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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gov's Mansion in Tennessee Draws Ire

A Nashville-based taxpayer group took aim at the governor's residence underground expansion plans.

Tennesseans for Accountability in Government met in a large ballroom at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

A room, members said, is only half the size of the underground room planned for the governor's mansion.

The watchdog group claims the finances for the renovations on the mansion have been shrouded in secrecy.

TAG Vice President Susan Kaestner said the group organized the media event to raise public awareness about the proposed $19.2 million renovation and ballroom addition to the Executive Residence.

TAG members took aim at the second phase of the project. Their charge is that the project mushroomed into a large and unnecessary project underwritten by public and private money.

"We demand before the first shovel breaks the ground, the secrecy surrounding this projetc be lifted and the plans and cost be made public by the state," Kaestner said.

But state architect Mike Fitts said everything has been done under the watchful eye of the State Building Commission. He said much of the funding is from private donations.

Fitts said the project has changed somewhat since it was announced four years ago, but "that is not unusual with a project of this scale and complexity."

"The use of state funds has always been contemplated for appropriate parts of the restoration of this state property, but this has been a very public process carried out with the State Building Commission's oversight," he said.

More here.

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