DOT board defies state auditor, asks AG opinion

The state Transportation Board has just voted overwhelmingly to reverse a change in accounting practices that DOT implemented over the last two years after searing reports from the state auditor.  At the same time, they’re requesting an official opinion from the attorney general.

The auditor’s office said that DOT had been unconstitutionally signing multi-year contracts – when it had, for example, only the first year’s money in the bank and the expectation of future revenues – rather than waiting as it should until it had set aside all the money in the bank for all years of the contract.

If the move succeeds it might free up hundreds of millions of dollars for projects, and the supporters said, create jobs that are desperately needed now.  If it doesn’t, uneasy DOT staff cautioned, DOT could wind up back in a deficit, having to choke off spending again to fill the hole.  Board members who supported the measure said that they would move slowly to bid out multi-year contracts, hoping the attorney general would rule soon.

A lawyer in the attorney general’s office had strongly backed up the state auditor, but some board members said they believed that Attorney General Thurbert Baker himself supported DOT on this one issue, and they wanted him to put his opinion in writing.

Board Member Bobby Parham, who served in the state House of Representatives for 35 years until he came on the board last year, brought the issue up, and David Doss made the motion.  Parham said it wasn’t up to the auditor to say what was constitutional, it was up to the judiciary.

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20 comments Add your comment

What

January 21st, 2010
12:38 pm

How come GTA can sign a contract spending other agencies funds for 7 years.

dogdownsouth

January 21st, 2010
12:46 pm

the new acvcounting procedures were a political ploy instituted by sonny’s lapdog Gena Evans in order to help[ with the disolution of the DOT that sonny sought to do! the practice of pay for contracts with money yet to come was well known by legislators & Govenors in order to keep work ongoing. Sonny started the fast forward movement to speed up projects but the dirty secret was he didnt allocate funds to pay for it so he knew the dot was behind in its budget becaused he caused it!!

The Snark

January 21st, 2010
1:15 pm

Somebody better tell Mr. Parham that even though the courts have the last word on the constitution, every public official has the duty to obey the law.

Ah the DOT moves

January 21st, 2010
1:19 pm

Let’s see if the candidate is in the DOT’s pocket. The AT’s done nothing in a crime ridden GA political system. It’s like the wild West as the “powers that be” grab what little taxpayer money is left.

Make a move Mr. Baker. We don’t want Barnes.

Nemo

January 21st, 2010
1:47 pm

Yes, Mr. Snark, including the federal law that states “The execution of the project agreement shall be deemed a contractual obligation of the Federal Government for the payment of the Federal share of the cost of the project.” That’s what they’re relying on here for federal-aid projects, just as they rely on the contractual obligation of the Tollway Authority to (perfectly legally) let multi-year projects based on future bond proceeds even though the cash for the project list is not yet on hand. They are allowed to rely on the promise, the contractual obligation, and the Attorney General has said exactly that. It’s a legitimate question whether they can treat the federal contracts the same way. And it would allow a lot of money that is sitting idle in bank accounts, to “back up” long-term projects, to be used now for the benefit of everybody. Nobody loses anything, no one is injured, the same money is spent on the same projects, it is simply a matter of timing. By the way, it’s called “accrual accounting,” it complies in every respect with GAAP and no good, sophisticated business operates without it. The more our state government can avoid being forced into archaic cash-basis accounting by an outdated constitutional provision, the better off we are.

Dan Dawg

January 21st, 2010
2:22 pm

I think as few of you are misplacing the bad guy in this scenario. Perdue’s petty power play caused the problems and the DOT is trying to right the ship.

Road Scholar

January 21st, 2010
2:51 pm

dogdownsouth and Dan Dawg: you are right. The pricipal and debt service on the bonds already sold is about $4-500 M per year. Perdue knew about the accounting for years; was pbriefed often.

The Repubs have condemned Obama for his “lavish” spending and placing the burden of paying it back on future generations of children. With Fast Forward hundreds of million dollars worth of bonds were sold. Now Perdue wants to sell $300 M /yr in bonds for 10 years. Et tu Sonny? Paying for transportation on the backs of future children?

TOBE

January 21st, 2010
4:30 pm

Scott Brown for President!!!

Tone What

January 21st, 2010
7:04 pm

Another Sonny Shell game, power grab, Every other state is on an accural versus a cash basis accounting- Are you saying the money has to be in the bank and collected before you can contract- more back water bumpkin logic from our governor from the star ship enterprise.

Just a regular JO looking 4 a J.O.B.

January 22nd, 2010
2:53 pm

Perdue should be arrested for fraud and put in jail for delivering the people of Georgia to steps of another depression. He has raised property taxes his first term in office. Ordered a fast forward program that is now coming to an abrubt end. Abbused state revenue to fund his personal little nitch (Go Fish program). Failed to act in critical times of the state budget, such as gas tax raising it by 1 cent when needed and instead lowering it by 1 cent that ended up cutting DOT out of money by around 50 million and Im sure we will have another sales tax free holiday again this year just to have one, yeah that makes perfect sense. And who can forget the constant slandering and false representation by Perdue and his buisness associate Gena Evans who suprisingly has managed to skim by without any one raising an eye lash at the fact how she could run 2 agencies and probably getting paid for both at the same time. By the way does anyone know why we need 3 transportation agencies anyway(GDOT, GRTA, SRTA) I dont know but it seems like one could handle the task of transportation by itself but now Georgia has to fund a fourth, you know the litlle director of planning outfit that works directly for the Govenor, another great idea add more payroll and money spenditure to an already oreburdened state budget. Oh and dont forget the little trip to Spain Perdue took at the cost of none other the taxpayer for discussing this buisness of selling GA property to privately owned Spanish companies so they would build roads for us. Yeah I like the idea of paying a foriegn company a toll for the use of a road I use to get to work here in GA, what a great idea that was. Is anyone noticing a pattern here or am I the only one who remembers this stuff? Perdue once slandered DOT with accountability, thats fine. I want to know who is holding this man acountable for running Georgia into the ground. Every year he has been in office for the past 8 years its gotten worse and worse. This is a perfect opportunity to make an example of accoutability and put Perdue in jail and send a message to state legislatives to do their job and make the decisions needed to right the ship and produce jobs not excuses.

Georgian

January 22nd, 2010
11:00 pm

The government of the State of Georgia is a full blown criminal organization that defrauds the public using the same old scams year after year. That’s probably where the Nigerians got the ideas for their scams. There is no such thing as “accountability” for Georgia’s government officials, if there was, trashy and insane Glenn Richardson would have been fully investigated, disbarred, and imprisoned for his many criminal acts! I’m not paying one more penny in state income taxes to fund those sorry liars! Georgia’s corrupt government can kiss my butt.

11 Months and Counting

January 23rd, 2010
10:21 am

In a little more than 11 months, Sonny Perdue’s criminal enterprise will cease to be run out of the Governor’s Office. But the damage he has caused in this state will be felt for years to come. Within a few months after taking office, Perdue began taking steps the enrich himself and his political cronies via the use of the Office of Governor. In the coming months, it will become known as the Houston County Mafia and include current elected officials, former elected officials, relatives and friends of Sonny Perdue. It will explain Sonny’s obsession with controlling GDOT and his decision to place his political thug and former girlfriend, Gena Abraham Evans, as Commissioner of GDOT. When all of this is over and finally exposed for the public to see. two people are going to have some explaining to do.
First, former US Attorney and fellow Republican David Nahmias is going to need to explain why he turned a blind eye to the blatantly illegal Oaky Woods scandal which was first exposed in 2003 and continues even today. And how a $21M illegal loan to Sonny, that Sonny couldn’t re-pay, went un-investigated by the US Attorney. And if the quid pro quo appointment of Nahmias to the Georgia Supreme Court by Sonny was the pay-off for getting a free pass on all of his illegal activities. Sally Yates, ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION???
And Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat do-nothing, who could have been a rock star if he had gotten off his lazy ass and investigated the Governor’s conduct, what is your excuse? It is this shirking of your legal responsibility that has shown Georgia voters why you don’t deserve their vote for Governor. You had a golden opportunity and you slept through it.
Some members of the GDOT Board have seen this for exactly what it is; a calculated and planned attack on GDOT by the Governor so that he can wrestle power away from this constitutionally created independant board. Other board members haven’t been able to see it because they have had their heads squarely up the rear-end of the Governor. Call it blind loyality, call it cronyism, I call it a tremendous disservice to the citizens of this state.
This accounting fiasco was just one of several assaults on GDOT orchestrated out of the Governor’s office. But this one has devistated GDOT’s ability to deliver a transportation system at a most critical time in our state’s history, and caused thousands of Georgias to lose their jobs. It has put a black mark on the stellar reputation of a fine public servant, former Treasurer Earl Mahfuz. And the Governor, Gena, and Kev Clarke continue to torture this man by abusing their authority using the GBI to do their dirty work. The GBI agent snooping around the GDOT offices, continually states that he can’t find any evidence of any wrongdoing, but yet, he is ordered by his superiors to keep digging. The only problem is you can’t uncover a crime that never took place. They want to put Mr. Mahfuz in jail for allegedly pushing 2008 construction contracts into fiscal year 2009 after the Department of Audits changed the accounting method, and quite literally overnight created a ficticious deficit.
Anybody care to remember what happened June 30, 2002? That year, Sonny Perdue said Roy Barnes left him with a huge deficit (untrue). State employees get paid on the last day of the month. June 30 also happens to be that last day of the state’s fiscal year. So, what did double standard Sonny do??? He ordered that state employees NOT be paid on June 30, and instead be paid 1 day later on July 1, 2002. What was the effect of that 1 day delay?? Sonny pushed a state obligation from fiscal year 2002 into fiscal year 2003…….the exact same thing he is using the GBI to go after Earl Mahfuz for doing.
Here is the bottom line: What goes around, comes around. And Sonny, your day of reckoning is just around the corner. In 11 short months, you will be a political has-been. No one will hire you, no one will co-sign on your failed bank loans, no one will even return your phone call. And the road and real estate deals that you have been so carefully plotting for the past 7 years will come to light and you are going to get to spend some of your retirement at the Grey Bar Motel in Reidsville. You cannot step on the careers of good dedicated people and get away with it forever. Judgement day is coming, and it aint gonna be pretty.

11 Months and Counting

January 24th, 2010
6:52 am

11 months to go, and the most corrupt administration in Georgia’s history will come to a close. 11 months to go and state employees will no longer be intimidated by the Governor and his appointed bullies who use the GBI to intimidate those who threaten to expose the corruption that has gone on since the day Sonny Perdue moved in on West Paces Ferry Road.
No longer will Sonny be able to hide the shady real estate transactions or the road projects that Gena Evans arranged to enhance the value of the Governor’s property values. Soon, the “Houston County Mafia” will be exposed and current local officials, former local officials, friends and relatives of Sonny Perdue will have some serious explaining to do. And I imagine former US Attorney and current Perdue appointment to the Georgia Supreme Court David Nahmias might have some explaining of his own to do about how all of this managed to go on right under his nose while he kept a blind eye to the whole mess. Illegal $21M bank loans and what really happened when Sonny couldn’t make the payment; the Oaky Woods scandal, which by the way, continues to this very day; the Disney World land deal with a now bankrupt developer who flew Sonny all over the country in his private jet to bird hunt; the sweetheart Jekyll Island development deal that was handed to Sonny’s biggest political contributor; the Governor’s many LLC’s where he is a silent partner and the road projects that are conveniently being built to enhance their values, and the list goes on and on. Lot’s of explaining due from lots of people.
This all out assault on GDOT by the Governor, Gena, and Kev Clarke is going to be disclosed for exactly what it is. An attempt to control GDOT for their personal and political gain. Their fabricated financial crisis has crippled this state and put thousands of Georgians out of work. I, for one, am glad to see that the GDOT board has finally grown some testicles and is taking the proper steps to correct this whole mess. Sonny’s grip on them is gone and all he can do now is throw his occasional tantrum and make is childish threats.
11 more months and Sonny, nobody will even be returning your phone calls. In fact, once the Legislature adjourns, you will be about as relevant to state government as Casey “Oops there goes my back again” Cagle. What goes around, comes around … and judgement day is a short 11 months away.

tc

January 25th, 2010
9:07 am

could someone at ajc clarify what happened on the $21m loan, what was it for, how paid off? i don’t recall much about that episode.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

January 25th, 2010
12:00 pm

tc, to the best of my knowledge, we don’t know is the answer. He won’t answer questions about it and the documents that have been filed haven’t conclusive. Not sure when the last time was we checked on that, but I’ll try and find out for you.

tc

January 25th, 2010
1:49 pm

thanks Aaron, watch ‘em like a hawk!

shaf

January 26th, 2010
12:57 am

Paying for transportation on the backs of future children? this investment is needed badly for our future children; I’m skeptical of how it would be run though; thats the first question that needs to be addressed.

GA Bureaucrat

January 27th, 2010
5:35 pm

The anti Gina Evans screeds are unneccesary. She did a great job making the Georgia Building Authority more fiscally accountable (as noted by the PEW institute for government) and he tapped her to do the same with the DOT. Their very political board didn’t like it. She only ever collected one salary and it was likely far smaller than she could get in private enterprise for the same responsibility.

GA Dawg

January 31st, 2010
9:27 pm

He “tapped” her alright!

GDI insiders

February 7th, 2010
5:12 pm

11 month and counting, it is obvious you do not understand generally accepted accounting principle and fully disclosure when it comes to financial statements. It has been alleged that Mr. Mahfuz told people not to put certain things on the books; however, he mislead people to believe that GDOT had more money than it did which is a crime.

If the DOT really want to impress the people of GA, they would build more rail instead of roads, but I forgot, they do not know anything in that area; nor they care to find out. There are several companies around the world that could help, but you only perfer people of GA to do the work. GDOT should be changed to Georgia Does Not Want Outsider.