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Forensic audit sought for TEE Center parking deck

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 2:27 PM
Last updated Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 5:29 AM
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The search is on for an outside firm to conduct a forensic audit of the dealmaking leading up to construction of the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center parking deck.

A request for proposals issued by Augusta’s procurement department Thursday seeks bids from firms for a forensic audit to examine financial records from Jan. 2, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2011, including “examining all funding sources, expenditures and contractual obligations relating to the TEE Center parking garage/land acquisitions/associated leases/financing,” according to a copy obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

Though a local auditor reviews the city’s books annually, a forensic auditor, if hired by the commission, will search for criminal activity and other wrongdoing.

The complex series of transactions associated with construction of the TEE parking garage – including a decision to have the deck built on privately owned land, with the exception of one small parcel, and the decision to build using air rights instead of acquiring the property outright – have been a point of contention for several commissioners since they became aware of them late last year, after the deck was completed.

The owner of the land beneath the deck, a firm called 933 Broad Street, has ties to management of Morris Communications, the owner of The Chronicle, and similar ties to Augusta Riverfront LLC, the firm that both operates the downtown Marriott and will run the TEE Center and its associated parking.

Commissioners voted 6-4 on Dec. 20 to approve a modified version of Commissioner Bill Lockett’s motion for a sweeping forensic audit of all city departments and dealings with outside firms to limit the audit to the TEE Center parking garage. Commissioners Matt Aitken, Joe Bowles, Joe Jackson and Jerry Brigham opposed the motion.

City Administrator Fred Russell has served as the point of contact between the commission and attorney Jim Plunkett, the city’s special counsel for the complex project that includes not only the TEE Center and parking deck projects but also the Augusta Richmond County Coliseum Authority’s 2010 issue of $22 million in revenue bonds to fund construction.

Russell, a former Richmond, Va., deputy chief of police, said Thursday that “obviously I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong. If we have, I’ll be surprised,” and noted that the deck had just received another award, this one from American Concrete Institute.

Questions about the process that Plunkett attempted to answer during this week’s commission finance committee meeting prompted the committee’s 2-2 divide over whether to approve a parking management agreement with Augusta Riverfront. That agreement goes before the full commission Tuesday.

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Riverman1
90613
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Riverman1 02/02/12 - 02:42 pm
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I feel much better about

I feel much better about everything now. Fred Russell says the parking deck got an award from the American Concrete Institute.

Riverman1
90613
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Riverman1 02/02/12 - 02:43 pm
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I wonder if Ed Tarver could

I wonder if Ed Tarver could supply an accountant to do the audit?

Little Lamb
47971
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Little Lamb 02/02/12 - 02:57 pm
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Wait a minute. Didn't

Wait a minute. Didn't Monday's article refer to the deck on the south side of Reynolds as "Reynolds Street Parking Deck" and the deck on the north side of Reynolds as "TEE Center Parking Deck"?

This article seems to be calling the deck on the south side as "TEE Center Parking Deck." The 933 Broad real estate is on the south side of Reynolds.

Susan McCord
132
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Susan McCord 02/02/12 - 03:04 pm
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The TEE deck is the big new

The TEE deck is the big new parking garage across Reynolds from the TEE Center. City documents have called it the "Conference Center Deck" and call an existing parking facility (connected to the Marriott) as the "Reynolds Street Parking Deck."

Little Lamb
47971
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Little Lamb 02/02/12 - 03:07 pm
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Here's what Susan McCord said

Here's what Susan McCord said in her Monday story:

In the agreement presented Monday by Russell, Marriott and TEE Center operator Augusta Riverfront LLC pays the city $25,000 annually to use the Marriott parking deck, which the city owns, while the city pays Augusta Riverfront LLC $50,000 to run the new TEE parking deck, with net profits from the TEE deck, if any, to be divided between the city and Augusta Riverfront.

There is no doubt that the city owns the parking deck already in operation on the south side of Reynolds St.; and there is no doubt that the real estate (except for the former hot dog stand parcel) is owned by 933 Broad LLC. On Monday Susan was calling that the Marriott parking deck. That is an accurate-enough name, because when you drive up to the gate to get your parking ticket, the machine says, "Welcome to the Marriott."

But above, she is calling that deck the TEE Center parking deck.

Deal Stalls

GeezeLouise
0
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GeezeLouise 02/02/12 - 03:08 pm
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Stick a fork in Russell and
Unpublished

Stick a fork in Russell and Plunkett. They're both done after this.

Little Lamb
47971
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Little Lamb 02/02/12 - 03:11 pm
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I posted the above before I

I posted the above before I read Susan's post. I can see that I am confused. Isn't the TEE Center connected to the Marriott Hotel? And doesn't the little display on the machine of the new deck on the south side of Reynolds say, "Welcome to the Marriott?"

Oh, well, I'm sure the auditor will sort it out. We certainly cannot count on Fred (What, me worry?) Russell to clarify anything.

Riverman1
90613
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Riverman1 02/02/12 - 03:12 pm
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Ha, YOU'RE confused? What

Ha, YOU'RE confused? What about me? I say just give everything to one of the zillion LLC's shifting things around and let's be done with it. Have them give us all free Chronicles as payment or something.

twolane
191
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twolane 02/02/12 - 04:00 pm
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and we do know that those
Unpublished

and we do know that those pesky little liens are about 7,000,000 just how does that kinda money simply go poof into thin air....morris made out like a bandit i bet he laughs everytime he sees what we built for him and will be paying him for well into when my grandchildren have children.....i dont expect this comment to last long

twolane
191
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twolane 02/02/12 - 04:02 pm
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yeah those liens on building
Unpublished

yeah those liens on building paid for by the taxpayers on land that privately owned that has liens posted against it...these folks took you to the bank hook line and sinker lol

Many Arrows
-1
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Many Arrows 02/02/12 - 04:55 pm
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Sadly this is necessary

Sadly this is necessary

Little Lamb
47971
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Little Lamb 02/02/12 - 05:01 pm
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It will be hard to find an

It will be hard to find an auditor who has not at one time done work for the Boardman empire. So I can predict the results of the audit:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

Although there were a few minor accounting irregularities, they were fixed by attorney Jim Plunkett during the audit. There were no criminal activities found. The construction was managed in an exemplary manner, and the convention center management deal and the parking deck management deal are bargains for the city. Give Fred Russell a raise and give an exclusive contract for city legal work to Plunkett's firm for the next fifty years.

Riverman1
90613
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Riverman1 02/02/12 - 05:05 pm
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Fred says the concrete group

Fred says the concrete group gave us an award for the parking deck so what could possibly be wrong?

eb97
835
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eb97 02/02/12 - 05:16 pm
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Just wait and watch this

Just wait and watch this entire thing blow up in Fred's, Deke's,Plunkett's, etc. faces. The Augusta taxpayers will be on the wining end after all has been exposed. I for-see people resigning from their jobs very soon. Hold on tight, this is going to be a fast and furious ride. Let the audits begin, yea.

GeezeLouise
0
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GeezeLouise 02/02/12 - 05:41 pm
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0
they need to do this on The
Unpublished

they need to do this on The Laney-Walker redevelopment too. The bonds are tied to this. I bet you will find even more funny business over there.

GeezeLouise
0
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GeezeLouise 02/02/12 - 05:48 pm
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LL.. you just wait and see.
Unpublished

LL.. you just wait and see. You may want to go to the Feb 7th commission meeting. Bring popcorn. It's going to be quite a show. No way Fred survives this.

GeezeLouise
0
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GeezeLouise 02/02/12 - 06:13 pm
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Brigham is going to look like
Unpublished

Brigham is going to look like a foll after next tuesday

wondersnevercease
9218
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wondersnevercease 02/02/12 - 06:20 pm
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LOL...eb97...do you believe
Unpublished

LOL...eb97...do you believe in your heart of hearts that the powers that be will allow ANY audit that will uncover all the slimy details of this travesty againest the taxpayers?....there will be an audit...but low and behold it will show No wrong doing....and thats the way it is in augusta Ga.So sorry for you folks over there.

Many Arrows
-1
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Many Arrows 02/02/12 - 07:31 pm
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Fred Russell has no business

Fred Russell has no business being anywhere near the selection of the auditor. Whatever firm he chooses will have citizens looking over their shoulders. They need to know that up front.

Many Arrows
-1
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Many Arrows 02/02/12 - 07:35 pm
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0
River, this paper and

River, this paper and administration promoted a Harvard prof's declaration that the Laney Walker Overlay marked a "revolutionary advance" in urban redevelopment. They are getting an award for that one too. What is stunning about it is how it abolishes property rights in order for B&C, EG M, and GA to enjoy $millions in free stimulus money. In both Magnolia Trace and there, the huge govie money bags are crushing the PEOPLE. Enough.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 02/02/12 - 10:14 pm
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I'm thinking we might need to

I'm thinking we might need to hire a forensic auditor to investigate the hiring of a forensic auditor.

In our city and with our elected officials, we have an incestuous mess with everyone covering for everyone else.

Conservative Man
5577
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Conservative Man 02/02/12 - 10:18 pm
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Who's job is it to pick the

Who's job is it to pick the auditor after the bids are submitted? THAT is the real question.....

Many Arrows
-1
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Many Arrows 02/02/12 - 10:49 pm
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Fred needs to be gone.

Fred needs to be gone. Yesterday.

Riverman1
90613
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Riverman1 02/03/12 - 04:07 am
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Interesting that the trial of

Interesting that the trial of David Fry is about to begin. Let's think about what he was offering again to Mason and Johnson to get them to vote for the TEE. Parking concessions. Now some are saying Fry knew nothing and had no power to do anything, yet, it seems he was spot on with this offer which would have been very possible as we now know who owns the land and who will have the parking concession.

By the way another year has passed. Where's the Hyatt? Who owned that land down there and said we had to hurry and pass the TEE so the hotel could be built?

Riverman1
90613
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Riverman1 02/03/12 - 04:12 am
0
0
If we could get this forensic

If we could get this forensic audit going along with the David Fry trial we could learn much more. Wouldn't that be something. Maybe get a few more indictments. The prosecutors should look closely at the audit and bring in the feds to help if necessary. US Attorney Ed Tarver would be interested, I bet, after the way he was slammed in the editorial for taking Osbon to court.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 02/03/12 - 04:18 am
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0
I think the whole thing

I think the whole thing should get an award from The American Bull Manure Institute.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 02/03/12 - 07:00 am
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How did Osbon get tangled up

How did Osbon get tangled up w/ Tarver? I miss so much when on walk-a-bout...

eb97
835
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eb97 02/03/12 - 09:33 am
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@Riverman, I agree with you.

@Riverman, I agree with you. We do need the GBI and FBI in on this thing. I believe you would see a lot of people trying to get out of town fast before the ______ hits the fan and it is going to hit and hit hard. Maybe someone can give Tarver a call today.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 02/03/12 - 10:01 am
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Abe Serotta, or anyone else

Abe Serotta, or anyone else who practices forensic accounting within 300 air-miles of ground zero or who has any relationship to Augusta, is not an acceptable choice.

raul
5531
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raul 02/03/12 - 10:49 am
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Get someone from say Columbia

Get someone from say Columbia S.C. that is still within commuting distance.

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