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You can ask questions. You can’t always get answers.
Tiffany Couch, a forensic accountant and founder of the Acuity Group, was hired by David Madore to help decipher the deluge of documents provided under the Freedom of Information act in regards to the Columbia River Crossing Light Rail project. She shared her findings at Saturday’s Bridging the Gaps event.
“You’ve given us a lot of data, but you haven’t given us any information,” Couch said she told the Washington Department of Transportation.
Her presentation during the Bridging the Gaps event noted that she cannot connect $108 million with actual invoices or vouchers, $15 million didn’t have a vendor name, and $38 million didn’t have a code. Couch told the audience she asked the state three times for this information but it was never provided.
Citizens let loose angry hoots, the biggest audience response of the day, at how the bridge process was proceeding, especially when Couch noted that the state was in escrow on property before the bridge design had even been decided and before the placement of the bridge confirmed.
The biggest concern Couch expressed dealt with David Evans and Associates. Publicly David Evans and Associations claim receipt of $28 million, but according to documents provided by the state the figure swells to $77 million. When she asked the state to provide a copy of the contract with David Evans and Associates she was told it would be very difficult.
“That is a red flag,” she said.
Couch asked why legislators have not provided accountability. “Let’s just stop the bleeding. It’s embarrassing and it’s not something we can feel good about, but let’s say we’ve made a $103 million mistake – we haven’t made a $10 billion* mistake yet.”
Tiffany Couch provided her contact information, email@example.com so that anyone with information helpful to the investigation can contact her. Anonymous email is fine.
The above report is a summary of Couch’s presentation at the “Bridging the Gaps” event, which was organized by David Madore.
* The well-documented cost to taxpayers, if the CRC stays on budget, is $10 billion. This was established by the Cortright Report (PDF) which used data from an independent review panel hired by the governors of Washington and Oregon. (View the panel’s final report.)
See our continuing coverage of the Columbia River Crossing Light Rail project.
Do you have information to share on the CRC? To respond anonymously call 260-816-1426. To allow your comments to be used on COUV.COM call 260-816-1429.