Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gallop Has Questionable Consulting History with Augusta

Shiloh Community Center has a troubled past
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012
Posted at 4:45pm
Augusta, GA
From Reports

We told you yesterday about Heery International, the company that helps  manage many of Augusta's sales tax projects, is billing the city of Augusta $177.91 per hour for the services of long time political activist Wilbert "Butch" Gallop as a project liaison on the TEE Center and Laney-Walker redevelopment projects.  That prompted us to ask: What exactly does a "project liaison" do? And why is Butch Gallop's services so vital to the projects for Heery Intl to be billing the city for such a handsome sum? What are Gallop's qualifications and track record to be in such demand as a high paid consultant for the city's big ticket sales tax projects?

Well we dug a little deeper and found that Butch Gallop worked as the project coordinator for the troubled Shiloh Community Center renovation in the late 1990s. According to a December 30, 1997 article in The Augusta Chronicle, complaints of shoddy work and over billing prompted then City Administrator Randy Oliver to launch a probe into the Shiloh project. A series of emergency "repairs" and change orders caused the cost of the project to keep escalating, and the facility still didn't meet basic codes.. to the point it couldn't even get insurance.

Randy Oliver directed then Facilities Director, Richard M. Acree to look into the problems. Acree questioned why more than $500,000 in tax money was being poured into renovating what was then  a 60 year old facility in the first place, when an entirely new community center could have been built for less money.

Acree also questioned why the city paid Butch Gallop an $8,000 fee for his services as a project coordinator,    when he could not find "services of any significant value," performed by Mr. Gallop. 

According to the article,  Acree said: "First and foremost, the services provided by (Butch Gallop) are typically performed by the architect and are therefore redundant." 

Acree also suggested there was a conflict on interest between Gallop and the contractor for the project, Awesome Pyramid Contractors, owned by James Sams. As quoted in The Chronicle article, Acree said: "For this consultant to act in the owner's interest when dealing with the architect and contractors, there should be an `arms length' relationship between the parties involved...The fact that the consultant (Gallop) and contractor share the same address, 1012 15th Ave., suggests that this may not be the case."

In this February 8, 2011 WJBF news report, we learn that because of the shoddy design and construction that occurred in the late 1990s, the roof of Shiloh was still falling down. The center was requesting  $55,000 from the city to make emergency repairs, but would likely only be able to get $7,000, at most.

So we have to wonder, based on this kind of track record as a project coordinator on the beleaguered Shiloh Community Center, just how did Butch Gallop get hooked up with Heery International as a high paid "project liaison" on even bigger ticket SPLOST projects like the TEE Center?

Just what services is he providing for the city to be billed $177.91 per hour by Heery, Intl? Providing political spin perhaps? We noticed that Butch Gallop went on TV to defend the change order request on the TEE Center to install more expensive air handlers, when the current ones fully meet state code. You can see that report here: Feb 13 WRDW TEE Center Change Order  Report.

We go back to the words of Richard Acree from 1997....what "services of any significant value," are being provided by Mr. Gallop to justify the hefty per hour billing being charged to the city for his "consulting" services? And based on his track record as a project coordinator, why are taxpayers being billed a penny for his questionable services? We have a feeling that if Randy Oliver and Richard Acree were still in the employ of Augusta instead of Fred Russell, that Gallop would have never been paid by the city for his work as a "project liaison" again after the Shiloh disaster.***

Related Stories:
"Galloping" Away with Taxpayers' Money

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