Friday, August 31, 2012

The Cabbage Patch is at a Crossroads

Friday, August 31, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider

It looks like the city is back to square one with the municipal golf course, affectionately known as The Cabbage Patch. The relationship with Scottish-based investor Brian Hendry went rotten after 5 months of non-payment of rent and the course seems to be in worse condition  today then when he took it over. Hendry seemed to have just given up on the course after he was unsuccessful in getting the city to release $300,000 in SPLOST money for course improvements.

It is still not quite clear why it took 5 months of non-payment of rent for the city to sever its ties with Hendry, but now a local group headed by three brothers has tentatively taken over Hendry's lease with the city; however, they are saying if they do not get a commitment from the city to invest in capital improvements at the course they will also pull out.

The Haunting of Healthmaster
But one of the principal business partners in this local group  has a rather dubious past. Dennis J Kelly, who is the registered agent for the newly formed The Golf Course at Augusta LLC, is also a convicted felon. Kelly was one of the central figures in one of the largest Medicare fraud scandals in Georgia history as vice president of Healthmaster, Inc, an Augusta-based company that provided in-home healthcare services. In 1995, Kelly was convicted on 102 felony counts including fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. He was sentenced to 12 and a half years in federal prison.

A CPA and a chief financial officer for Healthmaster, Kelly helped to defraud Medicare of over $1.7 million. He did this in part by setting up a dummy workers compensation fund and diverted the money to a bank account in the Cayman Islands, collecting premiums but providing no coverage. Medicare was left paying off the claims of injured workers. Kelly, along with his co-defendants David Suba and Jeanette G Garrison, used the Cayman Islands  account as a personal slush fund. The trio also billed Medicare for illegal campaign contributions to Democratic Party candidates. This was done by ordering Healthmaster employees to make contributions to chosen democratic candidates -- after which they were reimbursed in the form of bonuses on their next paycheck. The bonuses were then billed to Medicare.

Kelly was also convicted on charges of embezzling money from Healthmaster accounts, which he used partly to purchase a vacation property in South Carolina.

Even though the convictions took place 17 years ago, some  people are questioning whether it is a good idea for the city to enter into any business relationship -- including renting property-- with someone with such a laundry list of felony convictions -- especially when it involved such a well thought out scheme to defraud the government of more than $1.7 million. How significant of a role will Dennis Kelly have in this new company formed with his brothers to manage The Patch? Will he be entrusted with handling the company's finances like he did with Healthmaster? How will his criminal past impact the ability to sell new memberships at the golf club? Would members worry that their membership fees might end up in an untouchable account in the Cayman Islands?  Would the city be liable if a repeat of the Healthmaster scandal occurred at The Patch? Would city taxpayers be left paying out claims from club members like Medicare? These are reasonable questions to ask with someone like Dennis J Kelly taking on such a prominent role in this new company seeking to run the city's golf course.

But some commissioners do not seem to have a problem with Kelly's criminal history. When asked about it by WJBF News yesterday, commissioner Joe Jackson said, "I think you can put that in the past, you know. You've served your time, paid it back to society, you've cleared yourself. I don't foresee a problem.”

However, it's not as though we are talking about unpaid parking tickets or even a DUI conviction here -- we are talking about 102 federal felony convictions for fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. For all of the people saying to let bygones be bygones we somehow wonder if they would have the same attitude if it were former state Senator Charles Walker Sr. who was wanting to run the municipal golf course after being released from federal prison and use it for hosting a charity golf tournament? Walker was convicted in 2005 on over 100 federal counts including tax evasion, mail fraud and conspiracy that included charges of embezzling proceeds from a charity football tournament he helped  organize.

Why Should the City Own a Golf Course Anyway?
The bigger question though beyond the criminal past of Dennis J Kelly is.. why should the city of Augusta even own a golf course in the first place? 

Under city management, The Patch was hemorrhaging nearly $300,000 from the general  fund annually. The entire point of putting the course under private management was to relieve taxpayers from having to funnel more money into what has essentially become a money-pit. When commissioners voted to lease The Patch out to Scottish investor Brian Hendry, it came with the stipulation that the course came "as-is". The  agreement is what you would characterize as a triple net lease, which is common in business leases, where the lessee assumes the responsibilty for maintainence and capital improvements to the property in exchange for lower rent -- and indeed the lessees of The Patch are getting the property for only $1,000 a month.

But now some commissioners and the editorial staff of the Augusta Chronicle want $300,000 of SPLOST money to be put into The Patch under the stewardship of The Kellys. This was denied to Brian Hendry earlier this year, when he asked for the SPLOST funds after being tipped off about them from former Parks and Recreation director Tom Beck.

Indeed, $300,000 was earmarked for The Patch in the 2009 SPLOST,  and that is being used as justification by some people that the will of the public is behind the municipal golf course. However, that 2009 SPLOST referendum had a total voter turnout of a whopping 8.71%, hardly a mandate. And the language regarding the $300,000 for The Patch was buried under all of the fine print with other pet projects that are typically included as riders on these SPLOST referenda. Also, the magnitude of the financial mess at  The Patch was not completely known to voters back in 2009. Would the voters today still want that money going into this golf course? Also, the commission redirects SPLOST funds all of the time when circumstances change. Would there not be a better use for that money today instead of sinking it into a money-pit golf course? And is it fair for the commission to put $300,000 into the course under the local management group when this offer was not made to Hendry?

But to listen to the editorial writers at The Augusta Chronicle, the taxpayers of Augusta are somehow obligated to sinking more money into The Patch because of the city's association with golf and The Masters. Really? Let's be honest here, The Patch is a pretty poor excuse for a golf course -- in fact it's rather embarrasing for the home of The Masters-- but that doesn't mean the taxpayers should throw more good money after bad.

And it's not as though Augusta is hurting for golf courses. There are many fine examples of privately-run golf courses in the metro area that are open to the public with prices that the average Joe can afford. Pointe South Golf Club in South Augusta has greens fees as cheap as $17 for 18 holes -- and that's the price for non members.  The course is in far better condition than The Patch and has yearly memberships that are affordable for the average Augustan.

The private sector is already filling this need -- so why does the city of Augusta need to own a golf course? Wouldn't the city just be better off washing its hands of this money-pit? It was announced the other day that the city of Augusta is placing 15 properties on the market including the old library on Greene Street and a Fire Station on Reynolds Street. So why not add The Patch to that list? It's a large tract of land in a convenient and desirable location near the tony residential neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Summerville -- certainly it could fetch several million dollars for the city. If the Kellys or any other group of investors wanted to step forward and purchase The Patch at fair market value and keep it running as a golf course, then they would be more then welcomed to do so, and the added bonus is that it would put the property back on the tax rolls, which would probably net the city more per year than the $1,000 monthly rent would and without the liability of the city being responsible for maintenance and capital improvements.

Or, perhaps The Augusta National Golf Club would find The Patch an attractive property to develop into a practice course with hospitality suites. Perhaps they could use it for developing a youth golf camp as an extension of First TEE. They certainly have the money, so why not ask them if they are interested in the property?

It's proximity to the ASU athletic complex would make it a natural location for expansion of the new consolidated university. With the Georgia Board of Regents pledging over $150 million toward the new university, they certainly would have the money to buy the property. Why not ask if they would be interested in it?

But even if the city wants to keep the property, would it not be more lucrative to use it for expansion of neighboring Daniel Field airport? Couldn't the city make more on rental fees from privately owned aircraft than from the $1,000 a month  rent on  a golf course?

But the question remains.. why should the city own a golf course? Should it also own a bowling alley -- a skating rink -- a Putt Putt? All have their die-hard fans and patrons -- and like golf courses, the  private sector is meeting their demand.  So instead of the half-hearted attempt to privatize The Patch by simply leasing it out, why not go all the way and sell it?

Like the fad dolls from the early 1980s perhaps this Cabbage Patch is also  past its prime. But those Cabbage Patch kids from the '80s still have their fans of collectors who will pay top dollar at auctions for the homely looking dolls. Well maybe the city can fetch  more green by selling its homely little golf course to its die-hard fans who still have a sentimental affection for it. Perhaps it's time the city of Augusta had a yard sale and unloaded some extra cabbage.  ***

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest Column: Augusta -- the Next Detroit?

Thursday, August 30, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Bob Munger

In 1901 Ransom Olds created the world’s first auto assembly line in Detroit. By 1902, they'd built 425 Olds Curbed Dash vehicles. The 4.5HP internal combustion “horseless carriages” sold for $650, which is equivalent to roughly $18,000 in today’s dollars.

In 1903, Detroit’s Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Company, soon to be followed by other auto pioneers like William Durant, the Dodge Brothers and Walter Chrysler.  

The Model T, introduced in 1908, was Ford’s homerun, and revolutionized the American transportation system. Mass production brought the price of the 20 HP “Tin Lizzy” down to $575 by 1912, equivalent to $13,500 in today’s dollars. In 1914, 300,000 Model T’s were produced.  By 1920 production had skyrocketed and the cost had dropped to $350, roughly $4000 in today’s dollars.

This is the real story behind the widespread adoption of the automobile in Twentieth Century American society. Yet today, a new, entry-level compact car would likely cost 4 or 5 times as much. At a time of economic crisis, even a used one in good condition would cost twice as much as the Model T did in its heyday.

Today, Detroit is not even a shadow of its former glory. Huge sections of its downtown lie vacant and in ruin. Dozens of former auto plants have long been shuttered, and tens of millions of Americans can no longer afford their products. Both Chrysler and GM have been rescued from bankruptcy by Uncle Sam. To add insult to injury, the American public is becoming increasingly hostile towards the negative impacts of autos, including air pollution, suburban sprawl, global warming and hollowed-out downtowns.

This view is especially true of the younger generation. “A car is a symbol of freedom,” said Alexander Edwards, president of the automotive division of Strategic Vision Inc., a San Diego-based consumer-research firm. “But unlike previous years, there are many different ways that a Gen Y person can capture that freedom.” Ways like computers, smartphones and I-pads. 

At stake is whether the current, modest recovery in vehicle sales is restrained by Gen Y. U.S. sales of cars and light trucks rose 14 percent to 8.43 million in the first seven months of 2012 and are on pace to total more than 14 million for 2012. That would be the best year since 2007. Yet that lags the annual average of 16.8 million from 2000 through 2007. 

A combination of lower wages for the youngest workers and the generation’s tendency to favor gadgets over cars may cap average U.S. auto sales at about 15 million annually, according to Dan Luria, a labor economist at Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center in Plymouth, Michigan. 

This anti-auto trend is reinforced by the Gen Y preference for living in urban environments. The new live/work/play paradigm is not limited to Gen Y, either. Empty nesters are also kicking the tires, and more are buying into this new lifestyle

Turning back to Augusta, what do we have in common with Detroit, other than a dilapidated  waterfront and downtown? 

Maybe quite a bit, if you think about our low speed electric vehicle industry, in terms of the early Twentieth Century auto industry of Detroit. Low speed electric vehicles (LSEV) are now produced and sold at price points which rival that of Henry Ford’s Model T, as it began to hit its mass production stride.  

Of course, nobody should confuse them with luxurious highway-rated vehicles, but millions of Americans who live in these live/work/play environments should be asking themselves: “Are highway-type vehicles like strolling across the street in Alpine hiking boots?  Why bother with the expense, when flip flops work just fine?  Why not rent your highway car only when really needed?

The fact is that low speed electric vehicles look even better than conventional, internal combustion cars when you consider the following:

1. Costs to buy LSEV’s are a faction of typical cars.
2. Costs to refuel are a fraction of typical cars.
3. Costs to insure and finance are a fraction of typical cars.
4. Costs to maintain are less than typical cars.
5. At least 80% of every dollar you spend on gasoline not only leaves your pocket, but also leaves your               community.

Add them all together and you’re looking at thousands of dollars saved each year. Multiply that by a few hundred vehicles and the community economic benefit is in the millions of dollars --- millions of dollars in an era when money is hard to find, and debt loads are crushing. 

Finally, there are the environmental and health costs, which don’t usually factor into the equation, but should. Internal combustion automobiles pollute our air, causing respiratory-related healthcare costs (including missed work and school). They also release greenhouse gasses which contribute to global warming, at the rate of 19 pounds of carbon dioxide per each gallon of gas burned.

We at the Augusta Greenway Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, seek to foster a vision of a smarter way to live and travel, by working with government and industry to make Augusta a model city for sustainable transportation, featuring our own low speed electric vehicles.

The final benefit for Augusta is a big one that we should all appreciate: More jobs for our local industry.**
Bob Munger*
                     *Munger is President, Augusta Greenway Alliance, Inc.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Andy Cheek: Saving Augusta's Most Important Public Work

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Augusta, GA

In the 1830s Augusta found itself a dying town. The fur trade was drying up and America was moving west. The South was largely farm and plantation country. Virtually all heavy industry was found north of the Mason Dixon Line. Peter Gregg, having traveled north began to wonder why the South couldn’t produce its own goods here. His thesis on industrializing the South was picked up by Henry Cummings and the idea of the Augusta Canal was born. 

Gregg, already under construction of his Graniteville project,  agreed to oversee the construction of the Augusta project. While Gregg’s, Horse Creek, and the Augusta Canal all share a common history, it is the Augusta Canal that stands alone as the nation’s oldest water way still being used for the purpose it was designed: Industry.  The concept and execution of the building of the canal and the over 40 industries that utilized its hydro power saved Augusta and many southerners from a life of poverty and starvation.

Today the canal is over 150 years old as are many of its parts. During the past 50 years the canal has been a political football. While at one time prior to the 1950s of  having a dedicated crew to maintain it. the canal's usefulness has become less and less important to the city with some political leaders calling for draining it or running rail lines down its bed. Recent reconstruction has prevented failure north of the city pumping station. During recent draining many areas were further inspected and repaired.

Both as a commissioner and citizen I continue to be amazed at the level of institutional neglect our most important and historic public work receives. In 2002 the ARC EMA dive team under took the first study of the structural integrity of the northern reaches of the canal. The area above the city pumping station hadn’t been drained in over 50 years. A second study was conducted by the team from the head gates to the pumping station to further document the undercutting that was occurring and areas in need of repair. Finally, the Canal Authority commissioned an engineering study that not only confirmed the first two studies, which by the way cost the city lunch for the team, but raised serious concerns about particular areas that were leaking through to the river and were deemed in need of immediate attention.  Most of these areas were repaired, while the upper level was drained for expansion of the pumping station. The last and most important element to be examined was the Diversion Dam. This is the structure that both raises the level of the river several feet and diverts it into the canal. Without it there is no canal.

Having played there as a teenager and an adult, my sons and I questioned the reports offered by the engineers that were tasked with inspecting the structure and took a look for ourselves. Our findings were alarming. 

This prompted a call once again to members of the ARC EMA dive team. Both sides of the structure were inspected. The upstream side is fairly well protected by silt. The lower side is showing its age. The structure is roughly a flattened pyramid with a 4 foot slightly sloping flat top. The components are mostly hand cut granite blocks. These collapses are where the dam bends toward Carolina as much as 25% of the base blocks have been scoured away. Evidence of under flowing is also shown in both pictures and a formal report was made to the commission since the director of the canal authority said it was a city utilities problem. To put it plainly -- the structure has holes in it. 

Some small seepage areas and some large enough to push a 1 foot in diameter PVC pipe all the way through.  This collapse is twice as large today.

Yes there is a fish ladder. It’s the first buttress type structure you see as you look out over the dam toward Carolina. It’s leaking and concrete has eroded away from the dam. It still works and many of the canal authority members were not even  aware of its existence.   Based on the materials it is made of, this seems to be a later addition to the structure.

The first large structure is one of 4 buttresses used for removable stop logs. Yes there is 100 year old wood in some of the gates. While gates 2, 3, and 4 are structurally sound, the first is on the verge of collapse. 

Watching this grand old structure age and now slowly break down and hemorrhage through many cracks and large breaches is heart breaking. There are two major areas where water is either flowing under or through the dam.

The Augusta Canal is one of the last intact historical works in our city. It helped industrialize the South and its ‘many mills literally kept many southerners from starving to death. After four separate inspections and one half hearted repair attempt, the conditions have worsened. While words cannot fully express my concerns, the photos of the collapsed areas speak volumes. The Augusta Canal Authority and the city utilities department continue to shirk their responsibilities in repairing this landmark before it fails and is declared unsafe. Zell Engineering and its representatives have never, in the history of my involvement, acknowledged any problems.

If the diversion dam disintegrates, we will lose the canal and the ability to hydraulically pump over 20 million gallons of water to the Highland Park filtration plant, and we will  have to reconstruct the diversion dam under 2012 dam safety criteria. This will take years and cost $millions, and that would be a dam shame.*** 
----Andy Cheek*
*Cheek is a former Augusta Commissioner who represented District 6 from 2000 to 2007

** The Following videos were taken on a recent trip to the diversion dam**

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Analyzing the Aftermath of the Parking Deck Saga

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider

After  the more than nine month long ordeal over the Reynolds Street Parking deck debacle, yesterday's events at the Marble Palace that resulted in the approval of  the long beleaguered parking management contract may have seemed rather anti-climatic.Indeed, we got wind that approval of the contract was imminent -- if certain conditions were met. Key to passing the agreement was the inclusion of safeguards for the city that specifically stated in clear language that Augusta Riverfront LLC (ARLLC) could not bill the city for their overhead expenses. Previous proposals were riddled with loopholes that ARLLC could exploit, amounting to a blank check from the taxpayers.

Also, included in yesterday's contract was a clause giving the city the right to audit ARLLC's books to verify their compliance. This was a crucial safeguard for the city and one that ARLLC's lawyers were fighting all the way up until the final hours leading up to yesterday's vote, but in the end they yielded and agreed to include the rights to audit.

Wayne Says Sell It!
Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle (dist 8) deserves a large amount of the credit for these safeguards being included in the final contract. We understand that the lawyers were trying to twist Guilfoyle's arm all the way up to the final hours to get him to bend under the pressure and approve the deal without these key safeguards, but the district 8 commissioner would not budge. He stood his ground and insisted that these conditions be met or his vote would be NO. Guilfoyle added the stipulations and to the agreement in his motion yesterday to approve the contract.

The citizens of of District 8 in South Richmond County can feel confident that they have someone like Wayne Guilfoyle representing them. Though a freshman commissioner, Guilfoyle has demonstrated leadership on a variety of important issues and continues to exhibit a willingness to study the details of these complex contracts, weigh all of the options, and play hardball when necessary to get the best deal for the taxpayers. Augusta could use more commissioners like him.

Not Gonna Be Bowled Over
Mayor Pro-tem Joe Bowles deserves credit for negotiating better terms in the contract that gives the city a much more favorable split of deck revenues at 70/30%. He also negotiated the inclusion of a pedestrian skywalk over Reynolds Street from the deck to the TEE Center that will enhance public safety and steer patrons to the city-owned parking spaces on the upper levels. Bowles even found the savings in the construction of the deck that will pay for the skywalk at no additional cost to the city. It's this keen eye that makes Bowles a consistent leader on the commission.

The mayor pro-tem is also willing to admit when mistakes have been made and then work diligently to correct them. He also has a knack for forging compromise through the art of negotiation, but is willing to stand his ground when necessary to make sure the interests of the taxpayers are protected. His leadership will certainly be missed when his term expires at the end of this year, but Bowles will leave office with a nice legacy and he has certainly set the tone for all future mayor pro-tems.

Wise Man Lockett
From the very beginning, Commissioner Bill Lockett has been a vocal critic of the parking management deal with Augusta Riverfront LLC. This is probably why he voted against approving yesterday's contract -- as a protest of  the entire process. That is understandable. Time and time again, Lockett's wise caution from his in-depth study and analysis of these complex matters has been proven right. Lockett doesn't take anything at face value. He wants to see it in writing -- he asks the right questions -- he goes over every detail with a fine tooth comb. Some people may find this tiresome, but without Lockett's determination to get to the truth and his attention to every detail, Augusta would have likely ended up with a much worse deal nine months ago locking the city into a 15 year contract with ARLLC instead of just 5.

Though ultimately unsuccessful in getting the forensic audit to probe the process that gave us this debacle, Lockett was right in asking for it, and we predict when all is said and done he will be vindicated on that issue as well. Augusta could use more commissioners like Bill Lockett who understand that their primary duty is in protecting the interests of the taxpayers of Augusta instead of bending to the whims of people like Paul S Simon. We suspect this is why Lockett does not face opposition for reelection.

Theater of the Absurd
On the opposite end of the spectrum is outgoing Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who fought vehemently against all attempts to give taxpayers a better deal over the parking deck. In what can be best described as a scene from the theater of absurdity, Brigham jumped at the opportunity yesterday to get in front of the cameras after the vote and tell a reporter for WJBF News that the final contract  is ".. financially more stable than what was originally proposed and I think the Commissioners feel better, in general, with this proposal.” 

It's too bad the reporter did not retort by saying something along the lines of: "But Mr Brigham, weren't you the one who wanted to rush this deal along and fought against these changes from the very beginning?

Indeed, if Brigham had of gotten his way, the parking deck contract would have been passed last Fall and it would have been for 15 years instead of 5 years and would have been riddled with loopholes that ARLLC could exploit as a blank check, using the taxpayers as their own personal piggy bank. Brigham's contract had none of the safeguards and denied the city the rights to audit. And when these deficiencies were brought to his attention by government watchdogs, Brigham refused to budge and admit that errors were made. So maybe Mr. Brigham's statement means he has had a change of heart? We doubt it -- it's probably more about saving face and trying to take the credit for the hard work of others who in the end forged the compromise that got a much better deal for the city.

Unlike his colleague Joe Bowles, Brigham will leave office with a cloud over his head. In every step of the process, Commissioner Brigham fought hard for the interests of Paul Simon and Augusta Riverfront LLC over those of the taxpayers in his district and the city as a whole. We can only hope that his successor will be someone more like Commissioner Guilfoyle, Bowles or Lockett. The voters certainly have a choice before them this Fall.

What Happens Next?
Though this closes the chapter on the nine month long saga over the parking deck contract, the issue is far from over. Now commissioners will have to decide how to hold the people accountable who created this mess in the first place. Why was the RFP (Requests for Proposals) process circumvented in favor of a hideously unfavorable deal with ARLLC -- one for which they did not even submit a bid? Why were commissioners consistently mislead about the land under the deck being donated? Why were commissioners not informed of the $millions  worth of liens on the property until after government watchdogs discovered them? Why were commissioners not made aware of the results of  2009 Parking study that showed that a $12 million parking deck was not even necessary and a $1 million surface lot would have sufficed. Why did city-hired outside counsel agree to such atrocious terms under previous contract proposals that were written entirely by the lawyers for ARLLC? 

Now that the contract terms have been settled these are the questions commissioners need to ask and find answers. This process did not happen by mistake. What should have been a simple and clear-cut process was intentionally made more complex and nearly incomprehensible to most commissioners, the media and the public in an effort to sneak through a contract riddled with loopholes, lacking controls and caps on expenses and absent safeguards like the rights to audit. The people responsible for this must be held accountable so that this does not happen again. This ordeal also demonstrates why the city needs consistent procedures and guidelines governing these kinds of contracts. What we currently have is a an ad-hoc process governed by whim. That must change or Augusta will keep repeating the same mistakes with future contracts. 

As the agenda now moves on to the the much larger TEE Center contract there is much more at stake. If commissioners have learned anything form the parking deck saga, they  now know not to take anything at face value and to study every detail and spot every loop hole. Instead of rushing something through like commissioners did in December of 2009 that gave us this mess, they would be wise to yield to caution to insure that the interests of the taxpayers are protected above all else. If commissioners ask the right questions, study the details, and use good judgement and common sense, we don't expect this process to drag out for nine months. But it's entirely up to them.***

Monday, August 27, 2012

Breaking: Parking Deck Contract Approved with Conditions Added

Monday, August 27, 2012
Augusta, GA
From Reports

We have just received word that the management agreement between the city of Augusta and Augusta Riverfront LLC for the Reynolds Street Parking Deck has been approved in a 6-2 vote in a special called meeting of the Augusta commission just minutes ago. The parking contract has been stalled for months after revelations came to light that the city did not own the land under the deck and that it had liens on it for more than $7 million held by Wells Fargo bank. In addition to this, there were serious questions about the city being on the hook for paying the overhead expenses for Augusta Riverfront LLC, that could amount to a blank check.

During a special called meeting last Tuesday, Commissioner Joe Bowles proposed a 70-30% split of deck proceeds with ARLLC and adding a pedestrian skywalk from the second floor of the deck to the TEE Center. Bowles says that cost savings from construction of the deck would pay for the skywalk. The skywalk is important for two reasons: 1. It will enhance public safety for people attending events at the TEE Center and 2. It will encourage deck patrons to park on the upper level spaces owned by the city instead of the ground floor spaces owned by Augusta Riverfront LLC.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle added the condition of the skywalk to the motion to approve the contract at today's meeting. Voting in favor were Guilfoyle, Bowles, Johnson, Jackson, Brigham, and Aitken. Commissioners Hatney and Lockett voted against. Commissioners Smith and Mason were absent.

As we understand it, some key provisions that we suggested earlier have been included in the contract that was approved today, in particular the Rights to Audit and language that specifically says that the city will not be liable for the overhead costs of Augusta Riverfront LLC. This was crucial for passage. As we understand it, the following amendment to the agreement was included in the contract:

Section 10.14 Plain Language Clarification of Certain Agreements. 
For the avoidance of any doubt, Manager’s only compensation under this Agreement shall be the Management Fee under Section  3.1, and Manager shall not “mark-up” or add any profit, administrative charges, or overhead to any expenses charged to Owner under this Agreement (i.e., costs and expenses to operate the RSPD charged to Owner will not exceed the actual out-of-pocket payments of Manager). Furthermore, Owner shall have the right to audit all books and records of Manager as are necessary to determine Manager’s compliance with this Agreement, including the previous sentence.

If indeed the above amendment was added to the contract, it puts the city in a much better position.Though far from a perfect agreement it is much better than what commissioners were presented with just a week ago. The Rights to Audit will give the city a powerful tool to make sure that ARLLC is in compliance with the contract. It also closes the biggest loopholes that could have amounted to a blank check for ARLLC by being able to bill the city for unlimited overhead expenses. 

We will have an update as more information becomes available.***

Related Stories:

Special Report: Key Conditions Must Met for Parking Agreement to Pass Today

Monday, August 27, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider

The Augusta Commission will once again take up the controversial Reynolds Street Parking Deck at another special called meeting at noon today. Last Tuesday, at another special called meeting, Paul S Simon, president of Augusta Riverfront LLC, made his case for approving a parking contract between his company and the city. Representatives of Augusta Today and were there and challenged Mr. Simon on key points of the contract. You can see that video here--> The Day City Stink Took Over the Marble Palace

To listen to Paul Simon talk, you'd think it was just a bunch "bloggers delaying progress,"  but perhaps Mr Simon should look in the mirror to see who has really been stalling things. The commission conditionally approved a parking management agreement back in February. As the key word suggests, this agreement was contingent on certain key conditions being met, but we found that after months had passed, Augusta Riverfront LLC had not satisfied them, including deeding the land to the city's land bank free of all liens.

This led to commissioners wanting to renegotiate the contract, but Paul Simon and Augusta Riverfront LLC have been obstinate, refusing to agree to contract controls and rights of audit and a more equitable sharing of  profits and expenses with the city. Just this past week though, Commissioner Joe Bowles presented a plan that would give the city a more favorable share of any deck profits in exchange for adding a pedestrian skywalk over Reynolds Street to the TEE Center. This seems reasonable, and Simon has supposedly agreed to these terms.

However, the most important elements of the contract that must be included are the controls and caps on Labor Costs/Burden and materials costs and  a rights of audit. These key provisions are vital because they will close any loopholes that Augusta Riverfront LLC could exploit at the detriment of the taxpayers. In regards to the rights of audit, as President Ronald Reagan famously said, "Trust, but verify," and we know with the history of dealing with Augusta Riverfront LLC that everything must be verified on paper. This is why the rights of audit language being added to the contract is so important.

We have listed below the provisions that need to be included in the parking management contract in order for it to be approved today. If Mr Simon agrees to all of them, then we do not see a reason why it should not proceed. Commissioners have been made aware of these key provisions and we believe that majority of them will stand firm and see to it that they are included or once again there will be no deal. The ball is Mr. Simon's court today. He is hoping he can strong-arm commissioners into agreeing to another last-minute lopsided deal that has been neutered of the necessary controls and rights of audit. He is hoping to ram this through in another special called meeting denying government watchdogs the right to speak out.

The most important provisions that must be added to the agreement are the rights of audit and capping overhead costs. The Rights of Audit clause will allow the city of Augusta to audit ARLLC's books to verify their compliance with the contract. Also, it is imperative that none of ARLLC's actual overhead costs can be billed to the city. If these key provisions are included in the contract it will go a long way towards improving the city's leverage and giving assurances that the city cannot be billed for potentially unlimited overhead costs.

We hope the commissioners will ask that these key provisions be included in the actual language of the contract and not as footnotes or parentheses. These provisions must have the force of law. If Paul S Simon will agree to include these provisions then the contract should be able to move forward; it's up to him. 

Below are the  provisions we suggest be included in the Parking Management Contract for approval:
Manager's "records" shall upon reasonable notice be open to inspection and subject to audit and/or reproduction during normal business working hours. Such audits may be performed by an Owner's representative or an outside representative engaged by Owner. The Owner or its designee may conduct such audits or inspections throughout the term of this contract and for a period of three years after final payment or longer if required by law. Manager's records as referred to in this contract shall include any and all information, materials and data of every kind and character, including without limitation, records, books, documents, subscriptions, recordings, agreements, purchase orders, leases, contracts, commitments, arrangements, notes, daily diaries, management reports, drawings, receipts, vouchers and memoranda, and any and all other agreements, sources of information and matters that may in Owner's judgment have any bearing on or pertain to any matters, rights, duties or obligations under or covered by any Contract Document. Such records shall include (hard copy, as well as computer readable data if it can be made available), written policies and procedures; time sheets; payroll registers; payroll records; cancelled payroll checks; subcontract files and any other Manager records to the extent necessary to adequately permit evaluation and verification of Manager compliance with contract requirements,

Owner's authorized representative or designee shall have reasonable access to the Manager's facilities, shall be allowed to interview all current or former employees to discuss matters pertinent to the performance of this contract and shall be provided adequate and appropriate work space, in order to conduct audits in compliance with this article.

Cost to be reimbursed will be the actual wages paid to the individuals performing the work and the actual wages will be subject to wage maximums which shall be subject to the approval of the Owner.
The Manager is authorized to station a Parking Facility Manager and parking deck cashiers to man 3 shifts,either full-time or part-time at the job site. Charges by these personnel will be authorized only when performing their job related duties at the job-site location. (If it is intended that the wages or salaries of certain personnel stationed at the Manager's principal or other offices shall be included in the Cost of the Work, identify separately the personnel to be included and whether for all or only part of their time, and the rates at which their time will be charged to the Work.)

No Manager personnel stationed at the Manager's home or branch offices shall be charged to the Cost of the Work unless the Owner approves such charges in advance.

Overtime wages paid to salaried personnel (if approved in advance in writing by the Owner) will be reimbursed at the actual rate of overtime pay paid to the individual. No time charges for overtime hours worked on the project will be allowed if the individual is not paid for the overtime worked. Any overtime premium or shift differential expense to be incurred by Manager for hourly workers shall require Owner's advance written approval before the incremental cost of the overtime premium or shift differential will be considered a reimbursable cost.

When computing actual costs chargeable to the Cost of the Work for payroll taxes, the Manager shall give proper consideration to the annual limitations of the wages subject to certain payroll taxes.
Cost of the Work shall include the actual net cost to the Manager for worker's compensation insurance attributable to the wages chargeable to the Cost of the Work per this agreement. The actual net cost of worker's compensation shall take into consideration all cost adjustments due to experience modifiers, premium discounts, policy dividends, retrospective rating plan premium adjustments, assigned risk pool rebates, etc. The Manager may charge an estimated amount for worker's compensation insurance costs, but will make appropriate cost adjustments to actual costs within 30 days of receipt of actual cost adjustments from the insurance carrier.

Any payroll burden related costs to be reimbursed which are not required by law shall be subject to advance written approval by Owner to be considered reimbursable. The Manager shall be required to submit a detailed breakdown of all such payroll burden costs along with all representation as to how the proposed actual billable cost will be computed. Such information must be reviewed and approved in writing by Owner before Manager may include such items as reimbursable costs. All such payroll burden costs shall be billable as reimbursable costs at actual verifiable cost subject to provisional maximums agreed upon in writing in advance by both parties. Adjustments will be made no less frequently than annually to account for actual costs which may be less than the provisional maximum costs previously billed.

Material costs shall reflect the Manager's net actual cost for the purchase of the materials, supplies and other items. Material costs shall reflect cost reductions available to the Manager due to trade discounts, free material credits, and/or volume rebates. "Cash" discounts (i.e. prompt payment discounts of 2% or less) available on material purchased shall be credited to Owner if the Manager is provided Owner funds in time for Manager to take advantage of any such cash discounts. Price quotations from material suppliers must be itemized with unit prices for each specific item to be purchased. "Lot pricing" quotations will not be considered sufficient substantiating detail.***

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Column: Lee Anderson Hardly a Leader

Friday, August 24, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Jeffery Sexton
My attention was drawn to this comment from Lawton Sack, Chairman of GA-GOP’s 12th District:
  • Rep. Lee Anderson was elected as our Republican nominee for GA-12 on Tuesday night. There already seems to be an air of defeat permeating this race against Barrow. Some people are publicly and privately saying that Lee cannot beat Barrow. I have had some tell me that they will be voting for Barrow instead of Lee. I believe strongly and sincerely that Lee can win this election, and I cannot and will not give up without a fight. I have lived under Barrow for almost 8 years, and I am tired of his duplicity and his non-leadership. Barrow is not the right answer for GA-12. I kindly ask that each of you, our Republican leaders and activists in GA-12, to please not add any fuel to the pessimism. If you choose not to support our nominee, that is your right and prerogative. I simply ask that you please not make the battle more difficult for those that choose to fight on.–Lawton Sack, GA-12 GAGOP Chair

Now, as y’all probably know, I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past four years – since Anderson was first elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 2008 – watching the Georgia General Assembly quite closely. And honestly, Anderson’s name was never a factor in my conversations with fairly high ranking sources in the Assembly, no matter the issue. But I decided to use the power of LEGIS to do some research into Rep Anderson’s “leadership”, and here’s what I found:
Per his biography page, as of the 2011-2012 session of the Assembly, Rep Anderson’s highest ranking position is as the third ranking official (Secretary) of the Intragovernmental Affairs committee. He has no other leadership positions in the Assembly – meaning Speaker Ralston and the other genuine leaders in the Ga House of Representatives don’t consider the man a leader at all, else he would be given more prominent positions, particularly given the turnover of the last couple of years.
But let’s also look at his legislative record, shall we?
Rep Anderson has had his name attached to 40 bills in the 2009-2010 session, his Freshman term. Of those bills:
  • 15 were statewide House legislation
  • 2 were local legislation dealing with the City of Harlem and Columbia County
  • 2 were Senate bills that he was the House sponsor of (SB 6 and SB 456)
  • 16 were various commendation resolutions
  • 2 were resolutions supporting development of Ga’s energy resourcese
  • 1 was a resolution honorting China Day at the Capitol
  • 1 was a resolution recognizing Burn Week
  • 1 was a resolution creating the House Study Committee on Property Law Modernization and Standardization
Of those 40 pieces of legislation, Rep Anderson himself introduced just 1/4 of them – 7 bills (HB 196HB 440HB 453HB 630HB 723HB 975, and HB 1253) and 3 commending resolutions (HR 1656HR 1766HR 1940).
Of the 7 bills Rep Anderson introduced himself, 4 (HB 440, HB 453, HB 630, HB 723) became law – though half of those were the 2 pieces of local legislation he had introduced. Of the rest of the House bills that Rep Anderson co-sponsored, only 4 became law: HB 93HB 156HB 529HB 1206. Of these four, Anderson was the primary co-sponsor on half of them.
For comparison purposes on the numbers above, there were nearly 6100 pieces of legislation introduced in that session, with 1527 of them being House Bills, 552 Senate Bills, 2340 House Resolutions, and the remainder of them Senate Resolutions.
In Rep Anderson’s sophomore term, the 2011-2012 session, here is the breakdown of his 55 total bills:
  • 38 were commendation resolutions
  • 7 were statewide House legislation
  • 5 were local redistricting bills
  • 1 was a local bill to provide term limits for the Columbia County Board of Commissioners
  • 1 was a resolution supporting the modernization of the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (HR 381)
  • 1 was a resolution urging the US Dept of Labor to repeal certain proposed policies (HR 1561)
  • 1 was a resolution urging the US Dept of Community Affairs to adopt amendments to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (HR 1948)
  • 1 was a dedication resolution
Of these 55 pieces of legislation, Rep Anderson introduced just 2 of the bills (HB 1179 and HB 1180, both redistricting bills regarding Lincoln County) himself, though he introduced 34 of the commendation resolutions himself.
All of Rep Anderson’s redistricting bills became law, as did his bill term limiting Columbia County Commissioners and 5 (HB 198HB 274HB 280HB 485HB 928) of his 7 Statewide bills.
For comparison with the above numbers, there were 5423 total pieces of legislation introduced in the 2011-2012 session, with 1311 of them being House Bills, 2201 of them being House Resolutions, 540 were Senate Bills, and the remainder were Senate Resolutions.
Thus, as Rep Anderson’s record clearly shows, he is hardly a leader – he has not held any position of any real importance on any major committee, and while he has had a few bills passed, 2/3 (4 of 6) of the bills he had passed that he had introduced himself were local legislation of no statewide importance.
I’ll leave it to the reader to interpret the benefit/detriment of the bills that did get passed with his name on them for themselves.
For anyone who would like to look at exactly what I have looked at on their own, please feel free to go to LEGIS. To find Rep Anderson’s information, simply use the Session drop down box to search for either the 2009-2010 Regular Session or the 2011-2012 Regular Session, then for the Member drop down select “Anderson, Lee”. All of what I have now shown will come up for you to look at the legislation at your leisure.***
Jeffery Sexton*

Visit Jeffery Sexton's blog here-->

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Day City Stink Took Over The Marble Palace (Video)

Thursday, Augusta 23, 2012
Augusta, GA
From Reports

Amid all of the hullabaloo of Tuesday's runoff elections, something remarkable happened at The Marble Palace. Paul S Simon, president of Augusta Riverfront LLC, was on the agenda to give a presentation before the Augusta Commission about the Reynolds Street parking deck management contract in a special called meeting at 4:30pm. Representatives from and Augusta Today were also there including Al Gray, Lori Davis, Brad Owens and former Augusta commissioner Andy Cheek.  After Simon's presentation, commissioners adjourned into a closed door legal session to discuss personnel matters. That's when members of and Augusta Today took over the commission chambers. Al Gray went to the front of the chambers and began to address the gallery and questioning Simon about  key points in the  management contract. We have the video of that exchange below:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Roundtree Victory Shouldn't Be a Huge Shock

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Augusta, GA
By The Outsider

The results of last night's Democratic primary runoff for the Richmond County Sheriff's race left a lot of people shocked throughout the CSRA. Cpt. Scott Peebles appeared to be a shoe-in, coming within just 3.4% of winning the nomination outright on July 31st in a 4 man race. So it seemed that all Peebles had to do was get his supporters back to the polls yesterday and pick up just enough of Silas' supporters to put him over the top. And Sheriff Strength's long awaited endorsement was supposed to seal the deal and catapult Peebles to an easy victory. It seemed like a simple task with the huge money advantage for the Peebles campaign, but Roundtree came from behind and  stunned Peebles supporters and many political observers by winning the race  with a margin of just slightly more than 1%.

But perhaps this result should not be such a big shock after all. The key to winning a runoff is all about getting your supporters back to the polls and picking up just enough votes from the candidates who didn't make the cut from the the first round of voting. It appears that Roundtree was successful in doing both. In fact, Roundtree gained nearly 2000 votes in the runoff. It appears he got all of his supporters back to the polls and picked up all of John Ivey's supporters and even got a couple of hundred of Silas voters to turn out in his favor. On the other hand, Scott Peebles lost nearly 700 votes in the runoff from the general primary. The bottom line is that Roundtree simply did a better job getting his supporters to turn out yesterday at the polls.

The Peebles campaign fell into the trap that plagues many presumptive front-runners going into runoffs -- complacency. Not so much that the campaign itself was complacent, in fact Peebles held two well attended fundraisers in the last week of the campaign, but there seemed to be an air of inevitability among many of his supporters that he would win, and that may have kept enough of them home to hand the victory to Roundtree. In fact, exactly 674 of Peebles supporters decided not to go back to the polls or switched their vote yesterday. That cost him the election.

The delayed Strength endorsement may have cut both ways, adding to the sense of inevitability among Peebles supporters that he had the race in the bag. That may have made some voters decide not to trek to the polls yesterday thinking it would be an easy win. Strength's endorsement would have had a greater impact for Peebles before the July 31st general primary. It may have given him the extra push to win the primary outright with no runoff. Peebles was only 3.4% of the vote away from achieving that on July 31st. The delayed Strength endorsement may have fired up the Roundtree supporters and energized them to get to the polls yesterday while making Peebles supporters even more complacent that he was the inevitable winner.

Though probably not the deciding factor, the timing of the the GRU name controversy also did the Peebles campaign no favors. What was the hottest local political race of the decade had pretty much drifted off the radar of the local media once the GRU name controversy hit. If you opened up an Augusta Chronicle, turned on the local news, and listened to talk radio in the last week and a half, it has been nearly all GRU all the time. Though certainly an important issue, the naming controversy did divert public attention away from the sheriff's race at just the time the Peebles campaign needed people to be focused on it--the final week. The last week is the most critical period for a campaign in their get out the vote effort, but most people's minds were on the GRU controversy in the final days and not on the sheriff's race. That made it even more difficult for a campaign that had complacency already settling in with their supporters. We have previously written about how the GRU controversy had a similar impact on the 12th congressional GOP runoff.

There also seems to have been more preoccupation over the GRU controversy among likely Peebles supporters than those who would likely support Roundtree. GRU has dominated the pages of the Augusta Chronicle, which endorsed Peebles. GRU has also been a hot topic on conservative talk radio shows which would likely have a listening audience made up of more Peebles supporters than those for Roundtree. The university name controversy has had noticeably less coverage in the black oriented media. They have covered it, but not to the same degree. In fact, Ben Hasan, a leading figure in  Augusta's black-oriented media with his Urban Pro Weekly newspaper, came out in favor of the new name. The Metro Courier, another prominent black oriented weekly paper, also gave more coverage to the sheriff's race in the final week than the GRU controversy. Augusta's black community was more focused on the sheriff's race when it mattered most -- the final week -- when the rest of Augusta was consumed by the GRU controversy. Again, this may not have been the deciding factor in the outcome, but it was certainly a contributing factor.

If voting falls along racial lines in the November General Election like it seems to have for the Democratic Sheriff's runoff, then Roundtree should have little trouble waltzing into the Sheriff's office. He will, however be facing a fierce competitor in Republican Freddie Sanders, who might be able to at least keep it close. But today, the Peebles campaign has to be wondering what could have been --- if only they had fired up their supporters more in the last few days of the campaign --- if only the media was more focused  on the sheriff's race like it was for the July 31st primary instead of other issues. Now Peebles, who many observers considered the most qualified candidate in history for the job, will be watching this one from the sidelines. **


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Commissioners Cautioned Against Approving Deck Contract Today

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Augusta, GA

As we told you yesterday, a special called meeting of the Augusta Commission is scheduled today at 4:30pm to once again try to approve the Reynolds Street Parking Deck management agreement between the city and Augusta Marriott hotel owners, Augusta Riverfront LLC. A closed door legal session has also been requested by Augusta General Counsel to discuss the deck deal. Representatives from Augusta Today and will be in commission chambers today to observe these proceedings. Of course if commissioners vote to go into a legal session, those proceeding will be off limits to the public and the media. 

Al Gray, a cost-recovery specialist and a contributor to, who has done extensive analysis of the deck contracts, plans to be at today's meeting. Al Gray cautions commissioners from once again rushing into approving any last minute deal and he left the following remarks on why this contract needs to be tabled and what MUST be included for any  contract to be approved:

The Mayor, Administrator, and Commissioner Jerry Brigham are set to RAM THROUGH disastrous Parking Deck Management and lease agreements that, at last review, contain the following flaws. 

1) The Annual plan was only a guide. The REAL AUTHORITY is the contract language defining costs that are allowed. The Annual plan is a SMOKESCREEN. They are putting out the total and utter B.S. that the Commission will have approval for overages or costs beyond the Plan, but the CONTRACT LANGUAGE WILL FORCE PAYMENT!

Like the Jefferson County Alabama deals with Wall Street that bankrupted that county, unless this agreement has been amended SUBSTANTIALLY, it is an OPEN CONDUIT of UNLIMITED Augusta Funds. The Manager can SELL THIS AGREEMENT and if the agreement allows the Manager to set its own budget, like this agreement did the last time the public saw it. An agreement that allows unlimited billings would have unlimited value! LET US SEE THE AMENDMENT THAT ELIMINATES THIS!

Then there is the matter of the LLC getting 100% of the income for 150 spaces while Augusta gets 100% of the expenses. The LLC is being compensated with a like # of spaces, but didn't the LLC pay the COSTS of the old spaces? Taxes,  lighting, etc.?

Here are the rights of Audit I recommended that Augusta is apparently rejecting: 

WHY NEEDED? TO DETERMINE THAT COSTS ARE ACTUAL COSTS traceable to the Managers records, that all discounts come back to the OWNER. The "Financial Audit" now in
there is a RUBBER STAMP stapshot at the end of the year.

INSPECTION AND AUDIT - Manager's "records" shall upon reasonable notice be open to inspection and subject to audit and/or reproduction during normal business working hours. Such audits may be performed by an Owner's representative or an outside representative engaged by Owner. 

The Owner or its designee may conduct such audits or inspections throughout the term of this contract and for a period of three years after final payment or longer if required by law. Manager's records as referred to in this contract shall include any and all information, materials and data of every kind and character, including without limitation, records, books, documents, subscriptions, recordings, agreements, purchase orders, leases, contracts, commitments, arrangements, notes, daily diaries, management reports, drawings, receipts, vouchers and memoranda, and any and all other agreements, sources of information and matters that may in Owner's judgment have any bearing on or pertain to any matters, rights, duties or obligations under or covered by any Contract Document. 

Such records shall include (hard copy, as well as computer readable data if it can be made available), written policies and procedures; time sheets; payroll registers; payroll records; cancelled payroll checks; subcontract files (including proposals of successful and unsuccessful bidders, bid recaps, etc.); original estimates; estimating worksheets; correspondence; change order files (including documentation covering negotiated settlements); backcharge logs and supporting documentation; invoices and related payment documentation; general ledger entries detailing cash and trade discounts earned, insurance rebates and dividends; and any other Manager records which may have a bearing on matters of interest to the Owner in connection with the Manager's dealings with the Owner (all foregoing hereinafter referred to as "records") to the extent necessary to adequately permit evaluation and verification of:

(a) Manager compliance with contract requirements,

(b) compliance with Owner's business ethics policies

Contractors get away with ENORMOUS overbillings from misapplied labor burdens. I got back $millions from this source


Insert - When computing actual costs chargeable to the Cost of the Work for payroll taxes, the Manager shall give proper consideration to the annual limitations of the wages subject to certain payroll taxes. The Manager may accomplish this through the use of an accounting system which computes actual costs for payroll taxes when incurred up to the wage limit cut-off and allocated same to all jobs by individual based on the time worked on each job by the individual. Alternatively the Manager may use an estimated net effective payroll tax percentage to allocate payroll tax costs during the year and make appropriate adjustments at the end of the year or at the end of the project (whichever is more appropriate) to adjust the costs to actual net payroll tax cost. Using the latter approach, if 50% of the wages paid to an employee during the year were chargeable to the Cost of the Work, then only 50% of the actual annual costs of payroll taxes would be allocable to the Cost of the Work, etc.

Insert - Cost of the Work shall include the actual net cost to the Manager for worker's compensation insurance attributable to the wages chargeable to the Cost of the Work per this agreement. The actual net cost of worker's compensation shall take into consideration all cost adjustments due to experience modifiers, premium discounts, policy dividends, retrospective rating plan premium adjustments, assigned risk pool rebates, etc. The Manager may charge an estimated amount for worker's compensation insurance costs, but will make appropriate cost adjustments to actual costs within 30 days of receipt of actual cost adjustments from the insurance carrier.

Insert - Any payroll burden related costs to be reimbursed which are not required by law shall be subject to advance written approval by Owner to be considered reimbursable. Fringe benefit costs typically falling into this category include but are not limited to pension, employee stock option plans, bonuses, medical and dental benefits, life and accident insurance, etc. The Manager shall be required to submit a detailed breakdown of all such payroll burden costs along with all representation as to how the proposed actual billable cost will be computed. Such information must be reviewed and approved in writing by Owner before Manager may include such items as reimbursable costs. 

All such payroll burden costs shall be billable as reimbursable costs at actual verifiable cost subject to provisional maximums agreed upon in writing in advance by both parties. It should be noted that certain fringe benefit costs such as funding of pension or profit sharing funds in excess of the minimum amounts required by law may not be considered reimbursable payroll burden costs by Owner, and those fringe benefit items which are not approved in advance in writing by Owner will be considered as nonreimbursable overhead cost to be covered by the Manager's Fee. During the job and prior to contract close-out, adjustments will be made to account for actual costs which may be less than the provisional maximum costs previously billed.**************

11th Hour for the 12th District

GOP About to be Reformed, One Way or Another

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

A perfect storm has struck the ossified, corrupt political power structure in Augusta, the CSRA, and Georgia. The first harbinger of the maelstrom emerged a year ago when Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver attempted to bring a publicly funded baseball stadium to the riverfront, prompting the formation of a loose coalition of Augustans, area residents, and former citizens.  This is Augusta Today.

The opening pitch for that stadium by Mayor Deke was in the dirt.

Then came the Laney Walker Overlay debacle, where the Mayor was eager to run all over city ordinances and the constitutional property rights of the poorest people to get on the cover of Southern Living.

After that has been a blizzard of revelations, sourced in the city’s own documents, that shows a pattern of deception, mismanagement, incompetence, and probably rampant fraud centered in Augusta’s contracts.

Then along came TSPLOST, supposedly a regional collaboration, which instead has blown the CSRA apart and separated it from the 75% of the state that rejected the tax.

Augusta is a renegade government that endangers its citizens. In the parlance of former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, this is a known known. Things will never be the same again in Augusta and beyond.
The Republican Party in the 12th Congressional District of Georgia is in the midst of reform, too.

This spring the Liberty Movement seized control of the Richmond County GOP convention. They nearly did it at the district convention.

The Columbia County GOP is in pure turmoil from years of shenanigans, deposed chairmen, party establishment ruin, and is totally irrelevant.

A core cadre of GOP legislators named Barbara Sims, Ben Harbin, Lee Anderson, Bill Jackson, and Tom McCall joined together behind beleaguered Nathan Deal to foist TSPLOST, the largest tax increase in Georgia history, on the voters.  The GOP havens Columbia County and Lincoln County rejected them and it.

This same cadre of GOP legislators is wrapped all up in the ASU name change to GRU fiasco. Deal’s Board of Regents Chairman Ben Tarbutton has contributed to Lee Anderson’s congressional campaign and Sims has been supportive of the detested Georgia Regents University name.

John Barrow, the last blue dog Democrat in the South, looms with a war chest that will probably exceed $2 million. Barrow has shown a streak of independence from the Obama Administration and his voting record in terms of fiscal conservatism is on a par with GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. His office has rock solid constituent service.

Reform is about to be visited upon the GOP.  The party establishment hates it, but now knows it stands before an avalanche of public revulsion, anger, and determination.  TSPLOST is about to be stopped cold. CSRA politicos will find themselves in a totally untenable position if they don’t reverse course and join this action.
With respect to the 12th district race, the path to reform is either going to be aboard a bullet train or it is going to occur on an even greater scale over 2 years. The former will come with a Rick Allen victory. The later will come with a Lee Anderson victory.

Some might see Allen’s alliances with the mavens of Morris Communications, the Augusta blueblood elites, the Copenhaver-Russell administration, and his own ties to the party establishment all the way to Washington, DC as diametrically opposed to reform. It won’t work that way. Precisely because of those alliances and the many contracts that his business has had with government, Rick Allen will have absolutely no choice but to embrace openness and reform. There simply will be no way to dodge questions. Instead of reform activists having to laboriously go through open records requests, questions will have to be quickly answered and issues resolved. The key to taking Augusta from worst to first lies in its contracting. Rick Allen knows this. Rick Allen will bring the reformers to the table because John Barrow will force him to.

Beyond the things that will force the issue, there is the knowledge that Rick Allen has the intelligence, openness, curiosity, financial background and moral code to bring back the rule of law, the Constitution, and fiscal responsibility to government. He knows the score with far better acumen than most. He knows that the people who send him to Washington won’t be those connected folks.

It was said that only Nixon could have gone to China. Maybe only Allen can visit reform on Augusta.

Reform will come in slower, broader, plainer, and yet more spectacular style if Lee Anderson is the GOP nominee. Then the party will be pinned hopelessly to a candidate with a record hostile to the hurting, threatened, middle class. Barrow will pounce all over it. Anderson went along to get along in the most unethical state government in America. He has pushed sales taxes on groceries, both with the ridiculous GREAT “tax reform” of the disgraced Georgia Speaker Glenn Richardson and with TSPLOST. Anderson’s TSPLOST did away with home rule, subverting Columbia Countians votes to those of welfare statists in neighboring Augusta.. His subservience to Nathan Deal brings its own baggage. Then, there is the matter of his willingness to read and comprehend legislation.  It just isn’t there. Neither is there substantial debating skill.

Lee is relying on four things to sweep him into office after Tuesday, while he disappears into a cocoon of silence.
One is Obamaphobia.

Two is the promise of $950,000 of Republican Congressional Campaign Committee funds to unseat John Barrow.

Three is that voters uninformed of his record are drawn to vote for “the nice man with the tractor.”

Four is that folks don’t notice that the discredited Georgia establishment is behind him.

It might happen. Obamaphobia very well may mean an Anderson seat in Congress. That would be the sum of all fears for the GOP. It would mean that the party openly supported a known-to-be flawed candidate into the US House of Representatives, one who might deliver more embarrassment and bad policy than a John Deere tractor can haul.

Reform now, GOP. You can pay a nominal price now or a capitol one later.
Tractor pulls are dangerous.***
Al Gray