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Cape-Coral-Daily-Breeze.com - Cape Coral, FL
March 1, 2010

City Council votes to complete Kessler audit

By Drew Winchester

Cape Coral City Council decided Monday night to complete the so-called "Kessler audit" at a price not to exceed $60,000 - but not without some controversy on the dais.

Councilmember Derrick Donnell thought the timing of the Mayor John Sullivan-sponsored item was suspect, as Monday's meeting was the first without removed councilman Eric Grill.

Grill, often a swing vote, was a staunch opponent to re-opening the audit.

"The timing couldn't be worse (voting on this) the first meeting we have without him sends the wrong message, at least to me," Donnell said. "Now is not the time to talk about Kessler, especially the first day after Grill leaves."

Donnell supported hiring a different firm other than Michael Kessler's to conduct another audit, but said the mayor had not answered three questions he felt pertinent: Why was the item put on the agenda after Grill was removed? How was completing the audit helping the city move froward? And why was there opposition to bringing in another firm?

"I don't understand why we're choosing something to cause controversy," Donnell added.

Sullivan said bringing in another firm to conduct an audit would run the city upwards of $130,000.

He said, too, that the citizens wanted Kessler to finish the audit, and had previously collected 2,000 signatures prior to his mayoral run to prove it.

"Do I want Kessler to return? You bet I do. I spent many hours getting those signatures," Sullivan said.

Whether or not the documentation Kessler needs to complete the audit still exists is unknown.

Councilmember Marty McClain called Kessler's reputation into question, saying that no smoking gun exists to prove that malfeasance occurred between the city and MWH.

"I think you're going to find nothing it'll be a waste of $60,000," he said. "I truly think this is a bad idea."

The proposal passed 43 with McClain, McGrail and Donnell dissenting.

The four council members that voted in favor of restarting the audit, Sullivan, Bill Deile, Pete Brandt and Chris Chulakes-Leetz, all signed the Contract with Cape Coral, which stated that restarting the audit was a priority.

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