Timeline of TDOT Contacts with Velma Jones and Related Documents - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Timeline of TDOT Contacts with Velma Jones and Related Documents

Following is a list of contacts between lobbyist Velma Jones and her colleagues at TDOT, along with other developments related to her clients. 

It is based on public records requests and does not include phone or personal contacts for which there might not be a public record.

March 31, 2006: Jones leaves her $65,000-a-year position as the chief of staff to TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely.

April 19, 2006: Jones registers as a lobbyist for Consoer Townsend Envirodyne (CTE) Engineers (a division of AECOM).  She reports that her lobbying activities will focus on "advice and consulting regarding notices issued by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and responses to such" -- apparently, consulting contracts.

April 21, 2006:  TDOT informs CTE that Nicely has chosen them for a "stormwater pollution prevention-erosion control inspection and quality control/quality assurance." Value: $2,000,000.

April 26, 2006:  TDOT informs CTE that Nicely has chosen them for three environmental projects.  TDOT staff had scored CTE lowest of three candidates for each of those contracts.  Nicely says he never saw the scores; instead, he was trying to recognize CTE's good performance on past contracts in 2005 and expand the number of firms involved in TDOT projects. Total value: $589,210

April 27, 2006: Nicely's calendar reflects lunch with Jones at Capitol Grille.  Nicely says he does not recall what they discussed.

May 9, 2006: Notes reflect a phone call to Nicely's office by Jones.  Nicely says he does not recall what they discussed.

May 15, 2006: Nicely's calendar reflects a meeting with Jones, along with CTE/AECOM officials Richard Wolsfeld and Jim Morinec.  Notes show discussions focused on public-private toll roads.  Step one, according to the notes from AECOM's presentation, would be enabling legislation to allow for such deals.  AECOM officials suggested that TDOT conduct a "peer state exercise" to see what other states were doing.

June 13, 2006:  Jones' AECOM clients contribute $3,450 to Bredesen re-election campaign.

June 14, 2006:  Another firm, Wilbur Smith Associates, confirms TDOT's request to conduct a Toll System Feasibility Study.  Among the services to be provided: "5 agency peer reviews" to see what other states are doing.  Also includes study of public-private partnerships.

June 19, 2006: TDOT announces that Nicely has chosen CTE for work on the I-40 interchange at Mt. Juliet Road in Wilson County.  TDOT staff had scored CTE low on its capability to do the job.  Nicely says he never saw the score; instead, he was trying to recognize CTE's good performance on past contracts in 2005 and expand the number of firms involved in TDOT projects. Value: not negotiated yet

June 19, 2006: TDOT environmental chief Ed Cole calls Jones, according to Cole's cell phone records.  Cole says he doesn't recall what they talked about.

July 5, 2006:  Cole approves Toll System Feasibility Study.  State ultimately asks firm to prepare media briefings on the "Path to Public Acceptance" and on TDOT's budgetary situation.

July 7, 2006:  Nicely calls Jones at her office, then on her cell phone, according to his cell phone records.  Nicely says he doesn't remember what they talked about.

July 10, 2006: Jones calls TDOT chief engineer Paul Degges. Message asks him to return the call "today if possible."  Degges calls Jones, according to his cell phone records.  Degges says he doesn't recall what they talked about.

July 11, 2006:  Consultant selection committee -- which includes Degges -- meets to consider firms for statewide project planning contracts.  

July 12, 2006: Jones submits lobbyist registration for AECOM Consult and DMJM Harris (both divisions of AECOM).

July 13, 2006:  TDOT environmental chief Ed Cole calls Jones, according to his cell phone records.  Cole says he doesn't recall what they talked about.

July 25, 2006:  TDOT informs CTE that Nicely has chosen them for a four-year "continuing planning" contract.  Value: $950,000.

Aug. 30, 2006:  TDOT environmental chief Ed Cole meets with Jones and CTE/AECOM's Jim Morinec.  Cole's notes say "this meeting is to update on the meetings with Chairman Pinion and Chairman Norris regarding Toll Roads and Public Private Partnerships."

Sept. 12, 2006: Jones leaves message for TDOT chief of administration Randy Lovett.  He says she was calling on behalf of a TDOT employee who had complained to her about being reprimanded.

Sept. 14 2006: Jones calls TDOT's Jennifer Carter and asked for help in locating an old piece of legislation. E-mails indicate that several TDOT employees got involved and tracked down the legislation for her.

Sept. 24, 2006:  TDOT announces that it will be awarding two-year contracts for "indefinite delivery" of engineering services.

Sept. 25, 2006:  Jones' AECOM clients contribute $4,750 to Bredesen's re-election campaign.

Oct. 6, 2006:  Nicely's calendar reflects meeting Jones with "lunch following."  Here is how Nicely's spokesperson characterizes that meeting:  "Ms. Jones came by as a courtesy to inform the commissioner that she was working with a client on legislation regarding Public, Private, Partnerships and to confirm this would not be a problem for the department.  The commissioner indicated that in concept it should not be a problem, but stressed that such a bill should not be construed as being sponsored or supported by the department or the administration. The commissioner did not see and has not seen the proposed legislation."

Nov. 1: 2006: Associated Press story reports that Rep. Phillip Pinion "says he's drafting measures that would set up a special commission to oversee toll roads and public-private road partnerships."  Pinion later files "Tennessee Tollway Act"  and public-private partnerships legislation.

Dec. 21, 2006:  TDOT announces that Nicely has chosen CTE for a contract for "indefinite delivery of engineering design services."  Value: $600,000.

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