Eyewitness News at 6, 8/8/12

6:55 PM, Aug 8, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
  • FILED UNDER

Good evening and thanks for joining us. I'm Leah Johnson.

And I'm Frank Malloy.

Our top story tonight ...an audit of the Bibb County School District is costing nearly four times the amount first quoted by Superinendent Romain Dallemand. ... And some say it's a waste of money.

The district has been paying the audit firm McGladrey Pullen since January.

They've been looking into how the district is run... how finances are handled... and how the board itself operates.

So far... the district has paid out almost 350-thousand dollars.

 

{***SPLIT SCREEN***}

The news came out on a local blog this week. Candace Adorka has more.

Candace?

Frank, Leah...Blogger Bill Knowles found out about the cost through open records requests, and he says according to emails the superintendent sent... the audit went beyond the scope of

{***SOT FULL***}

<"I have a blog called we are politics. Com">

{***VO***}

Bill Knowles says his blog post on Monday was born from a tip.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"from someone in the school system that said that the audit that McGladrey had conducted was well over budget.">

{***VO***}

He says a board member who didn't want their name shared forwarded him emails... School board spokesman Donald Porter confirmed that the dollar amounts were accurate.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"these are the emails that were sent by Dr. Dallemand">

{***VO***}

And through an open records request... He found the cost of the audit so far...

{***SOT FULL***}

<"346,099.55">

{***VO***}

is more than 250-thousand dollars more than was originally quoted to the board.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"right here, it says the third party will cost the district 90-thousand dollars.">

{***VO***}

It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the districts 195-million-dollar general fund... But knowles says that adds up.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"we can't afford to pay teachers what they deserve but we can afford to pay administrators and we can afford to pay 300-thousand dollars for audits. It does not make any sense." >

{***VO***}

Knowles says he hopes the blog post will help hold the district accountable... and he'd like to see an independent investigation... Maybe by the district attorney.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"there's some type of wrongdoing in this, there's a coverup involved because when direct questions are being asked they're not being answered.">

{***VO***}

At last month's meeting, some board members said the board's focus should be on the students... Arguing over things like the email audit offer a distraction.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"do you feel like you're contributing to that? Well it is a distraction but he's cause the distraction, I haven't. The distraction is that we have a superintendent that's out of control.">

{***SOT FULL***}

<"I have a blog called we are politics. Com">

{***VO***}

Bill Knowles says his blog post on Monday was born from a tip.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"from someone in the school system that said that the audit that McGladrey had conducted was well over budget.">

{***VO***}

He says a board member who didn't want their name shared forwarded him emails... School board spokesman Donald Porter confirmed that the dollar amounts were accurate.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"these are the emails that were sent by Dr. Dallemand">

{***VO***}

And through an open records request... He found the cost of the audit so far...

{***VO***}

is more than 250-thousand dollars more than was originally quoted to the board.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"right here, it says the third party will cost the district 90-thousand dollars.">

{***VO***}

It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the districts 195-million-dollar general fund... But knowles says that adds up.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"we can't afford to pay teachers what they deserve but we can afford to pay administrators and we can afford to pay 300-thousand dollars for audits. It does not make any sense." >

{***VO***}

Knowles says he hopes the blog post will help hold the district accountable... and he'd like to see an independent investigation... Maybe by the district attorney.

{***SOT FULL***}

<"there's some type of wrongdoing in this, there's a coverup involved because when direct questions are being asked they're not being answered.">

At last month's meeting, some board members said the board's focus should be on the students... Arguing over things like the email audit offer a distraction.

<"do you feel like you're contributing to that? Well it is a distraction but he's cause the distraction, I haven't. The distraction is that we have a superintendent that's out of control.">

I've asked the school district why the cost of the McGladrey audit went up...and asked for a response from the superintendent...

But so far.... spokesman Donald Porter has not responded.

Frank?

The district might have to shell out even more for the audit. McGladrey is supposed to release another report next month on how the district handles finances.

Computers at the Department of Driver Services in Central Georgia and across the state have been down or sluggish today, due to an outage.

According to Susan Sports, spokeswoman for the State's Department of Driver Services... the computer problem affected hundreds of customers.

Sports says the agency thinks the outage was due to the connectivity of its computer system both state and nationwide.

She says they learned about the problem this morning.

One customer told Eyewitness News that the issue with DDS computers could cost him his license.

<Michael Smith, Macon: "I came up here to show them proof that I had paid a ticket from New Jersey from 15 years ago, and they were going to suspend my license tomorrow if I didn't and they told me that the computers were down and that they couldn't do anything about it until it came back up they say if I don't get it back here, before in their system before midnight tonight, they're going to suspend my license, there is nothing I can do about it even though it's their fault.">

Sports says people who need service right away should check the d-d-s website for wait times... and those who don't need to go right away to just hold off.

That's if the outage continues... But Sports says they think computers will be back up tomorrow.

The race for Bibb County Sheriff may be over *before* the election.

Leah Johnson explains why...

As we begin our Campaign 2012 update.

Republican candidate Shawn Fritz says he plans to leave the race due to health concerns and his workload, which he says will prevent him from campaigning.

That means.... it's possible that Chief Deputy David Davis, the Democratic candidate, might not have opposition for the November election.

Davis told our Kenny Burgamy at Midday - presuming he gets the job, working through consolidation will be the biggest challenge..

<"There's nothing that we can't overcome, there's nothing that we can't meet with all os us working together, with all us working, the sheriff's office, police department and the community, the voters have spoken on consolidation, they said that's what they wanted, the things we have talked about that we were going to do in our campaign - the victim's assistance, the citizen's advocacy, certainly certification, those are things we are still going to work toward implementing.">

Bibb County election supervisor Elaine Carr says.... the state Republican party can pick a new candidate within 24 hours after Fritz leaves the race.

Fritz has not filed the official paperwork yet, but says he plans to do so this week.

From the sheriff's race to the state senate... eight days ago, Johnny Grant lost his bid for re-election in the Republican Party primary to newcomer Burt Jones who now faces a Democratic opponent in the general election. Randall Savage spoke with both candidates vying for the District 25 Senate Seat.

Political newcomer Burt Jones of Jackson raised eyebrows throughout State Senate District 25 by defeating veteran incumbent Johnny Grant of Milledgeville in the Republican primary.

<we were fortunate and felt good about winning the race, but we did. And we're not gonna let the grass grow under out feet cause we've got a Democratic opponent. >

That Democrat is Milledgeville businessman Darrell Black, who says strengthening the economy is THE top issue.

<it's so primary that I can't imagine what's secondary. Milledgeville has one of highest unemployments of any city this size in the State of Georgia. We've been hit hard. Public sector, private sector, we've been hit on both sides.>

Jones says he's got a plan for economic recovery.

<you have to look at different match incentives, tax breaks, things of that nature, obviously because everyone's gonna be fighting for the same industries.>

<District 25 is pretty much a Republican district, and the signs for Republican candidate Burt Jones are all along the roadside. But Darrell Black thinks he can turn this into a Democratic territory>

<it's gonna be a long and winding road. It's not gonna be a quick fix. You cant pull a rabbit out of a hat. You're gonna have to get everybody working together across party lines, across racial lines, across economic lines >

Jones and Black meet in the November general election, and the winner takes office January 1st. Randall Savage, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

District 25 covers 9 counties in Central Georgia including Baldwin...Butts...Jasper...Jones....and Bibb.

Frank?

Tournament play in Warner Robins reaches fever pitch tonight...with the Little League boys once again fighting for a spot in the Southeastern Regional Championship game.

Lorra Lynch Jones is at the ballpark in Warner Robins, where the game got underway just a couple of minutes ago.

Washington Park will soon have a new addition.

Last night Macon City Council approved a request from friends of slain Mercer Law graduate Lauren Giddings.... To put a bench in her memory there.

Brittiny Barber has more on what that means for her family... and the community.

The lush landscape of Washington Park will soon include a memorial to Lauren Giddings... The Mercer Law Graduate who was murdered last summer.

< She had a dog that everybody has heard about, Butterbean, that she'd take for walks and she'd also go running there. IT was just a place where she spent some of her free time. >

Lauren's friends asked Macon City Council to place a memorial bench there in her honor... And Tuesday night that was approved.

Good news for the family who's lost a daughter.. And sister.

<WE're really happy for ourselves obviously to get this bench. I feel like to help the community and all for people who are struggling through this. Hopefully we are the only ones, but I know that's not the case. I mean people have losses all the time all around the world and that they have that chance now to have any kind of memorial. >

<this is not just to honor the memory of Lauren Giddings. The city has passed an ordinance that says that anyone can set up a memorial marker in a city park like this to honor the memory of a lost loved one. It just must meet a few guidelines. >

The city will only accept certain donated items like monuments... Works of art... Playground equipment.. And bench or tables.

It must commemorate a deceased person or a community association who contributed to the City... Honor a place of historic significance... Or recognize someone's life who impacted his or her family or the community as a whole.

To have a memorial set up in a city park.. You must apply at the Public Works Department.

The Parks Division will then assess the request... and make sure it complies with policy.

Brittiny Barber 13wmaz eyewitness news.

To set up a memorial.. the sponsors must agree to cover all costs of the project.

That includes the design.. plaques .. Installation.. and permits, if needed.

Friends plan to dedicate the bench for Lauren Giddings later this month.

Before there was "42"... There was "trouble with the Curve"...that's the Clint Eastwood movie that brought part of Hollywood to Macon for some scene filming this past Spring.

The official release date is set for September 21st...and this week... The studios have released a preview.

As the trailer rolled out... One Macon bar owner says excitement is building at Cheers, where Eastwood shot a scene.

A few pictures of the actor-director's visit now decorate owner... Jim Pierson's... Walls.

When they filmed last spring... Pierson said the movie company changed the decorations... Darkened the windows and renamed the bar Jimmy's.

They gave Pierson the wooden "Jimmy's" sign... And he placed a marker on the bar where Eastwood ate a burger.

Pierson said he watched the trailer.. But couldn't pick out scenes from his bar in the two minute clip.

He says he does know his bar will be in the film... because the film company called to let him know they didn't cut the scenes.

<people that come here on a regular basis will definitely know because they do this. They know the place quite well. They'll know it's their home bar. There won't be any doubt about that.>

Pierson connected with Eastwood at Cheers...and he says the actor actually gave him his phone number.

Pierson says he used it...on Eastwood's 82nd birthday...to call and wish him well.

He also told us... He's going to host a Hollywood Party... Macon-style...at his bar when the movie premieres.

By the way... You can actually see the trailer for yourself. There's a link on our website, 13WMAZ-dot-com.

Tax-free holidays are coming up this weekend in Georgia....

And today in our web poll... We asked if you plan to take advantage of them.

thirty-seven percent of you say yes.

But most of you...sixty-three percent, in fact, say no.

Tax-free days are Friday and Saturday, August tenth and eleventh.

 

Most Watched Videos