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Investigator: Million-dollar plumber raises audit red flag

1:38 PM, Oct 23, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Did taxpayers get hustled when they paid a plumber nearly a million dollars?  And why hasn't Cleveland City Council tried to figure out what went wrong with an original contract that changed five times without council approval?

Terry the Plumber, better known as Terry Kordiac, told the Investigator Tom Meyer he did not do anything wrong.  "If anything, they (City Hall) owe me. I don't owe them," said Kordiac.

Cleveland City Council has yet to hold hearings on a scathing city audit that was released in June. Several members of the public utilities committee have failed to read the audit.

Councilman Brian Cummins says it's inexcusable.

"What is council doing to really pay attention to these audit findings? This should really raise a red flag," said Cummins.

Among other things, the audit blasts Cleveland Public Power or CPP, of failing to check on the work done by Terry the Plumber and to see if it was done right.

But Terry the Plumber told the Investigator that CPP's top leadership, including commissioner Ivan Henderson,  knew exactly what he was doing and, in some cases, even examined his work.

"I don't think the right hand knows what the left hand is doing," said Kordiac.

Barry Withers, the Director of Public Utilities, refused to answer questions. The Investigator asked Withers if Terry the Plumber did the work the city paid him to do. Withers wished the Investigator a "good morning" and walked away.

One of the members of council's public utilities committee was surprised to learn of the audit findings, four months after Mayor Jackson's office emailed all members of council copies of the audit.

When the Investigator told Councilman Kevin Conwelll about the contents of the audit, Conwell said "oh, that's not good when you tell me something like that."

Councilman Polensek said top management at CPP should be held responsible for the Terry the Plumber contract, which ballooned from $160,000 to $980,000.

But Mayor Jackson failed to discipline the commissioner or his assistants. Instead, CPP slapped an unidentified employee on the wrist, simply reassigning him to other duties.

When city contracts exceed $50,000, council must approve them to insure they're not handed out to family and friends. Auditors say that didn't happen in the case of work done by Terry the Plumber.

The city's law department is conducting an internal investigation, and there could be disciplinary action taken as a result of that probe.

WKYC-TV

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