Saturday, September 04, 2021

Mayor Cooper picks controversial Finance Director with ties to city contractor; Metro Council members voice concerns.

Nashville mayor's finance director pick has ties to controversial city contractor.

Saul Solomon
by: Phil Williams Sep 03, 2021  (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper's pick as interim finance director -- the man in charge of the city's checkbook -- faces new controversy. That nominee, former Metro legal director Saul Solomon, is a lawyer who's been fighting efforts to force a major engineering firm to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Nashville taxpayers. Solomon's connection to that firm, Collier Engineering, has raised eyebrows about Cooper’s decision to nominate him to the city's second most-powerful position.

"It is about perception and perception matters - especially in government," said Metro Council Member Angie Henderson, who has been a frequent critic of Collier's business practices. 

Collier Engineering’s involvement with millions of dollars in the city’s road and sidewalk construction programs has been filled with controversy, especially revelations of its efforts to wine and dine city officials with controls over city contracts. (read more

Metro Council members voice concerns over Saul Solomon's finance director appointment. 

by Cassandra Stephenson, The Tennessean-  Metro Council members are scrutinizing Nashville Mayor John Cooper's suggested appointment of attorney and former executive Saul Solomon as the city's interim finance director. 

Among their concerns: skepticism that Solomon's extensive legal and executive experience equates to the level of financial experience required by Nashville's charter, and worries that Solomon has a conflict of interest due to his past legal representation of Collier Engineering, whose contract with Metro is under years-long investigation. 

"I think Saul has a great reputation as a manager. I think he's got a great reputation as a lawyer. I think he's got a great reputation as a lawyer for municipal government," At-large Metro Council member Bob Mendes said. "But the charter is pretty specific about what's required, and ... it's not clear to me that he meets the criteria of the charter to be finance director." 

...Solomon's appointment to the role will go before the Metro Council for approval on Tuesday where it will need votes from 21 of Nashville's 40 council members to pass. 

..Solomon will fill the role in an interim basis until the city hires a permanent replacement, the charter does not provide for an interim appointment, meaning Solomon's appointment as finance director would not be limited by an interim timeframe. (link)

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