Here’s a timeline of events in the Columbus Parks and Recreation controversy:
September 2009 — Mayor Jim Wetherington orders an extensive operational audit of Parks and Recreation. Internal auditor John Redmond starts the audit.
March 2010 — Redmond concludes field work on the audit and has exit interview with Parks and Rec Director Tony Adams.
May 17 — Redmond sends Wetherington a draft copy of audit. Mayor’s office sends it to council and City Manager Isaiah Hugley. Ledger-Enquirer obtains a copy of the audit.
May 18 — The Ledger-Enquirer reports the wide-ranging internal audit raises questions about procedures and management, but points to no criminal wrongdoing.
May 25 — Parks and rec suspends a city-run recreation program that fields developmental and elite sports teams, the Ledger-Enquirer reports. The Innovative Sports Program is “temporarily placed on hold,” Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin says.
May 25 — East Marietta Basketball Inc., a nonprofit organization that handles Nike sponsorship money for the elite basketball team, refuses to disclose its contract with Nike. The Ledger-Enquirer requests the contract under the Georgia Open Records Act.
May 28 — Wetherington orders a police investigation. The mayor calls it an administrative probe that is not criminal.
May 29 — The Ledger-Enquirer reports, after obtaining information on the program through the Open Records Act, that arks and rec runs a youth basketball program where more than half of the 152 players come from outside the city.
May 28-30 — The elite travel team plays in a Nike-sponsored event in Los Angeles. Adams, the head coach, does not travel with the team at the direction of the city manager’s office. One of the team’s 13 players is from Columbus.
June 2 — Adams hires defense attorney Stacey Jackson, who calls a news conference where he says, “Mr. Adams never had a chance to respond” to the audit. Jackson says he is representing other members of the department, but does not name them.
June 3 — Reports reveal parks and rec fired internal auditor John Redmond’s son 12 years ago. Wetherington says he doesn’t think it “taints” the audit.
June 6 — The city attorney’s office asks the Georgia Attorney General’s office for an opinion on the Nike contract the newspaper’s trying to get from East Marietta Basketball Inc.
June 6 — Stacey Jackson informs the newspaper he is also representing William Fox, East Marietta Basketball Inc.’s director of basketball operations, in regard to the Open Records Act request.
June 8 — During a council meeting, Goodwin and Hugley respond to the audit findings. Adams is not at the meeting on advice of his attorney. Hugley says he would consider “the matter closed” after arranging a meeting between the auditor and Adams to work out what the city manager terms “misunderstandings.” He also says he will convene a committee to look at other programs that serve out-of-town residents, specifically city golf courses where residents from other counties come to play.
June 13 — With information obtained through the open records act, The Ledger-Enquirer reports that in two years only the city’s three public safety agencies spent more on out-of-town travel than parks and rec’s Innovative Sports Program.
June 16 — The Ledger-Enquirer reports that two Parks & Rec employees who work with the Innovative Sports Program are officers in a nonprofit corporation formed nearly two years ago. H.O.P.E.S. — an acronym for Helping Other People Experience Sucess (“success” is misspelled in documents on file with the Georgia Secretary of State) — was incorporated on Aug. 5, 2008. Shelley Stephens, who runs the Innovative Sports track and field program, is the registered agent and chief executive officer, according to state records. Herman Porter, who works with Innovative Sports basketball program, is the chief financial officer.
June 18 — Claiming Jackson is their attorney, Assistant City Attorney Jaimie DeLoach sends him an e-mail saying parks and rec workers are refusing to talk with investigators. Jackson and DeLoach talk, and DeLoach sends him an e-mail saying she understands he represents Adams, Porter, Stephens, Margaret Brown, Gary Freeman, Tim Marshall, Eric Allen, Jonathan Lawrence and Bryant Thomas. Jackson does not respond.
June 22 — Adams and Porter hire an additional attorney, Don Jackson of Montgomery. Adams and Porter “are caught in the middle of a political witch hunt,” Don Jackson says. Porter calls for the investigation to be transferred from the police department to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation or the attorney general’s office. Stacey Jackson declines to say who he is representing. Police Chief Ricky Boren says the investigation is continuing.
June 22 — Hugley, at the request of Wetherington, directs parks and rec workers to cooperate with the investigation or face disciplinary action.
June 25 — Stacey Jackson contacts the newspaper to say he represents only Adams, Porter, Stephens, Brown and East Marietta Basketball’s Fox. He says he never represented the other five parks and rec employees.
July 2 — Through Stacey Jackson, East Marietta Basketball Inc. declines to give the Ledger-Enquirer records related to the Nike contract with the city-funded team. The nonprofit organization does not fall under the state open records law, Jackson says.
July 6 — The Ledger-Enquirer reports that Fox, a director with Youth Basketball of America-Georgia, promotes two or more basketball tournaments a year in Columbus. He gets a bid fee from the Sports Council and free rent for city gyms. When Fox uses Columbus State University facilities, the city pays for rent, security, clean up and medical services.
July 7 — The Georgia attorney general’s office pursues a request from the city to obtain information from a East Marietta Basketball regarding the Nike sponsorship. The attorney general’s office likely will issue an opinion on whether the nonprofit falls under the law.
July 11 — Deborah Colon, whose son Robert played for the Blazers, tells the Ledger-Enquirer she complained to Adams about Robert’s not making the main travel team this season. She says Adams told her he needed spots for out-of town players. “He told me to worry about my child and he would worry about the other folks,” Colon says. “He said, ‘This is bigger than what you think — it’s all about business.’”
July 14 — The Columbus police probe of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department turns into a criminal investigation. Adams and Porter are placed on administrative leave with pay. This comes after the city attorney’s office uncovers two e-mail exchanges between Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and executives at sports-gear giant Nike, in which the correspondents refer to a “contract.” Stacey Jackson, who represents not only Adams and some of his subordinates but also the nonprofit East Marietta Basketball, a Nike beneficiary, maintains neither the Parks and Recreation Department nor its traveling basketball team the Georgia Blazers has a contract with Nike or with East Marietta Basketball.
July 21 — Columbus police have “consulted” the Muscogee district attorney about their ongoing investigation into the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, District Attorney Julia Slater says.
July 21-26 — Adams and Porter take three Georgia Blazers teams to Orlando for the AAU Super Showcase event. The city does not fund the trip, which was paid for from private contributions, attorney Don Jackson says.
July 22 — The Columbus city attorney’s effort to get details from Nike about the company’s sponsorship agreement with the city-funded youth basketball team is unsuccessful. Assistant City Attorney Jamie DeLoach approached Nike attorney John Metterazzo and requested a copy of the contract, which the city has been unable to obtain for nearly two months. Ÿ July 26 — The city manager sends Adams and Porter letters by registered mail telling them to “refrain from coaching and participating in any city sponsored athletic event or team activity” while on administrative leave.
— Compiled by Chuck Williams.