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Panel agrees on points for parking garages audit

Monday, June 18, 2012 8:49 PM
Last updated Tuesday, June 19, 2012 1:19 AM
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An Augusta subcommittee charged with narrowing the focus of a forensic audit into dealmaking connected to two downtown convention center parking garages agreed Monday on four issues that private firms seeking the job should consider.

The Augusta Commission voted in December to investigate the parking deals after commissioners learned that the city built a $12 million parking deck on land it didn’t own. In an effort to contain the cost associated with a massive, open-ended probe, the subcommittee was formed to tell the auditors where and how hard to look.

The questions surround construction and management of the new parking garage built to serve the Augusta Convention Center, also known as the Trade, Exhibit and Event, or TEE, Center, and an existing Reynolds Street parking facility, connected to the downtown Marriott, that was modified during construction of the adjacent convention center.

The four areas of inquiry, read into the record Monday by subcommittee chairman Commissioner Bill Lockett, went as follows:

1. Whether the Reynolds Street Parking Deck was constructed without executed agreements between parties and, if so, was such allowance legal and in violation of Augusta, Ga., codes and procurement procedures and was such done with or without Commission awareness and approval.

2. Obtain and evaluate parking deck management requests for quotations covering subject parking decks, if any exist, to determine whether bids were properly solicited, processed and evaluated.

3. If there were alternative bids taken, determine whether combined Reynolds Street Parking Deck and TEE Center Parking Deck agreements allow costs materially in excess of those bids, with or without the approval of the commission and any other legally necessary parties.

4. Whether any illegal, fraudulent and/or improper acts occurred in any transaction involving the acquisition, trade, transfer and/or encumbrance of any parcel, tract or remnant of land or air property involved in or related to the Reynolds Street Parking Deck or TEE Center Parking Deck.

At the subcommittee meeting, Lockett credited an online blog, whose members include candidates for public office, with researching public records and raising questions about the deal. One of its members, Harrisburg activist Lori Davis, is running for the District 1 commission seat this year and attended Monday’s meeting.

Andrew MacKenzie, general counsel for the city, said the four areas are a great place to start and would help the commission set a budget for the audit to give to firms bidding on the work, to be done in two phases.

Commissioner Alvin Mason, who is serving with Lockett, Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle and four city department heads on the subcommittee, said as the audit process moves along the commission should back off.

“If this is going to be done, we keep the integrity of this process as best we can (and) we keep our little stinking hands out of it,” Mason said.

He added that the forensic auditor will not determine whether the deals struck weren’t the most profitable to the city.

“If it’s not the best deal, that doesn’t make it illegal,” Mason said.

Several of the agreements likely to be scrutinized are with Augusta Riverfront LLC, the firm that manages the downtown Marriott and both parking facilities. Augusta Riverfront has ties to the management of Morris Communications Co., owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

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dichotomy
33578
Points
dichotomy 06/18/12 - 10:26 pm
6
0
Along with illegalities, will

Along with illegalities, will an audit identify gross stupidity, mismanagement, and lack of oversight? I mean, did anyone from OUR side actually look at any part of this deal before they approved it?

It's like Paul Simon brings these deals to them and sprinkles pixie dust around the room and the commission, the administrator, and our legal "team" all start bobbing their heads up and down like one of those bobblehead dogs in the back window of a car. Now that the pixie dust has worn off all of a sudden they are getting an audit to confirm they are stupid because none of them understood what the deal was when they voted to spend OUR money on it.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 06/19/12 - 12:13 am
5
0
Residents of My Hometown,

Whom do you "little people" think you are to question, much less audit, the activities of your blue-bloodied betters?

Riverman1
84972
Points
Riverman1 06/19/12 - 04:51 am
4
0
I'd go back to David Fry.

I'd go back to David Fry.

seenitB4
88341
Points
seenitB4 06/19/12 - 07:28 am
4
0
He said...

At the subcommittee meeting, Lockett credited an online blog,

comments mean something........:)

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/07/12 - 05:22 am
4
0
The South Side Blood Hounds

It is interesting to note, it is taking South Side commissioners like, Commissioner Guilfoyle, Commissioner Lockett, and Commissioner Mason, to challenge the downtown focus political groups in the true and blunt style known of the South Side.

We need to remember these 3 Commissioners.
They are sticking their necks way out there to get to the truth.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 06/19/12 - 07:53 am
1
0
Where??
Unpublished

Where is the trash tax audit? Why no bids? Why was service cut in half though price remains the same? Answers please???

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 06/19/12 - 08:28 am
0
0
sounds very fishy...how can
Unpublished

sounds very fishy...how can you get the necessary permits to build a parking deck without conductiong the necessary backround checks or to conduct "due dilligence" to insure everything is above board??? sounds like it was a rush job to get the parking deck. there is something fishy about the whole tee center/parking deck situation from the so-called hotel builder from south carolina who stood in front of the commission and told them he has plans to build a hotel only if the tee center was approved , to david fry and his attempt to bribe commissioners, to the commission allowing a management company owned by "billy" to manage the tee center for 250,000 a year, the city adminstrator handing out raises at his discretion to only a few "special" employees, and now this...looks like a lot of "white envelopes" where handed out to those who make decisions for the city. a fish rots from the head down, and something smells fishy concerning augusta/rich cnty government, including the city adminstrator

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/19/12 - 09:29 am
3
0
“If it’s not the best deal,

“If it’s not the best deal, that doesn’t make it illegal,” Mason said.

Very true, but after such a debacle (make no mistake it qualifies) people want answers and transparency, it makes all the sense that a forensic audit should yield information to clarify how poor / savvy a deal is. The goal is to flush out the wolf/wolves. But in addition to that, why wouldn't you want the investigation to be comprehensive, if not exhaustive?

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 06/19/12 - 05:35 pm
1
0
"New" media

What's interesting about this whole TEE Center mess is that if it weren't for "alternative media", specifically, the online blogosphere, NONE of this would have ever seen the light of day.
Not knocking the AC but we know the "paper of record" in Augusta can only delve so far into stories that hit a bit too close to home to those that write the checks....
The dinosaurs who have run roughshod over this city/county for years are finally getting a bit of comeuppance.
All at the hands of a "few" (hundred) disgruntled citizens and activists who have had quite enough thank you.....
To the "Powers That Be".... a bit of advice.......be careful....many eyes are watching you....and they are not happy with what they see......

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/19/12 - 05:34 pm
1
0
Remember?
Unpublished

Do you gus remember when Lockett FIRST called for this and the backlash that he received?

My, my.

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