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February 7,  2014     Chairman  Ketchum:     Please  accept  this  letter  as  my  closing  communication  as  OOCEA  Executive  Director,   in  fulfilling  my  duty  to  the  people  of  Central  Florida.    While  my  time  there  was  brief,   the  issues  we  dealt  with  are  serious  and  require  documentation  and  follow  up  by   the  Authority.     I  identified  five  pressing  issues  that  demand  immediate  Board  attention:     1) Innovation  Way  –  As  I  discussed  with  you  and  the  other  Board  members  in   your  briefings,  the  proposed  agreement  as  it  now  stands,  that  I  had  the  Board   delay  action  upon,  will  have  a  severely  negative  impact  on  the  finances  of  the   Authority.    The  costs  to  the  Authority  for  this  interchange  have  increased   almost  $20  million  from  previously  programmed  costs.    I  advise  revisiting   the  terms  of  this  agreement.     Per  my  OOCEA  staff,  this  item  was  rushed  on  the  agenda  just  prior  to  my   starting  work,  at  the  request  of  Orange  County  staff,  under  the  premise  that   failing  to  do  so  would  hold  up  a  major  land  use  amendment  transmittal.     Senior  County  staff  later  relayed  directly  to  me  that  there  was  no  potential   delay,  therefore  no  need  to  rush.     A  previous  version  of  this  agreement  had  the  County  contributing  a  fair  share   of  almost  $6  million  due  to  the  need  for  local  access,  and  to  increase  the   development  potential  of  adjacent  properties.    However  the  most  recent   version  of  this  agreement  had  the  County  contributing  only  $500,000,  thus   shifting  a  significant  burden  to  toll  payers  that  should  likely  have  been  paid   by  the  developer  or  by  the  County.     I  was  advised  that  the  County  wanted  to  redirect  this  money  towards   incentives  to  bring  other  businesses  to  Central  Florida.    Whatever  the  case   may  be,  jeopardizing  the  good  credit  of  this  authority  and  removing  capacity   for  future  road  construction  is  not  good  policy,  and  using  OOCEA  toll  payer   funds  to  give  to  private  businesses  is  a  terrible  precedent.     2) All  Aboard  Florida  Funding  Shortfall  –  The  All  Aboard  Florida  agreement  that   you  and  the  Board  approved  under  Mr.  Crumit’s  direction  has  a  requirement   that  OOCEA  fund  a  $58  million  line  item,  that  staff  indicated  internal  financial   plans  and  models  show  OOCEA  does  not  adequately  have  the  resources  to   satisfy.     Further,  staff  indicated  that  OOCEA  will  not  be  able  to  make  this  payment  at   closing  without  either  seriously  negatively  impacting  the  work  program,   possibly  delaying  the  Wekiva  Parkway,  or  drawing  down  reserves  that  are   required  to  bolster  the  Authority’s  bond  ratings,  to  keep  borrowing  costs   low.    


I was  advised  that  Mr.  Crumit  contended  that  he  had  a  “side  deal”  wherein   someone,  possibly  the  FDOT,  a  private  developer  or  All  Aboard  Florida,   would  fund  this  shortfall.    In  my  brief  due  diligence  I  found  no  document  or   agreement  to  this  effect.    As  such,  the  OOCEA  is  the  only  party  contractually   bound  to  fund  this  as  of  now,  and  barring  a  goodwill  contribution  from  the   above,  you  must  begin  preparations  to  handle  this  pressing  obligation.       Combined,  the  Innovation  Way  cost  increases  and  All  Aboard  Florida  budget   shortfall  account  for  $78  million  in  unprogrammed  commitments.    I  have  also   been  made  aware  of  additional  right-­of-­way  acquisition  cost  shortfalls  that   may  total  tens  of  million  more  dollars.    It  is  imperative  that  a  plan  be  developed   to  deal  with  these  costs,  as  the  implementation  of  the  major  projects  in  the   Authority  Work  Program,  so  critical  to  our  economy  here  in  Central  Florida,  is   likely  to  be  severely  negatively  impacted.     3) Back  office/CCSS  Consolidation    -­‐  Under  your  direction  and  as  the  Executive   Director  for  OOCEA,  I  voted  on  the  short  listing  process  for  the  CCSS.    I  do  not   believe  this  will  negatively  impact  the  process  but  you  should  be  aware  and   confirm  that  is  the  case  given  the  specifics  of  my  departure.    

4) SB 230/Central  Florida  Expressway  Legislation  –  The  Board’s  absence  in   taking  a  position  on  this  issue  has  potentially  done  extraordinary  damage  to   the  Authority.    Specifically,  your  failure  to  communicate  with  Senator   Simmons  a  consensus  Board  position,  and  concerns  that  proposed  language   related  to  the  Osceola  County  Expressway  Authority  could  allow  them  to   remain  independent,  jeopardizes  the  very  idea  of  a  regional  authority.  

5) OOCEA  Senior  Leadership  –  During  the  process  of  my  selection  as  Executive   Director,  your  actions  as  chairman,  the  Mayor’s  comments  about  EEOC  policy   and  the  intervention  of  the  State  Attorney  have  sufficiently  clouded  the   hiring  process  to  a  point  that  I  recommend  you  start  over  from  the  beginning,   but  act  diligently.    

Your actions  and  conscious  delay  of  the  process,  along  with  Mr.  Crumit’s   termination  of  the  Chief  Financial  Officer  prior  to  his  departure,  have  left  the   ship  completely  leaderless  for  many  months  during  a  critical  time  in  the   Authority’s  history.    First  hand  I  have  seen  that  morale  is  damaged  at  every   level  of  the  OOCEA,  and  a  full-­‐time  leader  must  be  brought  in  free  from   collateral  damage.  

I  would  also  offer  the  following  important  recommendations  moving  forward:     A) Comprehensive  External  Audit  of  OOCEA  Financials  –  The  Board  should   immediately  retain  and  empower  an  outside  auditor  to  come  in  and  fully   understand  the  funding  commitments  and  capabilities  of  the  Authority.     I  had  hoped  to  be  able  to  help  the  Authority  avoid  raising  tolls.    It  appears   that  what  you’ve  done  over  the  last  year  or  so  has  now  boxed  you  into  either   raising  tolls  automatically  as  you  have  already  voted  to  do,  or  delaying  


projects that  are  crucial  to  our  economy  and  to  which  you  have  already   committed  the  Authority  –  and  perhaps  both.    Absence  of  a  disciplined   management  approach  and  a  lack  of  institutional  control,  combined  with  a   lack  of  information  as  to  the  extent  of  these  commitments  led  you  to  this   point.    I  would  advise  getting  real  clarity  on  the  issue  before  further  damage   is  done.     B) Obtain  an  All  Aboard  Florida  Deal  Summary  –  The  Board  must  be  provided   with  a  comprehensive  “road  map”  of  expenditures  and  commitments  the   Authority  has  made  as  it  relates  to  this  important  and  valuable  project.    I   have  never  seen  or  been  involved  with  a  major  project  so  lacking  in  summary   documentation  and  analysis  of  the  comprehensive  deal.    Despite  my  many   requests  to  various  staff  members  and  your  consultants,  I  received  nothing   even  approaching  such  a  list.    

General Counsel  Passiatore  jokingly  referred  to  it  as  “Max  Crumit’s  Rubik’s   Cube,  existing  only  in  his  head”.    Unfortunately  this  description,  combined   with  the  possible  “side  deal”  to  substitute  $58  million  in  other  people’s   money  for  money  to  which  OOCEA  is  contractually  obligated,  paints  a  terrible   picture  of  a  lack  of  management  discipline,  institutional  control,   transparency  and  accountability  to  toll  payers,  citizens,  bond  rating  agencies   and  the  bondholders.   C)   Immediately  update  the  5  Year  Work  Program  –  The  lack  of  leadership  over   the  last  6  to  8  months  has  allowed  the  annual  update  of  the  work  program  to   languish.    You  must  have  a  financially  feasible  work  program  to  guide  the   Authority’s  efforts,  financial  plans  and  investments.    This  lack  of  leadership  is   contributing  to  the  instability  in  the  overall  financial  plan.  

Finally,  I  would  like  to  comment  on  your  actions  related  to  my  hiring  as  the   Executive  Director.     First,  the  manner  in  which  the  job  search  was  managed  was  embarrassingly  bad  for   the  Authority  on  many  levels.    One  only  has  to  count  the  number  of  news  articles   and  broadcasts  much  less  read  or  see  them  all,  to  get  a  feel  for  the  problem.     You  joined  the  mayor  in  supporting  Max  Crumit  as  director,  who  oddly  enough   would  have  been  unqualified  to  be  rehired  by  the  Authority  under  the  qualifications   that  you  set  forth  in  the  hiring  process.    You  then  allowed  candidates  to  be   shortlisted  and  vetted  that  did  not  meet  the  strict  interpretation  of  those   qualifications.    You  further  made  those  qualifications  an  issue  in  my  hiring,  even   after  you  had  months  earlier  personally  told  me  that  I’d  make  a  fine  Executive   Director  for  the  Authority  if  I  applied.    Your  actions  led  me  down  a  road  that  you   must  have  known  was  a  dead  end.     The  hiring  process  dragged  on  far  too  long.    You  let  months  go  by  when  nothing   happened.    Morale  at  the  Authority  was  damaged,  deals  weren’t  completed,  the  CFO   has  not  been  replaced,  the  Work  Program  Update  has  lapsed,  deadlines  were  missed  


and the  opportunity  to  constructively  participate  in  a  discussion  of  the  future  of  the   Authority  with  the  legislature  has  perhaps  been  lost.     After  a  majority  of  the  Board  voted  in  support  of  me  (whom  I  believe  that  in  this   process  and  in  general  have  been  trying  hard  to  do  the  right  thing)  you  negotiated   with  me  in  what  appears  to  be  bad  faith.    After  sealing  a  final  and  binding   employment  agreement  with  me,  noting  to  the  Board  that  we  had  “successfully   negotiated  a  contract”,  having  me  start  at  the  Authority  and  formally  act  as   Executive  Director  for  several  days  including  handing  over  full  access  to  staff,   consultants  and  all  sensitive  information,  you  then  proposed  an  amendment  to  my   employment  agreement  substantially  altering  and  repudiating  the  agreement  and   terminating  my  employment.     This  has  damaged  my  family.    We  spent  a  large  amount  in  legal  fees  to  establish  a   blind  trust  and  negotiate  the  employment  agreement  you  later  repudiated.    I  walked   away  from  my  final  session  in  the  legislature,  forfeiting  almost  a  full  year’s   participation.    Those  are  opportunities  and  costs  to  us  that  are  wasted.     More  egregious  than  all  of  the  above  though,  appears  to  be  your  backdoor  dealings.     In  comments  you  made  to  me,  and  which  I  subsequently  confirmed  through  others,   you  indicated  that  you  worked  with  the  State  Attorney  in  advance  on  his  letter  to   the  Authority.    You  claimed  to  have  “crafted”  the  Ashton  letter  with  him,  attacking   my  employment  and  using  me  as  a  pawn  in  requesting  the  Board  hold  off  on   changes  in  leadership  (meaning  as  you  said  to  keep  you  as  Chairman),  and  to  hang  a   cloud  over  my  employment  as  negotiated.    I  could  only  surmise  that  your  intent  was   to  lay  the  groundwork  to  dismiss  me  in  short  order.    This  behavior  is  morally  and   ethically  wrong,  as  well  as  wrong  on  so  many  other  levels.     The  people  of  central  Florida  deserve  to  know  these  things,  and  I  believe  deserve   much  better.     Respectfully,       Steve  Precourt,  P.E.     CC:   Vice-­‐Chairman  Scott  Batterson   FDOT  District  Secretary  Noranne  Downs   Board  Member  Marco  Pena     Orange  County  Mayor  Teresa  Jacobs  

Precourt ketchum letter  

Former Rep. Precourt letter of resignation to OOCEA. "The letter also claims that toll payers will have to hand over $58 million to All Abo...

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