Wednesday Feb. 15, 2012
*updated at 3:45pm
We were watching WRDW’s Chris Thomas on the latest Marriott hotel fiasco, a TEE Center change order of $396,000, when a familiar face appeared defending the hotel’s pricey standards that Augusta is being asked to fund. It was long-time Augusta political activist and Charles Walker acolyte, Wilbert “Butch” Gallop. Mr. Gallop was identified as a “project liaison,” whatever that is.
At last count there were three oversight and management service companies, TVS Design, Heery International, and R.W. Allen, charging well over $4 million to manage the TEE Center and Reynolds Street Parking Deck projects. That’s a lot of overhead! Why are so many needed to administer these trouble-plagued jobs? Why is it so costly?
One reason is that Augusta is being charged $177.91 per hour for Butch Gallop’s services by program Manager Heery International for his work as “community liaison.”
We have a hint of what Butch Gallop’s “liaison” work for Heery International might entail from a June 17, 2009 article in the Augusta Chronicle by Johnny Edwards. In this article we learned that Gallop essentially worked as a “community organizer” to help drive out the vote by canvassing neighborhoods and supposedly dispelling “misinformation” to pass the SPLOST VI. Gallop worked alongside Janie Peel, Brenda Durandt, and Tricia Hughes on the “Yes to SPLOST VI” campaign.
Butch Gallop is quoted in the article: “The team that was put together — Brenda Durant, Janie Peel and Tricia Hughes — put something together to really educate the community… The naysayers always have something negative to say, but they didn’t know why they were negative. All they kept talking about was pork-barrel projects.”
All this while he was on the payroll of Heery International, which manages Augusta’s sales tax projects. So does that mean taxpayers are indirectly paying Butch Gallop to be a lobbyist and community organizer to help push thru these SPLOSTs, which greatly benefit Heery International? It sure appears that way.
Casting the net beyond the TEE Center and Deck projects we found Butch Gallop in the pay of ESG Operations, Inc., operator of the Messerly Waste Water Treatment Plant, at the rate of $2,500.00 per month. While whether Gallop was charged as a reimbursable cost under the waste water treatment plant contract or is absorbed in the overhead cost of the contractor’s services is immaterial. Augusta paid.
Just how many other Augusta contractors feel compelled to engage Butch Gallop’s services? What is going on here?
What exactly does a “liaison” do?
In these times of tough budget decisions, employee pay and benefit reductions, and aggressive cost-cutting, how will city leaders defend this galloping cost?
Augusta is squandering millions of dollars, while its commissioners dawdle and play the most unfortunate of political games. Stay tuned.***