Audit questions state's contract with real estate firm - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Audit questions state's contract with real estate firm tied to governor

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The state comptroller's office had strong words Wednesday about an issue first uncovered by the Channel 4 I-Team.

A Department of General Services audit says a private firm with ties to Gov. Bill Haslam had an unfair advantage when it landed a multi-million dollar contract to handle the state's real estate.

The Channel 4 I-Team first reported earlier this year about the state's plan to outsource all its maintenance and management work on state buildings to global real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. That move cost dozens of state employees their jobs.

Haslam did list JLL as one of his more than 200 investments in his 2010 financial disclosure statement, but the governor's office has adamantly said that had nothing to do with the firm getting the contract.

When the state first awarded that contract, it was for $1 million, but the contract now stands at $38 million. The governor's office had said they had always known it would cost more to do the work of managing the state's real estate.

According to the state audit, the Department of General Services did not violate state law when it gave JLL the contract, but it did intentionally enter into a contract that was too broad in scope.

The audit says the contract allows JLL to make recommendations about how the state manages its real estate assets when the corporation can benefit from the very moves it recommends.

The audit says that's a conflict of interest, but the Department of General Services says it's not.

"Prior to this, we had some very serious issues with real estate at the state as far as life and safety. We literally had chunks of buildings falling on people. We had deferred maintenance, which isn't fair to future generations. And we were spending a lot more money than we should have on leases. All of those have been addressed, and I think the state is in a much better position than it was," Haslam said.

The governor's investments are now in a blind trust, so there is now way to know whether or not he still holds investments with JLL.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Audit questions state's contract with real estate firm tied to governorMore>>

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Arguments in Street capital murder trial begin today

    Arguments in Street capital murder trial begin today

    Tuesday, July 25 2017 8:42 AM EDT2017-07-25 12:42:07 GMT

    A Jackson County jury has been seated. Opening arguments begin this morning in the capital murder trial of Scotty Street. Street is accused of stabbing Frankie Fairley to death in 2014 and stealing her van. Officers say Street drove that van to D'Iberville where he reportedly robbed a convenience store. Fairley's body was found in a field not far from her Hurley home. The discovery was one day after family reported her missing.

    More >>

    A Jackson County jury has been seated. Opening arguments begin this morning in the capital murder trial of Scotty Street. Street is accused of stabbing Frankie Fairley to death in 2014 and stealing her van. Officers say Street drove that van to D'Iberville where he reportedly robbed a convenience store. Fairley's body was found in a field not far from her Hurley home. The discovery was one day after family reported her missing.

    More >>
  • Plans to open aviation museum in Gulfport hit road block

    Plans to open aviation museum in Gulfport hit road block

    Monday, July 24 2017 10:49 PM EDT2017-07-25 02:49:43 GMT

    Supporters of what's called the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum said they were recently told much needed repairs can't be made using a $250,000 grant acquired from the state.

    More >>

    Supporters of what's called the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum said they were recently told much needed repairs can't be made using a $250,000 grant acquired from the state.

    More >>
  • Rain puts Pascagoula's new football turf on the clock

    Rain puts Pascagoula's new football turf on the clock

    Monday, July 24 2017 11:09 PM EDT2017-07-25 03:09:56 GMT
    Rain has slowed down construction crews as they attempt to put a new field turf at War Memorial Stadium (Photo Source: WLOX News Now)Rain has slowed down construction crews as they attempt to put a new field turf at War Memorial Stadium (Photo Source: WLOX News Now)

    The Pascagoula Panthers open the 2017 football season on the road. In fact, their first three games are road contests. That scheduling quirk may give field turf crews just enough time to get War Memorial Stadium ready for the September 8 home opener. The wet weather in South Mississippi is placing quite the burden on construction workers as they attempt to complete stadium renovations. The project was suppose to be finished before the beginning of Pascagoula's football season.

    More >>

    The Pascagoula Panthers open the 2017 football season on the road. In fact, their first three games are road contests. That scheduling quirk may give field turf crews just enough time to get War Memorial Stadium ready for the September 8 home opener. The wet weather in South Mississippi is placing quite the burden on construction workers as they attempt to complete stadium renovations. The project was suppose to be finished before the beginning of Pascagoula's football season.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly