Nashville mayor’s finance director pick questioned

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s decide as interim finance director — the man in demand of the city’s checkbook — faces new controversy.

That nominee, former Metro lawful director Saul Solomon, is a attorney who’s been combating attempts to drive a big engineering business to repay hundreds of countless numbers of dollars to Nashville taxpayers.

Solomon’s relationship to that company, Collier Engineering, has lifted eyebrows about Cooper’s selection to nominate him to the city’s 2nd most-strong situation.

“It is about notion and perception issues – especially in authorities,” explained Metro Council Member Angie Henderson, who has been a regular critic of Collier’s organization techniques.

Collier Engineering’s involvement with thousands and thousands of bucks in the city’s highway and sidewalk design packages has been stuffed with controversy, in particular revelations of its initiatives to wine and dine city officers with controls around city contracts.

Related: Controversial engineering company receives $25 million in new Metro contracts

As NewsChannel 5 Investigates elevated problems back in the spring about funds that Collier charged Metro without the need of documentation, town attorneys commenced pushing the business to reimburse taxpayers.

Solomon pushed back against the city’s efforts, which are on-heading.

Then, soon after Henderson participated in a NewsChannel 5 investigation of Collier, Solomon filed a community documents ask for trying to find her communications with journalists and probable whistleblowers.

At the time, Solomon was also serving as the interim govt director for MDHA, the Metro Development and Housing Company.

“It was pretty intense in my see,” Henderson recalled, noting that Solomon was pursuing her “personalized cell phone texts, emails for a quite extended checklist of points to the advantage of his consumer.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates questioned, “He was attempting to figure out who was giving you facts?”

“Proper,” she agreed.

As interim finance director, Solomon would sit on the Metro Audit Committee, which investigated his customer, and on the city’s Procurement Standards Board, which sets the regulations for those firms executing business with the city.

“A great deal of the dialogue about some considerations, strengths, weaknesses in that area, in our audit, in our procurement standards has been pretty certain to the business that he has been really publicly representing,” Henderson reported.

NewsChannel 5 observed, “And he has pushed again vigorously.”

“Indeed, in truth,” she agreed.

Cooper spokesperson Andrea Fanta defended Solomon’s nomination.

“As an executive in the personal sector and the head of two federal government businesses, Mr. Solomon has managed budgets and asset portfolios that jointly depict billions of dollars,” Fanta stated in an e mail.

“He is a superior-caliber leader with an unquestionable dedication to Nashville.”

In a later on email, Fanta reported that Solomon would be governed by ethics procedures that need him to “place Metro’s pursuits to start with and higher than any other folks.”

“Mr. Solomon has currently said he will recuse himself from any and all decisions and discussions involving any entities that could pose a conflict of curiosity or the perception of a single (which includes Collier’s Engineering and Nashville Soccer Club),” she continued.

“Moreover, Mr. Solomon is further more sure by moral restrictions put on him as an attorney.”

Council Member Bob Mendes has publicly questioned regardless of whether Solomon has the right qualifications for the job.

“The constitution involves that the director of finance has a verified background in public or private finance, and Mr. Solomon simply doesn’t check either box,” Mendes informed NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

Mendes claimed he also worries about how the town can ensure that the interim director of finance is locked out of any facts regarding his consumer.

“Everything similar to the procurement concerns encompassing Collier Engineering, he should really definitely be excluded from that if he is appointed. There are practical inquiries about no matter whether that helps make satisfying the role doable. You know, can you have a director of finance who is essentially not involved in crucial procurement troubles?”

Neither the mayor’s business nor Mr. Solomon responded to our request for remark about the likely conflicts of curiosity.

The mayor’s workplace suggests it appears ahead to producing the situation for the Metro Council’s acceptance subsequent 7 days.