Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bridge Gap funding removed from NC budget for Mid Currituck Bridge.

From the Raleigh News &Observer.  I suspect the public money for the Mid-Currituck Bridge could be in grave danger...even before the sideshow began.  I'd say all options including forgery were exhausted.

By Bruce Siceloff and J. Andrew Curliss The News and Observer

RALEIGH -- The Senate Rules Committee chairman launched an investigation today into what he called “fraudulent” letters sent to legislators last week that appeared to reverse the state Department of Transportation’s position on the need for $63 million in start-up money for two toll projects.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican, said DOT officials would be asked to speak at a rules committee hearing Wednesday morning, and representatives of Gov. Bev Perdue’s office would be asked to speak at a second hearing Thursday morning.

The letters were drafted last Thursday morning by Perdue staffers on DOT stationery and over the signature of Jim Trogdon, DOT’s chief operating officer, and appeared to contradict a recommendation Trogdon had made in a June 8 memo to legislative leaders.

Trogdon had said June 8 that DOT would not be ready before fiscal year 2014 to spend proposed “gap” funds for the planned Mid-Currituck Bridge in Currituck County and the Garden Parkway in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties, so he recommended that the legislature find other uses for that money in the budget for 2013. Thursday’s letters to two legislators interested in the projects included a line inserted by Perdue staffers Pryor Gibson and Kevin McLaughlin that said the “funds are needed in this budget cycle.”

Trogdon disavowed and retracted the letters Thursday afternoon and told legislators they had been sent and signed without his consent. By then, the false letters had been cited in floor debate over an unsuccessful amendment to restore the toll road funding to the budget.

“Those simple facts in my mind warrant this committee’s inquiry into the integrity of information provided to the Senate as it goes about its business,” Apodaca said this morning. “This is simply an inquiry. We will go where the facts lead us.”

He went out of his way to absolve Trogdon, a major general in the N.C. National Guard, of any wrongdoing.

“This should not be seen as a reflection on any particular DOT official,” Apodaca said. “Specifically, Gen. Jim Trogdon is one of the finest public servants we have in this state. In conducting this inquiry we in no way question the integrity of Jim Trogdon.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/06/19/2146776/senate-will-probe-fraudulent-dot.html#storylink=cpy