Page created Dec 3, 2011
On August 30, 2011, Mr. J.R. Johnson of Hico, Texas (a small town about 100 miles southwest of Dallas) filed a legal complaint with the District Court of Williamson County, Texas. The complaint arises from a subcontract job that Mr. Johnson, doing business as Centex Construction, performed for Solidarity Contracting. The job was performed on the building facilities of the Harmony School of Political Science in Austin, Texas, a publicly-funded Gulen charter school that opened in the fall of 2011. These facilities are owned by the Cosmos Foundation, a Gulenist organization that is the charter holder of the chain of Harmony Public Schools.
In this complaint, Mr. Johnson contends that he is due $432,995.00, which he says is the unpaid remainder of the total amount he was owed for work performed in May and June 2011, relating to the stucco and facade of the building. The work was completed on July 12, 2011, according to Mr. Johnson, who says he has been trying to collect payment since then. Mr. Johnson's suit states that the amount in question is specified by the written contract and the change orders in connection with the job.
Mr. Johnson has indicated that the delay in payment is causing him considerable hardship and is having an adverse effect on his ability to take on new contracts.
The original complaint document can be downloaded here:
Solidarity Contracting is a Texas company owned by Levent Ulusal. This company was featured in an article in the Spring 2011 edition of the trade journal Construction Leaders Today. The cover of that edition shows a photo of the Harmony School of Art and Technology in Houston, Texas, another Harmony Public School site for which Solidarity Contracting performed general contracting. The article suggests that Ulusal had scant experience in the construction industry before he found himself in charge of general contracting for Texas public school buildings: "Ulusal earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in his homeland of Turkey and came to the United States in 2000 to earn an MBA in corporate finance. He worked in investment banking and accounting for eight years, but has always been interested in construction. In 2009, Ulusal joined Solidarity and later bought the entire company."
Several other statements in the article are noteworthy. The line "About 60 percent of Solidarity’s business is repeat or word-of-mouth, including a newly completed building for North American College in Houston," likely refers to the fact that much of Solidarity's business comes from within the Gulen Movement network; North American College is also a Gulenist institution. Another line of interest: "Solidarity does not employ many laborers; instead, the company subcontracts on most jobs." Ties to Gulen Movement
Levent Ulusal of Solidarity Contracting has several Gulenist connections. He is listed as a director of The Institute of International Commerce and Partnership (IICP) along with Yunus Dogan, Celil Yaka, Unal Cevak, and Fatih Yigit (source: website of Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts).
Mr. Ulusal is described on the website of the Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce (TTACC) as Vice President. The TTACC is listed on the website of the Turkic American Alliance (TAA) as one of its member organizations. The TAA, formerly named the ATAF, was explicitly described in this New Jersey news article as the umbrella organization of the Gulen Movement in the United States.
Mr. Ulusal's connections to the Raindrop Turkish House (a.k.a. Raindrop Turkevi) and TUSKON, two other Gulenist organizations, are shown by the following quote from their website: "Members of the Raindrop Turkish House and Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce (TTACC) hosted Eli Cox, the chairman of the marketing department at the McCombs School of Business at University of Texas at Austin (UT) to discuss a possible collaboration between Raindrop Turkish House, TTACC, and UT's School of Business for business networking trip to Turkey. ... Levent Ulusal, the vice president of Texas Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce, made a presentation about the Texas Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Tuskon (short for Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey), which is currently the largest civic organization in Turkey with 15000 members."
Connections of Mr. Ulusal's co-directors at the IICP further illustrate that he is part of a tightly-knit circle of businessmen with ties to the Gulen Movement and the Cosmos Foundation.
Fatih Yigit was listed as Secretary on at least one of the Cosmos Foundation's IRS Form 990s.
Celil Yaka, according to his Linked In Profile (accessed Dec 2011), is the President of the Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce, a Gulenist organization. He is also Financial Manager at Helix Design & Production, LLC, which has produced websites for the Cosmos Foundation, Harmony Public Schools, and a number of other Gulenist organizations in Texas.
Unal Cevak is associated with DNR Catering Services, a company that provides meals to Harmony Public Schools. A June 6, 2006 article in the Houston Chronicle mentions Unal Cevak as the co-owner of DNR European Fast Food, and, interestingly, also mentions Inci Akpinar of Atlas Texas Construction and Trading as a patron (Ms. Akpinar was accused by charter school official Folwell Dunbar of offering him a bribe in connection with Abramson Science and Technology Charter School in Louisiana, as reported by the Times-Picayune.)
Atlas Texas Construction & Trading, Inc. has obtained millions of dollars in construction contract work from the Cosmos Foundation. Yunus Dogan is the CEO of Atlas. He is also on the advisory board of ISWEEEP, a Houston-based science "competition" run by the Cosmos Foundation. Additionally, he is a director of Atlas Texas Food and Beverages LLC, along with Unal Cevak. Atlas has provided meals to Harmony Public Schools, as mentioned in Stephanie Saul's June 6, 2011 New York Times article Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas.
Mr Johnson has attempted to obtain relief by appealing to the office of State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. He has provided this website with a copy of the response he received, so that the public can be informed. As an aside, it so happens that Eddie Lucio was a co-sponsor of Texas State Resolution 85, commending Fethullah Gulen.
From: Louie Sanchez <Louie.Sanchez@senate.state.tx.us>
Subject: FW: Harmony School - Austin
To: "Jr Johnson" <*****************>
Date: Monday, November 28, 2011, 1:36 PM
Took him 22 days to respond, but it’s a response… see below.
From: Soner Tarim
Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2011 7:13 PM
To: Louie Sanchez
Subject: RE: Harmony School - Austin
We have been following this issue through our lawyers who are placing great legal pressure to make the payment.
We are hoping this will result positively. However it will take a while since lawyers are in the middle. I will keep you inform as I learn more.
Dr. Soner Tarim, CEO
Superintendent of Schools
Phone : 713-343-3333 Ext. 205
Web : www.harmonytx.org
From: Louie Sanchez [mailto:Louie.Sanchez@senate.state.tx.us]
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2011 9:36 PM
Subject: Harmony School - Austin
I’d like to follow up with the matter you and I discussed last week regarding the lien on the Harmony School in Austin. What is the current status? Please advise.
LOUIE SANCHEZ | Chief of Staff
SENATOR EDDIE LUCIO, JR.
Texas Senate District 27
Chairman, Senate Committee on International Relations & Trade
Further updates regarding this case will be added as developments occur.
UPDATE SPECIFIC INFORMATION; 12/11/2011
Enter "Cosmos" into the Grantee box select Search.
Instrument 2011054030 lists about 1 dozen laborer names and they are all Hispanic names.
If these are illegal workers, then Harmony / Cosmos can try and beat them out of their pay.
there are 2 releases of mechanic liens filed (meaning they have been paid or payments are being made)
there is a lis pendens filed on the property , .a lis pendens blocks the property from a sale or other transactions UNTIL the debt is paid, which then a "release" would be filed. "lis pendens - means a "lien" is pending on the property.
Is it right that a political science school is starting out with these unethical behaviors? Is this the message we send to children, build a school and dup the laborers, suppliers and contractors out of their money?
Pacesetter Personnel Services $67,473.17
Kara Building Specilities 4,756.75
Morrel Masonry Supply, Inc $137,856.67
J.R. Johnson dba Centex Const. $432,995.00
American Drywal $135,190.00
Champion Site Prep L.P. (John Gustanis) $87,495.80
Arrow Glass & Mirror $129,806.36