hamilton would be able to get over the snub and let him go.
"That really shook me to the bone," Mr. Hamilton said. "But over the last couple of years on my faith journey, I've grown to see that the Lord is going to provide." After resigning from Rainbow, he said as much to his daughter Andrea, 17, a high-school junior. As a 47-year-old out-of-work executive looking for a job in an Austin industry polarized by a boycott he helped organize, Mr. Hamilton told his daughter, "Don't worry. With God's help, we'll get through this."
"You know what, Dad?" Andrea replied. "I'm not worried."
Mr. Hamilton chokes up at the memory of the conversation: Her faith was innocent and strong, he remembers, "but I still had that little creep of doubt that nags at you."
"When I went in and told [managers] I had to turn in my resignation, it was a sad day and there are good people at Rainbow," he said. "But if I had stayed, I feel like I'd have been turning my back on the Lord." He and his wife Paulette agreed that the biblical case against abortion outweighed any threat of financial hardship.
It may have been financial hardship that ultimately led Ramon Carrasquillo to change his mind about supplying concrete for the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. "He told me there was pressure being put on him to supply the concrete," Mr. Hamilton said. Mr. Carrasquillo said the same to Chris Danze, the contractor who led the boycott. Mr. Carrasquillo did not return seven phone calls from WORLD.
The potential for pressure was great: Since 2001, Rainbow has struggled with legal and financial troubles. A Cornell Ph.D. recipient and former University of Texas adjunct professor of engineering, Ramon Carrasquillo in 1995 opened Rainbow Materials, Inc. He quickly accumulated a pile of contracts, but also a pile of debt.
In 2001, environmental agencies slammed the company following the discovery of an illegal dumpsite where, over a six-year period, Rainbow drivers had dumped excess concrete down a landfill hillside into the Colorado River. Mr. Carrasquillo said the landfill owner had agreed to the dumping, and that neither he nor others at Rainbow knew they needed a permit. Still, environmental agencies cited Rainbow on five land-development violations. The firm pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, paid a $25,000 fine, and was forced to withdraw a pending request to build a new plant.
Mr. Carrasquillo then began working with engineers to create a river cleanup plan, and the furor over the dumpsite seemed to melt away. But financial troubles didn't. By December 2002, Rainbow sagged under $17 million in debt, according to Curtis Bruner, a financial adviser who joined the company that month to help Mr. Carrasquillo straighten out his finances. The firm's bank account was empty and suppliers had already cut Rainbow off.
Mr. Bruner, who helped Mr. Carrasquillo restructure Rainbow's debt into a three-year term, said the river spill was a "nonissue" when he joined the company. But in February 2003, under pressure from six different environmental agencies, "it came to life very, very fast," with the potential for accumulated fines of up to $750,000 and up to 15 years in jail for Mr. Carrasquillo.
Mr. Bruner and an attorney for Rainbow brokered another deal under which the firm paid a $4,500 fine and furnished a spill cleanup plan, which Mr. Bruner estimates would cost about $600,000-a sizable chunk of change for a firm on the financial brink. Since February 2003, Rainbow has clamored for the permits necessary to begin cleaning the site, but bureaucratic inertia and interagency infighting have mired their requests.
Then came a phone call. According to Mr. Bruner, someone called Mr. Carrasquillo in late December 2003 or early January 2004 and told him: We can make these problems go away, but we want you to give us the concrete for the Choice Project.
Mr. Carrasquillo readily agreed, according to Mr. Bruner, and said, "We don't have a choice."
It is still unclear who called Mr. Carrasquillo. But with the concrete foundation now in place, Planned Parenthood's flagship facility is slowly taking shape. Until now, the group had referred about 2,000 Austin women each year to other abortionists. Presumably, Planned Parenthood will now keep that business for itself, killing those children at 201 East Ben White.
Mr. Bruner defends Mr. Carrasquillo's turnabout on the Choice Project: "Abortion is legal. I wish it wasn't; I don't like it. But this is a business decision." Mr. Bruner believes abortion is morally wrong, but a more immediate moral decision for Mr. Carrasquillo, he said, was to keep 100 employees working and providing for their families.
Only days after his resignation Mark Hamilton went back to work. Shortly after resigning from Rainbow, he received a call from Capitol Aggregates, another Austin construction firm. Capitol offered Mr. Hamilton a job as a "ready mix" sales representative at a salary comparable to what Rainbow had paid him.
As far as Mr. Hamilton knows, his new employer is unaware of exactly why he left Rainbow. What does he make of the astonishing timeliness of Capitol's job offer? "You could call it a coincidence if you wanted to," Mr. Hamilton said. "But from our perspective, it's absolutely the Lord working."