NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s decide on as interim finance director — the guy in cost of the city’s checkbook — faces new controversy.
That nominee, former Metro legal director Saul Solomon, is a attorney who’s been combating endeavours to power a main engineering company to repay hundreds of thousands of bucks to Nashville taxpayers.
Solomon’s link to that company, Collier Engineering, has elevated eyebrows about Cooper’s conclusion to nominate him to the city’s second most-highly effective place.
“It is about notion and perception matters – especially in govt,” claimed Metro Council Member Angie Henderson, who has been a recurrent critic of Collier’s small business procedures.
Collier Engineering’s involvement with thousands and thousands of dollars in the city’s highway and sidewalk development applications has been filled with controversy, in particular revelations of its endeavours to wine and dine metropolis officials with controls about town contracts.
Relevant: Controversial engineering business receives $25 million in new Metro contracts
As NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised worries back in the spring about funds that Collier charged Metro without documentation, metropolis lawyers began pushing the business to reimburse taxpayers.
Solomon pushed back again from the city’s endeavours, which are on-going.
Then, just after Henderson participated in a NewsChannel 5 investigation of Collier, Solomon submitted a general public records request trying to get her communications with journalists and opportunity whistleblowers.
At the time, Solomon was also serving as the interim govt director for MDHA, the Metro Advancement and Housing Company.
“It was fairly aggressive in my see,” Henderson recalled, noting that Solomon was pursuing her “personalized cellular phone texts, email messages for a incredibly long record of things to the reward of his shopper.”
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “He was making an attempt to figure out who was providing you data?”
“Accurate,” she agreed.
As interim finance director, Solomon would sit on the Metro Audit Committee, which investigated his consumer, and on the city’s Procurement Standards Board, which sets the procedures for those companies performing company with the metropolis.
“Substantially of the dialogue about some issues, strengths, weaknesses in that space, in our audit, in our procurement standards has been quite specific to the organization that he has been incredibly publicly representing,” Henderson explained.
NewsChannel 5 observed, “And he has pushed back again vigorously.”
“Without a doubt, in fact,” she agreed.
Cooper spokesperson Andrea Fanta defended Solomon’s nomination.
“As an government in the non-public sector and the head of two governing administration organizations, Mr. Solomon has managed budgets and asset portfolios that with each other characterize billions of bucks,” Fanta explained in an e mail.
“He is a high-caliber chief with an unquestionable dedication to Nashville.”
In a later on email, Fanta claimed that Solomon would be governed by ethics guidelines that require him to “set Metro’s interests very first and earlier mentioned any some others.”
“Mr. Solomon has currently mentioned he will recuse himself from any and all choices and discussions involving any entities that could pose a conflict of desire or the notion of a single (which includes Collier’s Engineering and Nashville Soccer Club),” she continued.
“In addition, Mr. Solomon is further bound by moral laws put upon him as an legal professional.”
Council Member Bob Mendes has publicly questioned irrespective of whether Solomon has the appropriate credentials for the job.
Fascinating nuance on the Council agenda for next week. The Charter doesn’t allow for an interim Director of Finance. The notes on the agenda say Mr. Solomon would be “interim”, but if approved, he would maintain the official Charter placement of “Director of Finance.” pic.twitter.com/ZCWzkYtCGX
— Bob Mendes (@mendesbob) September 2, 2021
“The constitution demands that the director of finance has a proven qualifications in public or private finance, and Mr. Solomon just does not check both box,” Mendes told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
Mendes reported he also worries about how the metropolis can ensure that the interim director of finance is locked out of any data relating to his consumer.
“Anything at all similar to the procurement troubles surrounding Collier Engineering, he ought to absolutely be excluded from that if he is appointed. There are realistic issues about irrespective of whether that would make satisfying the function probable. You know, can you have a director of finance who is essentially not concerned in vital procurement difficulties?”
Neither the mayor’s business office nor Mr. Solomon responded to our ask for for comment about the potential conflicts of fascination.
The mayor’s business office suggests it appears to be like ahead to building the situation for the Metro Council’s acceptance up coming week.