Special Report: Marble Palace in Full Panic Mode

Mayor Deke: “We’re Not Crooked, Just Stupid.”

Originally posted on CityStink
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Lori Tabb Davis

Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article. Cost Recovery Works is no longer in business, as of December 31, 2020.

We at Augusta Today and CityStink.net have waited for the hullabaloo over last Tuesday’s election to subside to respond to the cry of a panicked Augusta Commission and Mayor to -paraphrasing here – “Let the District Attorney investigate the TEE Center Parking Deck and bring in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation if there is fraud.”

What a total joke. That motion carried 7:1 but it was a plaintive cry for someone, anyone, to rescue the city from its many failures – be they criminal or just incompetence.

You could almost see the fear and desperation in the air. Matt Aitken wailed that Augusta “is becoming a laughingstock” while Joe Jackson moaned to the media about opening “Pandora’s box.

Now we are getting somewhere! We agree with the angst and terror. Attempting to throw the hot potato of the TEE debacle into D.A . Ashley Wright’s lap was never going to work. Mayor Deke Copenhaver instructed that we should “present” our evidence to Ms. Wright. He obviously missed a very key point – The evidence is in his possession and custody. We have gotten where we are with slow, diligent investigation of limited facts based upon the laborious Georgia Open Records Act request process.

Deke, you have the records. Why not throw all of them open to Augusta Today and CityStink.net? We welcome your new found candor, but you just are not sincere, you are desperate to shake us off the trail.

You almost sound as if you are wailing “We are not criminal, we are just Stupid!” You won’t get any argument here.

Augusta Today and CityStink.net contributor Al Gray and I went to Ashley Wright’s office on Friday, July 27 to relieve her of the hot potato and toss it back to you and the commission. Your motion was plain stupid. Of course, we don’t have evidence of criminality – that takes LAW ENFORCEMENT with a capability and DESIRE to investigate. The D.A. doesn’t have the resources. In Augusta these days there is no desire to investigate either, only to engage in endless cover up of very serious issues and FACTS – YOUR FACTS – that we discovered. They include:

    • Failure of City Attorneys to advise the commission of Millions of Dollars of liens on property under the $12 million Reynolds Street Parking Deck until after the structure was built. How did this happen when you have engaged special legal counsel?
    • Failure to execute a partnership agreement governing division of responsibilities with partner Augusta Riverfront, LLC with respect to $50 million in buildings constructed on land owned by the LLC. How did this happen when Fred Russell promised in July of 2009 – three years ago – that these agreements were being “finalized?”
    • Failure to execute management agreements beforehand, with the result that the commission has a figurative gun to its head – execute a bad agreement or else – so that Commissioners Bowles, Guilfoyle, and Lockett are being forced into arduous hours of work to fix what $1500 an hour worth of “experts” have fouled up!
    • Submitting management agreements for the decks that are UNLIMITED BLANK CHECKS, putting the citizens of Augusta at risk of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. We suspect the same is true of the TEE Center itself. Why are there 15 pages of direct incidences where the commercial terms, as Al Gray calls them, provide monetary benefits to Augusta Riverfront that are vastly more lucrative than the rejected Ampco contract? Why don’t YOU demand answers, as a growing number of savvy commissioners are doing?
    • Buying $1.4 million of kitchen equipment without getting commission approval for changing recorded agreements whereby Augusta Riverfront pays for kitchen equipment while Augusta pays for the building and the kitchen space within the TEE center. Why hasn’t the LLC been billed yet?
    • Where is the $1.4 million of kitchen equipment? Contractor billings show it as work complete, when the facts are that the kitchen was an empty space at the time of the billings back at the end of May! Just this week there was a report about the kitchen equipment being installed. Where are Augusta’s assets? Where was it installed as reported through May? Where is contractually-required documentation for stored equipment?
    • Where are the cost details whereby ANYONE can verify that contract limitations on the supplier/subcontractor overhead and profit of 15 % were not exceeded for the kitchen equipment? We extend this challenge to any public accounting firm wishing to help us and to YOU, since you have boasted of the city’s “fine accounting.”
    • Where is the authority to spend Augusta funds refurbishing Augusta Riverfront, LLC’s equipment? Whose equipment is it after the work is done?

You celebrated killing a forensic audit that might have answered some of these questions. You threw it over to a D.A. Who you knew could not and would not do anything.

Mr. Mayor, why are you engaged in this massive cover-up?

To the Commissioners inexplicably remaining in denial – How are you going to remain in this community when the truth comes out – IT WILL – showing you failed in your fiduciary duty to the public?

Is claiming utter stupidity – since criminality is off the table – your final defense?

Augusta is rapidly acquiring a reputation as the most CORRUPT city in Georgia. Your actions in refusing to consider the evidence at hand are adding fuel to the fire.***

I agree with Commissioner Aitken that our government is a laughingstock.

You and the Russell Administration are in full panic mode. Some commissioners are now wide awake and the rest have to be getting antsy.

We will not be dissuaded by your cover up.***

Stay tuned. More to come.

Lori Davis

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