Commission slams brakes on TEE Center parking deck forensic audit

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, July 17, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta commissioners hit the brakes on a call for a criminal audit of the controversial TEE Center parking deck Tuesday night.

"Bring in the district attorney and the GBI," said visibly upset Commissioner Joe Jackson. "Hell! Bring in the FBI. I don't care."

A 7 to 1 vote killed a recommendation to conduct a forensic criminal audit of the controversial TEE Center parking deck.

Jackson doubts there is any impropriety.

"Do you think that two businessmen, an attorney and an administrator want to do federal time or state time or local time over a bad business deal?" questioned Jackson. "I don't think so."

The drama centers around the $12 million TEE center parking deck that was built on property the city doesn't own. A local group, City Stink, took to the Web raising a stink over the management agreement and calling for the audit.

"It comes down to a special interest group that is pissed off at the local business owners downtown," Jackson said. "The deal was crafted way before we even became commissioners."

"Who is this special interest group that you're referencing?" we asked.

"City Stink," Jackson said.

"I was saddened to hear these commissioners speak this way," said commission candidate and City Stink contributor Lori Davis to commissioners. "I was embarrassed for them and embarrassed for us."

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver says critics should put up or shut up.

"I get so tired of people making allegations of corruption against this government," Copenhaver said. "If people have evidence of corruption, take it to the DA. If you don't ... take it home."

As for Jackson, he is issuing an apparent warning to a certain part of the community.

"Lets go to Laney Walker Bethlehem," Jackson said. "If you want to open Pandora's Box ... let's open it all."

The forensic audit failed on a 7 to 1 vote. The one commissioner voting for it was Commissioner Bill Lockett. Commissioner Alvin Mason and Rev. J.R. Hatney were absent. Commissioners decided to talk about who should manage the parking deck at the next meeting.


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