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Attorney for city asks judge to lift injunction on Augusta construction contracts

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Because Augusta has changed some purchasing practices, the city asked a judge Tuesday to lift the injunction preventing it from proceeding with the $18 million renovation of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet found city purchasing practices illegal.  Special
Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet found city purchasing practices illegal.

Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet said he would decide within a few days whether the city has done enough to bring its method of awarding major construction contracts within the bounds of state law and city ordinances.

In September, Overstreet found that the city practices weren’t legal, and he granted a request for an injunction in the Richmond County Superior Court lawsuit against the city filed by John Z. Speer Jr. and the Augusta-Richmond County Property Owners Association.

Overstreet agreed with the arguments given by the plaintiff’s attorney, Jack Long, that the city has ignored state and local law governing how to award public construction contracts larger than $100,000.

Since 2005, the city has awarded major construction contracts through a method it contends gets the best quality and saves money – a construction manager at-risk.

State law allows a city to use methods other than competitive bidding to find the best services at the lowest cost, but a city must follow certain rules.

On Tuesday, Jim Ellison – a private attorney whom the Augusta Commission hired to represent the city in the case in addition to the in-house general counsel – said Overstreet’s order has been reviewed and the city has addressed most, if not all, of the “deficiencies” listed.

The procurement ordinance has been amended to allow the city to use the construction manager at-risk method, Ellison said. A written justification for not using competitive bids for the municipal building renovation has been entered. The city amended its request so that the company hired as the construction manager at-risk for the municipal building renovations must obtain labor and materials through competitive bidding, Ellison said.

The plaintiff’s attorney countered that the city is still in violation of the law because its selection process was based on subjective criteria and not objective reasoning. For the municipal building renovation, how much the city will pay for the construction manager at-risk’s services was worth only 15 of a possible 100 points, Long said.

A selection committee scored Turner Construction of Atlanta the highest for the job. The commission hasn’t voted yet on accepting the recommendation for the $18 million special purpose sales tax item approved by voters in 2009.

Ellison countered that the law doesn’t say what value has to be assigned to price. That is up to the city commission, he said.

Long argued that the city’s method is no different from bid-rigging when cost isn’t a concern. If the judge vacates the injunction, it will only encourage the city to continue with illegal practices and waste taxpayer money, he said.

Overstreet told both sides he worries that he will end up being the “contract judge” who must review and approve any future contacts. The city has acknowledged it must put in writing why competitive bidding won’t be used. So long as they do it publicly and on the record, someone can be held accountable if the deal goes bad, he said.

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Privy 11/08/11 - 09:05 pm
18 million renovation? wth?

18 million renovation? wth?

Insider Information
Insider Information 11/08/11 - 09:12 pm
Has this city, especially our

Has this city, especially our beloved Procurement Department, ever done anything "publicly and on the record"?

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 11/09/11 - 02:38 am
"...Publicly and on the

"...Publicly and on the record," huh?

Sounds like all future A-RC contracts would be filed on-line as Double Cross was wont to do when asked at a public meeting how info about the $800M Regional T-SPLOST would be disseminated to The Public.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/09/11 - 07:02 am
This will never happen: Sandy

This will never happen:

Sandy Hodson wrote:

So long as they do it publicly and on the record, someone can be held accountable if the deal goes bad, Overstreet said.

Once a large construction project is done, it's done. If it turns out to have faulty construction a few years later, there is no one "accountable" except the owner to repair the problem. That's a pipe dream what Overstreet said about accountability.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 11/09/11 - 08:00 pm
Carlisle is one of the wisest

Carlisle is one of the wisest men around. All he is trying to do is get tax users to be accountable like the good taxpayers and we see how hard they fight against accountability. The Atlanta co they selected is ate up with illegal alians, can't they find a LEGAL BUILDER?
Our cops are dying on our rds and all the tax users can think of is how to waste more of the taxpayer money on things they should have taken care of. Augusta gave the tax users a MARBLE PALACE and now the tax users are saying they did this many million in damages to the Marble Palace we gave them. All they need is a few water fountains and a little TLC, that doesn't add up to this many millions. When are THEY going to pay all the millions in damages they say needs fixed?
Now these addicts are hounding Carlisle to allow another fix. Hang in there Carlisle we know how hard it's going to be to get these OPM addicts off O.ther P.eople’s M.oney and become accountable but you are our ONLY hope.

GAprocurement 11/09/11 - 10:07 pm
Its truly not as difficult as

Its truly not as difficult as the City and judicial system has made this out to be. All 35 universities, at least one county school system and the State use a purchasing system provided by SciQuest proven to provide complete transparency and regulate a legal process through workflow approvals and supplier scoring. Shame, shame for the waste perpetrated on the people of this fine City for years. An inexpensive solution for checks and balances could have been put in long ago to ensure a fair process. The example is in your backyard!!!!

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