Watchdog group wants Cape Coral auditor
Kessler to return
By Brian Liberatore July 18,
An audit, which two years ago blasted the city's
handling of its utility expansion program, continues to
poison the public's faith in their government, some
council members say.
One local city government watchdog group and more than
1,500 residents say the only way to restore that trust is to
bring back Michael Kessler, author of the controversial
John Sullivan, who heads the Cape Coral Minutemen, has so
far helped collect more than 1,500 signatures from residents
demanding the city rehire Kessler to take a broader look at
its utility expansion program.
While there is support on council for another audit,
others are soured by the thought of another visit from
"I want him back," Sullivan said. "He's the only one that
had the guts to stand up to the city staff and to MWH (the
company overseeing the UEP). The best thing that can happen
is they bring this guy back and he finds nothing wrong. If
this city is ever going to be run right, it needs the trust
of the people."
Mayor Eric Feichthaler agreed the 2006 audit still casts
a cloud over City Hall, but wanted a different auditor. He
claimed there were errors in Kessler's 2006 audit, bad blood
between Kessler and city staff and shaky allegations from
Kessler of wrongdoing.
"I would be very interested in conducting an additional
audit from an independent third party," Feichthaler said. "I
think we need to get another set of eyes."
Accusations in Kessler's audit, which suggested bid
rigging from contractors working on the utility project,
spurred an investigation from the FBI. Nothing has come of
the investigation yet.
Councilman Pete Brandt, who earlier this year pushed to
bring back Kessler, offered support for the Minutemen's
"I think the number (of signatures) was significant,"
Brandt said. "I think people are fed up with a lot things.
They feel that Kessler coming back can help them get over
some of their frustration."
Kessler said he would be willing to take a second look at
the UEP to see where improvements have been made and whether
problems still persisted.
"There is follow-up work that could be done," Kessler
said. "Normal course is once the deficiencies are pointed
out, it would be routine to go back and be sure that
deficiencies are being addressed and the same that things
that were done in the past aren't being done now."
So far, Kessler said he hasn't heard from the city
Sullivan said his group would continue to collect
signatures until the city brought back Kessler.
"We're going to keep running up the score," Sullivan
said. "They (council members) are either going to have to
listen or look pretty foolish."