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Commissioners want more information on construction manager's contract

Commission could delay contract vote

Monday, June 3, 2013 10:16 PM
Last updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013 1:22 AM
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Several Augusta Commission members say they want more information about the city’s relationship with Heery International and its subconsultants before a vote scheduled today to extend its decade-old contract for two more years.

The city has paid Heery and its subconsultants about $9.5 million in fees over the past 10 years, with billing rates for some Heery personnel topping $200 an hour, to manage city construction projects funded by sales taxes. The contract provides for 4 percent rate increases each year.

A handful of ongoing construction projects isn’t a good enough reason to grant Heery an automatic extension, Commissioner Mary Davis said.

“I’m not comfortable about approving anything tomorrow,” Davis, who took office in January, said Monday. “There’s a history, of course, that I haven’t been involved in. But I need some more answers.”

Heery supplied several commissioners and school board members with tickets to Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves games and paid for at least two commissioners to engage with constituents at breakfasts and other events, in hopes of getting them re-elected.

The unreported gifts violate the same ethics ordinance that ensnared three commissioners earlier this year for doing business under city contracts. The ordinance prohibits directly accepting gifts from “lobbyists, vendors or any other person seeking to influence official action” and requires gifts accepted by a commissioner on behalf of the city to be reported by the vendor and the recipient to the clerk of commission.

City Clerk Lena Bonner confirmed Mon­day that no one had ever filed a report about such a gift with the clerk’s office.

Commissioner Donnie Smith said he’ll make a motion today to refer the Heery renewal back to a commission committee for further study because of the questions.

He said a 4 p.m. meeting of the city’s ethics subcommittee might not be a good time to examine any attempts at influence because voting members are among those who received Heery gifts.

Commissioner Joe Jackson, who admitted accepting two Braves game tickets from Heery not long after he was elected, questioned Heery’s claim that it saves the city money on construction projects.

“It’s kind of like looking at the transit budget,” Jackson said. “Nobody can tell if you are saving anything.”

He said a “good cost estimator” would “have it down to the dead cost” rather than estimate a cost and report back on savings later.

“If I had to vote tomorrow to do away with it and it’s going to save the taxpayers’ money, I’d do it,” Jackson said.

Commissioner Bill Lock­ett, who helped lead the effort to censure three commissioners for ethics violations, did not respond to a phone call Monday. In a recent interview, he said the Heery contract was one he wasn’t concerned about.

“That’s something we don’t have involvement in,” said Lock­ett, who reported a $1,000 campaign contribution from Heery in November despite being unopposed for re-election.

Richmond County school board member Jack Padgett said that Lockett had invited him to lunch at Red Lobster with Heery officials shortly after Lockett was first elected but that that was the only contact Padgett had with the firm. The school system uses another company to manage its sales-tax projects.

Commissioner Wayne Guil­foyle, a flooring contractor, said he’d “never had the luxury” of working under a guaranteed maximum price contract, which allows construction costs to fluctuate so long as they don’t exceed the maximum.

He said the discussion about Heery needed to be about costs.

“I will not put it on consent,” he said of the scheduled vote today. “I think more discussion has to be done, (being) conscious that Heery’s already started. We have to look out for the taxpayers on that one.”

Commissioner Marion Wil­liams, who served on the commission when Heery came aboard, said he still has questions about the group’s evolving role.

Gallop and Associates’ Butch Gallop was initially presented to serve as a city liaison with minority contractors, but Heery hasn’t provided any data on the involvement of women or minorities in city construction projects.

If Gallop’s role is now merely to involve local businesses in construction contracts, “the city can do that,” said Williams, who denied receiving any sports tickets or other favors from Heery.

“They probably know I don’t like sports,” he said.

Comments (18) Add comment
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southern2
5426
Points
southern2 06/04/13 - 04:45 am
0
0
*

*

Riverman1
79416
Points
Riverman1 06/04/13 - 04:45 am
5
1
Same Old Method

Let's see how this goes. Take a big cut of all public construction work going on in the county. Keep everyone in line through various measures. Grease the politicians. It's an old game with a new name....Heery.

nocnoc
38478
Points
nocnoc 06/04/13 - 06:32 am
3
1
If Nothing else the Hourly wages alone need review.

Yes, it is a Political Hot Potato but we are discussing taxpayer money. With residents seeing services cut or reduced and new taxes always being proposed, many have come to feel if even a dime is wasted it is an outrage.

This company's staff got COLA's and raises, even while ARC Government laid off, cut hours and stopped the COLA's for a time.

Even Plant Vogtle does not pay these Caviar wages, so why are the ARC Taxpayers doing it?
http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Southern-Company-Salaries-E607.htm

This is a Good Old Boy contract that has for too long been in place, milking the taxpayers it needs to be RFP'd again.

An RFP would at the least allow us to see what other companies would purpose to perform the services and could be used to re-write the contract costs and Level of Work or SOW.

To avoid the normal political in-fighting seen during any award, I would suggest all sides get together NOW and agree on the rules.

It is an election year and the Taxpayers DO NOT need show boating for votes on such a large contract. In other words the RFP should be awarded based on needs, not politics.

Brad Owens
4102
Points
Brad Owens 06/04/13 - 07:10 am
5
1
Heery needs to go..

I am pleased to see that there are some commissioners who actually want to get some facts before they vote to renew this.

I also would like to know exactly what Butch Gallop does to receive tax money at $200 an hour. I mean EXACTLY what he does.

How about we take a look at; Invoices, statements of work, a copy of his contract, performance evaluations, expenses summaries and detailed expense reports.

Why, because we pay for all of that I just listed.

Brad

just an opinion
2357
Points
just an opinion 06/04/13 - 07:47 am
4
1
Butch Gallop

Brad is right! Butch the party is over for you! Your last answer that you donate to local charities with some of the money paid doesn't justify your billing record and services NOT provided. Please commissioners, STOP this nonsense.

Brad Owens
4102
Points
Brad Owens 06/04/13 - 08:03 am
5
1
And let me just add this...

From all appearances, this seems to have been a political "hook-up" job that really serves no purpose at all.

He is a "Liaison with minority contractors?" What does that even mean? Butch Gallop ran a lot of Senator Charles Walkers programs and given the fact that they other end of this useless political patronage job is a State Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany (who does what? Nobody knows I bet) I smell a rotten political idea born in Atlanta under the Gold Dome if you get my drift.

This reminds me of the type of corruption I saw in West Africa all the time. Want to do business there? You gotta pay and provide jobs for all the useless political hacks they send your way.

America is doomed unless we stand up and stop this Kleptocracy and the fight starts here in Augusta.

I bet more people know Kim Kardashian's due date than anything remotely affecting their own lives like being robbed legally through contracts like this.

Brad

justthefacts
20367
Points
justthefacts 06/04/13 - 08:17 am
2
0
What?

Kim's pregnant?

nocnoc
38478
Points
nocnoc 06/04/13 - 08:25 am
1
1
NOC NOC I am innocent

NOC NOC I am innocent
I did NOT NOC UP Kim Kardashian.

noway jose
11
Points
noway jose 06/04/13 - 08:58 am
2
1
Need New Blood

I think 10 - 12 years running a government's program is long enough. It breeds this type of shenanigans. Time to rebid and re-scope, have as much local participation as possible rather than send the money to Atlanta and Albany. We pay the tax, our local firms should be heavily involved. No need to pay for employees of Heery traveling in from other places.

seenitB4
81464
Points
seenitB4 06/04/13 - 09:01 am
2
1
Who did...

Wondering myself.....who is babys daddy....dunno....but yall are right---more known about HER than where is the money going!!!

Little Lamb
43831
Points
Little Lamb 06/04/13 - 09:40 am
1
0
Exponential

This formula is unsustainable:

The contract provides for 4 percent rate increases each year.

The payments increase at an exponential rate. The four percent is compounded each year. It gets bigger and bigger, for those of you in Rio Linda. Pretty soon, you're talking real money.

Riverman1
79416
Points
Riverman1 06/04/13 - 10:51 am
3
0
Good Analogy

Brad said referring to Augusta, "This reminds me of the type of corruption I saw in West Africa all the time."

Good analogy.

Riverman1
79416
Points
Riverman1 06/04/13 - 11:02 am
1
0
Bizarre

Let's examine exactly how this works once again. County money is paid to Heery which contributes to candidates, gives them gifts and advertizes for the public to vote the way those same commissioners desire. An opposing, tax paying, candidate is actually contributing to those he may run against and their causes. Bizarre.

dichotomy
30619
Points
dichotomy 06/04/13 - 11:13 am
2
0
Strange that Lockett and

Strange that Lockett and Williams aren't calling for ethics violations.

And Lockett....oh yeh......he gets all warped out of shape because the city bought a few keys from a commissioner's business but he "is not concerned" about this multi-million dollar contract and the fact that commissioners are taking skybox seat tickets and campaign contributions from the contractor.

I know the contract itself is a more important issue than the ethics of taking gifts and campaign money, but this side issue of commissioners being cozy with people seeking OUR money is indicative of why EVERYTHING that Augusta contracts for, especially GARBAGE SERVICE, costs us WAY too much.

GnipGnop
11523
Points
GnipGnop 06/04/13 - 11:21 am
2
0
If they are not hollering...

it means they are probably on the list too!!!

Little Lamb
43831
Points
Little Lamb 06/04/13 - 11:52 am
2
0
Ethics

This is a good chance for Grady, Wayne, and Shoeless Joe to get back at Chipmunk, Lockbox, and Darlin’ Corey for not reporting the gifts from Heery and Heery's subcontractors.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/04/13 - 02:30 pm
3
0
I'd like to say "Gasp!" or

I'd like to say "Gasp!" or "ACK!!!", but this kind of ish has been exposed repeatedly and acknowledged more, and goes on unknowingly even MORE. So yeah, wow, ethics, rancid corruption, ... meh

nocnoc
38478
Points
nocnoc 06/04/13 - 09:03 pm
0
0
How Heery International

How Heery International stacks up.

Press Releases:

The Heery-Atlanta program management group has participated in several ribbon cutting ceremonies over the past few months for its long-time client,Augusta-Richmond County , Ga. The Reynolds Street Parking Deck, the Webster Detention Center, and the County Judicial Center were completed on time and under budget. Well was it?

The Growing List of Other Governments having problems with Heery International

http://ga.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.20110131_0000... In May 2010, the DeKalb County District Attorney indicted multiple DCSD officials on public corruption felony charges related to DCSD's school construction program.

http://www.atlawblog.com/2012/09/judge-won%E2%80%99t-dismiss-heery-defen...
Judge won’t dismiss Heery defendants 4:27 pm, September 13th, 2012
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger has rejected an effort to dismiss racketeering claims against 10 people who worked for Heery International Inc. on disputed public school construction projects.
Seeliger denied the Heery defendants’ motion for summary judgment after a two and a half hour hearing Wednesday.
The DeKalb County School District is seeking about $120 million from Heery for what it says were fraudulent billings on school building and renovation projects that began in 1997.

Heery’s attorneys had argued that the five-year statute of limitations for racketeering should have barred the DeKalb County School District’s claims against the individual defendants because education officials knew of Heery’s billing practices as early as 1998, but they didn’t file a complaint against the individual defendants until April 2011.

http://www.courts.state.md.us/opinions/coa/2004/15a04.pdf
Circuit Court for Montgomery County Case # 245047
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND
September Term, 2004
HEERY INTERNATIONAL, INC., et al.
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY
,MARYLAND, et al.

http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=20041838862A2d976_11826.xml&...
In a letter dated 17 July 2003, the County made a formal demand on Heery International and HOK for payment in the amounts of $2,450,959 and $3,804,163, respectively. These amounts represented damages the County allegedly suffered as a result of lost productivity and delay caused by Heery International and HOK's mismanagement of the trade contractors. The letter also demanded that Heery International and HOK, pursuant to provisions in their respective contracts with the County, provide a legal defense and indemnify the County with regard to claims totaling over $13 million lodged by some of the trade contractors.1 Moreover, the letter demanded an additional $915,168 for the actual legal costs incurred by the County, up to that point, in defense of the trade contractors' claims.

http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=20041838862A2d976_11826.xml&...

http://www.saha.org/public%20housing/sahadevelopments/Mirasol/Lawsuit/br...

UPDATE: The San Antonio Housing Authority Board of Commissioners on Monday voted to accept the settlement in the lawsuit against home builder KB Home, developer Magi Realty and project manager Heery International, signifying the end of litigation between the parties.

See: Heery International Lawsuit - San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA)

http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuits/miller-act/north-carolina-eastern-dis...

Plaintiff: Watco Mechanical Constructors Corporation
Defendant: Heery International, Inc. , Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland and Federal Insurance Company
Cause: Miller Act
Court: North Carolina Eastern District Court

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/dekalbs-lawsuit-tab-155-million-and-c...
DeKalb's lawsuit tab: $15.5 million and climbing
Updated: 12:56 p.m. Monday, March 7, 2011 | Posted: 4:42 a.m. Monday, March 7, 2011 By Megan Matteucci - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
DeKalb County Schools’ lawyers insist they will win back the $15.5 million taxpayers have spent in legal fees preparing for a trial against the giant construction firm Heery International, along with millions of dollars more.

In the four years since the school system filed the $100 million lawsuit, the $15.5 million in attorney fees would have paid the salaries of about 300 teachers for a year or 221,400 textbooks.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News found that several public bodies across the country, including school systems and local governments in Arizona, Massachusetts, Texas and Maryland, have made similar claims against Heery, but none of those governments won in court. Some entered into secret settlements and some simply lost. DeKalb school leaders say their case will be different.

There is more, as this is Google pages 1-3 of 10 using "Heery International Lawsuits" as a search filter.

Now someone downtown please explain to me again with a straight face, why we need this company managing ARC Projects at Premium Prices?

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