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Concrete realities

"Concrete realities" Continued...

Issue: "Remaking the family," March 6, 2004

"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."

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