December 3, 2022

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Nashville mayor’s finance director pick questioned

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

That nominee, previous Metro legal director Saul Solomon, is a law firm who’s been preventing efforts to force a major engineering business to repay hundreds of 1000’s of pounds to Nashville taxpayers.

Solomon’s link to that company, Collier Engineering, has raised eyebrows about Cooper’s final decision to nominate him to the city’s second most-effective placement.

“It is about perception and perception issues – especially in government,” said Metro Council Member Angie Henderson, who has been a regular critic of Collier’s small business methods.

Collier Engineering’s involvement with tens of millions of pounds in the city’s street and sidewalk design applications has been crammed with controversy, in particular revelations of its efforts to wine and dine metropolis officers with controls around city contracts.

Related: Controversial engineering business gets $25 million in new Metro contracts

As NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised worries back again in the spring about revenue that Collier billed Metro without having documentation, city lawyers commenced pushing the firm to reimburse taxpayers.

Solomon pushed back towards the city’s attempts, which are on-likely.

Then, just after Henderson participated in a NewsChannel 5 investigation of Collier, Solomon submitted a community records request trying to get her communications with journalists and likely whistleblowers.

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

“It was rather aggressive in my watch,” Henderson recalled, noting that Solomon was pursuing her “personalized cellular phone texts, e-mails for a very lengthy record of points to the advantage of his shopper.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “He was attempting to figure out who was offering you details?”

“Suitable,” she agreed.

As interim finance director, Solomon would sit on the Metro Audit Committee, which investigated his consumer, and on the city’s Procurement Expectations Board, which sets the regulations for those firms accomplishing business enterprise with the town.

“A lot of the dialogue about some concerns, strengths, weaknesses in that room, in our audit, in our procurement specifications has been really unique to the agency that he has been extremely publicly representing,” Henderson reported.

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

“In truth, without a doubt,” she agreed.

Cooper spokesperson Andrea Fanta defended Solomon’s nomination.

“As an executive in the private sector and the head of two govt companies, Mr. Solomon has managed budgets and asset portfolios that collectively stand for billions of pounds,” Fanta said in an e mail.

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

In a afterwards e mail, Fanta said that Solomon would be governed by ethics procedures that require him to “put Metro’s interests very first and previously mentioned any other folks.”

“Mr. Solomon has currently said he will recuse himself from any and all choices and discussions involving any entities that could pose a conflict of curiosity or the notion of a person (such as Collier’s Engineering and Nashville Soccer Club),” she ongoing.

“Also, Mr. Solomon is further more bound by ethical rules put upon him as an attorney.”

Council Member Bob Mendes has publicly questioned whether or not Solomon has the proper qualifications for the occupation.

“The charter demands that the director of finance has a established background in community or private finance, and Mr. Solomon only doesn’t examine either box,” Mendes informed NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

Mendes stated he also problems about how the city can be certain that the interim director of finance is locked out of any details concerning his customer.

“Everything connected to the procurement difficulties surrounding Collier Engineering, he need to definitely be excluded from that if he is appointed. There are functional queries about irrespective of whether that tends to make satisfying the purpose possible. You know, can you have a director of finance who is essentially not involved in crucial procurement concerns?”

Neither the mayor’s business office nor Mr. Solomon responded to our ask for for remark about the opportunity conflicts of interest.

The mayor’s workplace states it looks forward to making the scenario for the Metro Council’s acceptance future 7 days.