Mayor Wetherington speaks on Parks and Rec investigation - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Mayor Wetherington speaks on Parks and Rec investigation

By Katherine Kington - email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Tuesday night Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington, who called for the initial investigation into the city's Parks and Recreation Department, spoke to the city council and community on his thoughts of the investigation.  He says he stands firmly behind his decisions.

Meanwhile, Stacey Jackson who is the attorney representing Herman Porter, says both Herman and Tony Adams are innocent, they're ready for trial, and they're ready to fight.

Mayor Wetherington told council members, "The revelation that our local tax money has been spent on those who don't even live in our city. This is not acceptable to me, nor the citizens of our community."

Mayor Wetherington said he is most upset that the children in the community have been robbed of opportunities.

His comments come after charges were filed against Tony Adams and Herman Porter. [Click here to read: City parks director and specialist arrested]

They stem from an internal audit and police investigation that all centered around the Park's department's Innovative Sports Program.

"The Parks and Rec has an annual budget of approximately $9 million. That money can, and should be used to touch, and positively change so many young lives in our city," said Wetherington.

Former Columbus Mayor, Frank Martin, says he completely agrees with the mayor. "It's a sad, unfortunate situation because no matter how the facts ultimately come out there is no question that the children who live in this county who should have been served were short changed," said Martin.

The alleged results of the investigation were not just a shock to Columbus tax payers whose money apparently went elsewhere, but to friends of Tony Adam, who say he is a reputable man.

"I trusted him implicitly he cares about the city, he cares about Parks and Rec, very much concerned about young people to try to give them a leg up," said Bob Poydasheff, former Columbus mayor.

In the meantime, the city has asked deputy city manager Lisa Goodwin to oversee daily operations at the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department until further notice. 

Mayor Wetherington told the public Tuesday night one of his main priorities is to rehabilitate the parks department before he leaves as mayor.

News Leader 9 is following this story. We'll have the latest developments in this case as soon as it becomes available. 

Timeline

May 17A 27-page audit was completed by the city's internal auditor John Redmond. In question was $150,000 to fund a traveling Innovative Sports Program, which fields about 470 athletes in boys and girls basketball, boxing and track and field. The Georgia Blazers under-17 elite basketball team operated under the program and was coached by Parks and Recreation director Tony Adams. In the breakdown of the Innovative Sports Program, the auditor recommended that the city stop funding the travel teams and they be funded or sponsored by a non-governmental source.

May 25 - Out-of-town travel funded by the city was suspended and temporarily placed on hold by the Parks and Recreation Department.

May 28 - Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington called for a police investigation into the city's parks department after an audit questioned its spending.

June 2 - Tony Adams hires defense attorney Stacey Jackson, who calls a news conference to say that "Mr. Adams never had a chance to respond to the audit."

June 8 - Tony Adams had until June 8th to respond to the findings in the audit during Columbus Council. Although Adams did not appear before council, with the support of City Manager Isaiah Hugley, Adams suggested breaking the team away from city funding and seeking private investment to continue the teams.

June 21- Attorney Stacey Jackson is now representing a total of nine parks employees. All of them except Adams work in the Recreational Services Division, which manages the city's recreation centers and operates the Innovative Sports Program.

Five of the nine full-time employees in Recreational Services — Margaret Brown, Shelley Stephens, Herman Porter, Gary Freeman and Tim Marshall — are being represented by Jackson.

June 22 - News leader 9 reports that Tony Adams and Herman Porter have hired a second attorney, Don Jackson of The Sports Group in Montgomery, AL.

July 3- A $500,000 pilot program to help at-risk youths was placed on hold by Mayor Jim Wetherington amid the Columbus Parks and Recreation audit and police investigation.

July 13 - Assistant city attorney Jaimie DeLoach said a city computer e-mail search for keywords "Nike" and "contract" produced an e-mail from August 16, 2006 from former Nike basketball marketing manager Don Crenshaw.

Attorney Stacey Jackson, who represents both Adams and Porter, claims that there was never a contract between the parks and recreation department and Nike.

July 14 - Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and Program Specialist Herman Porter were placed on administrative leave with pay pending the results of the investigation. Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin took over the day-to-day operations of the department.

July 15 - The investigation officially became "criminal" in nature.

July 30 - Herman Porter and Tony Adams had their coaching privileges revoked by the city manager's office.

August 24 - Tony Adams and Herman Porter were arrested and face felony charges stemming from the police probe. They are suspended without pay.

August 24 - Stacey Jackson tells News Leader 9 he no longer represents Tony Adams.

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Previous stories
  • City parks director and specialist arrested
  • Parks and Rec Director Tony Adams hires second attorney
  • Parks director and employee on leave pending criminal probe
  • City revokes park director's coaching privileges
  • Mayor Wetherington grilled over battalion chief's allegations
  • City manager to recommend changes to Columbus Parks Dept.
  • Parks director seeks attorney following city audit 
  • Columbus mayor orders probe into parks department
  • Parks pilot program on hold amid department audit
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