The ArrowFlinger Al Gray
Originally posted by CityStink
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray, was President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.
Below is the text of the remarks by Al Gray at yesterday’s Augusta Commission meeting. We will have video of both Al Gray and Lori Davis’ remarks soon.
Mayor Copenhaver and Gentlemen of the Commission, thank you for allowing me to speak tonight.
Mr. Mayor, I like you have always loved the economic development that comes with mega projects, having served for a quarter century on manufacturing sites from California, Washington, Florida, to Pennsylvania. I say this to offer that my focus is not anti-development, just anti irresponsible spending and fraud.
I rise before you tonight to speak in opposition to two agreements for the conference center and Reynolds Street Parking Deck. This comes from having spent years in crisis management mode for companies whose projects went horribly wrong, but it comes even more from Augusta experiences. I once proposed doing a cost recovery review to administrator Randy Oliver that might have reformed Augusta. He was interested, but then he hit a patch of turbulence and concluded it wasn’t possible in Augusta – the influence of the connected was too great. I went on to gain new corporate clients, just not in Augusta.
The saga of the TEE Center over the last 5 years has been a twisting, turning affair from its start. The last chapter should not be written tonight. The irregularities, the failures, and evidence which are legion scream, “STOP!”
We in the 12 counties destined to be coupled with you by the TSPLOST are a watching, nervous, and perhaps unwilling bride. We see $50 million in buildings built on land you don’t own, undisclosed liens of various description, land to be donated turned into air, a bribery trial involving this very project, controversy going back to 1998 with this partnership, and finally that you find yourselves hostages tonight to threats of those liens. These things pose a dire warning for associating ourselves with you.
While these are strong words they are directed in a sense of hope, a profound desire to make this the night that everyone of you can recall with enormous pride, the night 10 men and a mayor who have feuded relentlessly came together and started accomplishing that which predecessors of the last 40 years could not. I would be proud to help.
First we have serious issues to address. Gentlemen, you simply cannot ratify this proposal tonight, offered under duress and a myriad of questions, without the most serious of consequences for this community. This outpouring of the people bears witness to that. Yes, the building is built and no, no one wants this mess during the Masters, but you must stop and make sure that these people are protected by the strongest of audit rights, open record access to, and an immediate review of the past, current, and future operations under the management of these private partners.
I cannot imagine the consequences if you proceed. I would not want to be in your shoes should you vote, “Yes.”
You see, if this body in its wisdom does not embrace a comprehensive program of reform, sound financial controls, and contract enforcement, beginning tonight, the sledgehammer blows from revelations of stunning irresponsibility, indeed, fraud will rip apart this community. I do not refer to the transaction currently at issue, but others that we have identified throughout this government in recent months. Mr. Brigham was concerned about spending $30,000 on an audit. Well, we can get that much back with 2 phone calls. There might be millions salvageable, based upon my preliminary review.
Mr. Jackson and others seem to have bought the administrator’s assurances that there is security in the work of $500 an hour bond attorneys. Is there? In Jefferson County Alabama the county administrator and 4 county commissioners are now in the penitentiary because of the spawn of bond attorneys. There is a national scandal unfolding around the municipal bond market. It pays to keep up with these trends, lest you become the next victims.
Several of the people in this room may have made some the biggest misjudgments or miscalculations of their lives. You have a vote to make. I hope it is not one in which you join them.***