The array of state agency tenants in the Union was much more impressive than those in the RSA Plaza. With the green light from the Governor’s Office, Bronner had little difficulty in lining up a stellar group. Among the anticipated occupants were the State Purchasing Department, the State Comptroller, the Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), the Department of Labor, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and numerous smaller agencies. One of the small ones was the Office of Space Management, the agency which arranged all rental deals for other state agencies, a real plum to have in our office building. Once again I became the confidante of these agency heads and their liaison with the RSA.
Bronner determined early on that the PSC would get the prestigious top two floors, but soon after that Commissioners Jim Sullivan and Jan Cook got into a political fight and refused to allow the planning to go forward. The delay lasted six months and the bid date was fast approaching. Bronner became frustrated with the pair and told me to tell them that further foot dragging would cost them the top floor assignment. Sullivan and Cook, who were running against each other for Sullivan’s seat, ignored the threat I had relayed. After another month of delay, I carried the message that they had now lost the top floors. I carried a second message from Dr. Bronner to Dr. Henry J. (Hank) Hector, the Executive Director of ACHE, that his agency was now the recipient of the honored top floor of the Union. Hector was delighted. PSC Commissioner Sullivan, who thought his statewide re-election to the presidency of the Public Service Commission gave him the rank of deity, exploded.
In response to a demand from Sullivan, a summit meeting was held with Dr. Bronner, all three Public Service Commissioners, their staff and myself, to review the situation. The Commissioners tried to foist all the delay blame onto yours truly, but Bronner knew better. Nonetheless, he reversed his decision and agreed that the PSC could have the top two floors despite their wayward behavior.
Bronner told me to go back to Hank Hector and tell him that his Commission on Higher Education was demoted back to the seventh floor. Now it was Hector’s turn to have a conniption. He became so mad at my message that he exclaimed he would not move into the Union building at all! Hector subsequently relented and did move in, but there is nothing like dealing with all the prima donna agency heads in the wake of David Bronner’s machinations.
-Charles Humphries (“Peril and Intrigue Within Architecture”)