Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mayor Briley has halted several future public works contracts followng audit findings.

The Tennessean reports today that Mayor Briley has halted several future public works contracts for paving, sidewalks, and other capital projects following questions raised in a recent audit about the cozy relationship between some metro officials and a top engineering contractor. Briley also announced plans to hire the city's first-ever chief compliance officer who will work in the mayor's office. When hired, the compliance officer will review ethics in city's procurement process and will begin a compliance review of the procurement practices of the public works department. This is welcome news!  Mayor Briley is to be commended.

I have no direct evidence but suspect widespread corruption in Metro government.  One does not have to be an auditor to see that something is wrong when the city is booming like never before but is broke.  One does not have to be an auditor to observe that Metro rips up perfectly good sidewalks and replaces them yet does almost no sidewalk expansion. When the city spends $60 million on sidewalks and only gets three and half miles of new sidewalks, something is terribly wrong.  When Rich Reibling spent $135,000 for his close friend to do engineering work at the Fairgrounds, without approval from anyone, and still kept his job, something is wrong.

If I headed a news organization and had the manpower, I would pour over every campaign financial disclosure report and see who among candidates for mayor and candidates for the Metro Council got campaign contributions from people doing work for metro.  I would also dig into who may have a spouse or close relative working for those who do work for Metro and who had real estate transactions involving those who do work for Metro. Someone needs to follow the money and see how it is possible that so much money can be spent for so little benefit. Such a deep dive search for corruption may turn up nothing, but I would be surprised if it did not.

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