Let us talk about Jones Lang Lasalle, shall we? I think we shall. If you haven’t heard about JLL and state government contracts, you might be interested.
Tax money belongs to all of us and this is what is happening.
I’ll let Bill Freeman explain in his column this week from the Tennessean (subscription possibly required):
In recent days, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has had his own “heckuva job, Brownie,” moment in blithely dismissing a scathing audit of how his administration gave a huge contract to a Chicago real estate firm without bothering to bid the job. It’s a contract — with a company Haslam was invested in before he became governor — that puts the financial interests of the vendor ahead of the taxpayers of Tennessee.
Soon after taking office, Gov. Haslam launched an ambitious program of closing outdated state buildings and moving state workers into leased office space. The basic concept is sound — government should always look for better, more efficient, less costly ways to do business — however, the administration ran off the ethical rails soon after it hired Jones Lang LaSalle in 2011 to study the state’s real estate needs.
That $1 million contract was won through a competitive process — but another firm, CBRE, claims it was the lowest bidder except for a math error. The administration refused CBRE’s request to correct its bid.
Having started on the wrong foot, the Haslam administration then made a series of increasingly questionable amendments in the original contract, expanding the scope of work and vastly increasing the price tag.
Let us revisit recent history from November of last month:
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Oglesby, “The audit was very blunt that JLL cannot be trusted to give impartial advice when it has a profit motive. Do you disagree with that?”
“That’s not the way I read that at all,” the commissioner responded.
So we went back to the audit, and there it was on page 29.
“Because JLL can benefit financially from the advice it renders the state, we believe that it cannot offer unbiased, impartial advice in the state’s best interest,” auditors said.
We asked Oglesby, “So what’s wrong with that statement?”
“Which part of that statement?” he asked.
“That JLL cannot be trusted to give impartial advice when it has a profit motive,” we answered.
“I’m not even sure I understand that comment,” he answered.
As our investigation first revealed, JLL was first awarded a $1 million contract to study the conditions of some of the state’s buildings.
That million dollars quickly grew to almost $8 million as JLL got paid to carry out its own suggestions.
Now, the administration is preparing to pay JLL the additional $5.3 million to study more state buildings — and make more recommendations.
Let’s walk a little further back into July with this story from WPLN:
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says he doesn’t see a problem with granting a state contract to a company he once invested in. Questions have been raised about the state’s new outsourcing agreement with real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
The Chicago-based company secured* a $38 million contract to manage most state-owned properties for the next five years.
Governor Haslam says he’s not sure if he still has a stake in Jones Lang LaSalle because most of his assets were put in a blind trust.
He’s not sure? Let’s look again with Tom Humphrey from June, 2013:
A Democratic legislative leader said Tuesday he will ask legislative committees to review a five-year $330 million contract with the Chicago-based multinational consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle , reports the Commercial Appeal.
Gov. Bill Haslam disclosed an investment in the company while running for governor in 2010, but not the amount of that investment. He now has most of his investments — except for Pilot Flying J — in a blind trust.
Yet didn’t he say he doesn’t know with what’s going on with the IRS/FBI investigation into Pilot Flying J?
When he became governor in January 2011, Haslam put all his financial assets in a blind trust — except for his Pilot holdings. The governor said he has no role in managing the company, though he retains a substantial but undisclosed financial interest.
Haslam said he is leaving management to his brother, CEO Jimmy Haslam , and added, “I have faith and confidence in him.” In fact, the governor said he is not trying to learn any details of what happened and why.
As that is a sidebar, when Haslam was campaigning he did discuss his investments in JLL. All of the governor’s financial assets are not privy to the public, how does the public know what is going on? What is going on here, campers?
As for JLL, Stephen Hale is succulent in three sentences.
It seems that as a candidate, Bill Haslam listed JLL as one of his “major investments.” And, whaddya know, the state recently signed a five-year, $330 million contract with the company to manage the state’s buildings.
So, what’s up with that?
Good question, what is up with that?
What is up with our governor, what he knows, what he doesn’t and what exactly is he doing?