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Mayor backs off of pursuit of utilities audit

By Staff | Feb 28, 2011

Mayor John Sullivan backed off his desire to start a construction/forensic audit for SE 1, SW 4 and SW 5 Monday night, deciding to withdraw the item in favor of possibly putting the audit out for bid.
Sullivan wanted Rich Townsend and Michael Kessler for the long discussed audit.
Sullivan has wanted Kessler to complete an audit he felt was left unfinished, and both campaigned on and pushed the issue from the dais since being elected in 2009.
Sullivan maintains that MWH — the city’s utility contractor — knowingly stole money from the city and evaded Michael Kessler to those ends while he performed his audit.
Sullivan said MWH is guilty of the same efforts in New Orleans and in California, and it is crucial to see how much money, if any, it should repay to Cape Coral.
“These guys are in trouble in New Orleans and California and they should be in trouble here,” Sullivan said.
Michael Kessler threatened to turn over an invoice of roughly $2,100 over to collections late last year, after the mayor engaged the firm for additional work.
Sullivan said he has not talked to Kessler or anyone at that firm regarding this latest audit, so he doesn’t know about the cost estimates associated the audit. Sullivan also said he had not engaged staff to talk with Kessler, either.
City Council could put the audit out for RFP — or Request for Proposals — to see what other audit firms want to take on the job.
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said hiring Kessler and Townsend without the use of a RFP is “putting the cart before the horse.”
“If there’s a procedure we should follow, then we should follow that procedure before we decide to do the audit … it would seem we’re not allowing the best bid for the best service for this job,” he said.
The statute of limitations could also be another deciding factor moving ahead, because if the audit does find malfeasance had occurred by MWH, the city might be running out of time to seek litigation.
To that end, council decided it is pertinent to find out if time has expired.
Councilmember Bill Deile worried the end of the audit would find time having slipped away.
It’s unknown when the audit will again be discussed or come back for yet another vote.