Thursday, January 18, 2001

Rhodes excluded from Reds park oversight

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes won't be watching the books at Great American Ball Park.

        Newly elected County Commissioner Todd Portune asked during Wednesday's meeting that Mr. Rhodes' office be involved in selecting a construction auditor to monitor work at the Reds new stadium.

        He also wanted the county auditor to set parameters for the auditing, monitor progress and even be the entity to which the construction auditor reports.

        But neither Commissioner John Dowlin nor Commissioner Tom Neyer supported the idea.

        “I continue to believe we can't have enough help on these matters,” Mr. Portune said. “I don't need any more justification than the experience this community went through at Paul Brown Stadium.”

        Mr. Portune was referring to the $51 million in overruns at the football stadium.

        But Mr. Dowlin and Mr. Neyer said hiring one construction auditor is enough.

        “How many auditors do you need to watch your auditor?” Mr. Dowlin asked. “Maybe we should have an auditor of the auditor of the auditor.”

        Mr. Dowlin said he spoke with Ohio Auditor Jim Petro, who said he will look at what work the construction auditor will perform at the ballpark. That's good enough for Mr. Dowlin.

        “It's appropriate for the auditor to report back to the county's chief executives — which are the commissioners,” Mr. Dowlin said. “This just doesn't make sense.”

        Mr. Rhodes said he is disappointed by the decision because his office could help protect tax dollars.

        “But, hey, if they don't want our help, that's their choice,” Mr. Rhodes said. “We heard from them after Paul Brown Stadium that they've learned their lessons. Apparently, they haven't learned them at all.”

        The county is expected to solicit offers from construction auditors in the next few weeks. The auditor will report to the county's administrative branch.


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