Friday, November 06, 2015

Staffer says garage, door projects were Badger’s ideas; Badger denies approving them

Yesterday, the Florida Times-Union reported that an October 28 memorandum by Kendall D. Jones, the FAMU Director of Plant Operations & Maintenance, said that former Board of Trustees Chairman Chuck Badger came up with the ideas for a new garage and a new front door for the on-campus President’s House. But Badger says he didn’t authorize those projects.

The Florida auditor general's office recently asked FAMU Vice-President for Audit and Compliance Richard Givens to look into whether two purchase orders for renovations at the President’s House had received BOT approval. The first was issued February 13, 2014 and was for $300,209.

The minutes of a March 5, 2014 meeting of the BOT Facilities Planning Committee show the Jones made a presentation to the attendees on the President’s House project. Those minutes state that: “Trustee Spurgeon McWilliams (Chair), Trustee Glen Gilzean (by telephone), Trustee Kelvin Lawson, Trustee Kimberly Moore, and Trustee Cleve Warren” were present.

According to the minutes, Jones told the committee members the following about the President’s House project: “The scope of work includes repairs and/or upgrades to HVAC equipment, lighting, windows, doors, roof, electrical, painting, carpet, appliances, etc. Some structure issues will have to be addressed as part of this scope of work per code requirements.”

The minutes also state that: “Chairman McWilliams asked if the President’s House was ready for occupancy. Mr. Jones responded that the interior of the house will be ready by March 21; and the outside will be done thereafter.”

The committee received the report on the President’s House as an information item and didn’t vote on the President’ House project on that date. The full BOT didn’t vote on the project either during its meeting the next day on March 6, 2014.

Jones’s October 28 memorandum also says that “On March 13, 2014, I escorted the former Interim Vice President of Administration and Financial Services (Mr. Joseph Bakker) and the Board of Trustees Facilities Planning Chairmen (Dr. Spurgeon McWilliams) through the President’s House Project site to assess the progress of the project.  During this walk-through the scope of work was thoroughly explained.”

The second purchase order that the Florida auditor general to asked Givens to research was the one for the garage project. It was issued on June 19, 2014 and was for $71,529.

The October 28 memorandum by Jones states the following about the garage and front door projects:
"The President’s House Project was substantially completed in March of 2014.  Lewis + Whitlock (Architect) was issued a purchase order for the President’s Garage project on May 28, 2014 and LLT Building Corporation (Construction Manager) was issued a Notice to Proceed on August 20, 2014.

"In an effort to maintain consistency and continuity on both projects, the same continuing services consultants were retained for both projects.

"The project team developed a project scope of work to construct a garage after former Chairman Chuck Badger expressed concerns for the safety of the President by not providing a garage to park in as a single female living alone.  Based upon these concerns and the collaboration of the University’s project team (Joseph Bakker, Kendall Jones, and Chuks Onwunli), we decided to move forward with constructing a garage.  In addition, Chairman Badger commented that the existing door was not representative of a University President’s House and should be more presidential.  The project team collaborated and decided to replace the existing door with a better quality door.  As a result, the door replacement was added to the project scope of work."
A later update to the November 6, 2015 Times-Union story stated that: “Badger spoke to the Times-Union and denied signing off on the garage or the door.”

The front door project cost $11,519.

Givens responded to Cheryl Buchanan, an audit coordinator for the Florida auditor general, in a memorandum dated October 1.

“I was not able to find approval for the purchase orders by the Board (or Board designee) in the Board minutes or that the Board approved in separate written correspondence,” Givens wrote. “Also, as requested in your e-mail dated October 8, I cannot find documentation that the Board was officially notified of the renovation or garage construction.”

At an emergency BOT conference call on Oct. 22, FAMU General Counsel Avery McKnight said the garage was one of four projects above $10,000 that each took place at the President’s House after the start date of President Elmira Mangum’s contract. He said they weren't presented to the BOT for its approval as required by her contract.

Mangum said she didn’t request or authorize any renovations for the President’s House. She later narrowly survived two unsuccessful motions to terminate her employment.

McWilliams, who voted in favor of both motions for termination, resigned from the BOT on October 28. That was the same day as the date of memorandum by Jones.

Note: This post contains corrections made on January 5, 2016. 

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