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Lake House Independent Review Could Cost RA Just $1

by Karen Goff September 20, 2016 at 4:30 pm 22 Comments

Lake House May 2016The Reston Association Board of Directors will vote on Thursday on hiring Mediaworld Ventures LLC to conduct the independent review of the Lake House overrun.

A committee of citizens and RA Board members voted 4-3 last week to choose Mediaworld, a Reston-based company that will use Reston Association members to conduct the review. The price is right: Mediaworld is charging RA just $1 for the investigation.

The Board decided at previous meetings that the review needed to be done by professionals, but also warned that the review may cost into the six figures if paying the going rate.

After renovations at Lake House (formerly the Tetra Building) were found to be nearly triple what RA initially estimated, RA moved $430,000 from its operating budget to cover the deficit.

The money has since been replaced, says RA CEO Cate Fulkerson.

However, RA organized a panel to choose a professional firm to “review of the processes and internal controls that were followed across the organization in handling all decision-making, governance, administrative and financial aspects of the Association’s purchase, including the referendum, planned use, and renovation of Tetra (now known as the Lake House property), that have led to cost overruns and revenue shortfalls.”

The board received 11 proposals and narrowed it down to four finalists, RA documents show.

Mediaworld’s proposed bid is $1, with a contingency amount not to exceed $2,500.

Mediaworld is a :company that leverages experienced corporate executives to provide financial, operational and strategic consulting and advisory services to clients around the globe,” it explains in its proposal.

It is headed by Sridhar Ganesan, who serves as president of the Reston Citizens Association and has been active in other Reston causes, including the support of a RA indoor tennis facility.

“Our proposal will demonstrate that our team for this proposed independent review brings a wealth of knowledge, technical skills and experience that will enable us to perform this review to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, including the Reston community, and make appropriate recommendations going forward,” Ganesan said in his proposal to RA.

“Furthermore, you will find that the Mediaworld team brings a very unique perspective in that each of the members of the team is a resident and member of RA, and are active volunteers who are very familiar with RA and the Reston community.”

Mediaworld’s team will be comprised of RA members, including:

  • John Higgins, who formerly served as RA’s Treasurer. He left that post in April 2015, just before the Lake House was purchased for $2.6 million.
  • Reston resident Jill Gallagher, an associate at Booz Allen and former Budget Analyst for New York City.
  • Dr. Richard Stillson, retired Senior Economist & Division Chief, International Monetary Fund 5.
  • Moira Callaghan, a Restonian who has been an active voice in issues such as the Baron Cameron Dog Park. Callaghan also served on the Fairfax County Public Schools budget task force in 2015.

Once it gets approval from the full board, Mediaworld says it has an “ambitious timeline” of providing a report in late October. It estimates 80 hours of interviews, approximately 60 hours of document review, and 120 hours of analysis and report preparation.

Read Mediaworld’s full proposal in the Board Agenda for the Sept. 22 meeting.

  • JoeInReston

    Did they purchase this service from the Dollar Store?

    I’d prefer they find a vendor that will charge the market rate for such a process. Rarely are five and six figure services offered for so cheap unless the giver wants to plant a seed of obligation for a future favor.

    • Sally Forth

      You’d prefer to pay a king’s ransom for a report vs. having a diverse team of knowledgeable Restonians do the work essentially for free???

      I do agree that Mediaworld probably does seek a future obligation: to get RA on a sustainable path of transparency and efficiency. Sounds like a sound plan to me and I hope their contract is ratified by the full RA board this coming Thursday! We shall see…

    • BOHICA

      Maybe he would like indoor tennis approval. Did the RA members who are on the “teams” vote for the approval to purchase the Lake House? Where was $430K found?

    • Scott H

      You do realize that it is a group of concerned, qualified, RA members that are donating their time? It is literally, the books being audited by members who had their money wasted just like you.

      Now, we certainly should look at Mediaworld and scrutinize any additional for-profit work they might seek to obtain from RA, but on the surface, this looks good. If concerned citizens are willing to donate their time to figure out if there was any malfeasance or incompetence that warrants action, it’s better than paying an additional $100K+ for a consultant that we will ask to bite the very hand that is feeding it.

    • cRAzy

      If you want market rate, YOU can pay for it. Not me.

      • JoeInReston

        The best way to get an independent review is to pay independent people for the service.

        Nothing is free. We just don’t know what the favor that will have to be repaid. Reciprocation is one of the strongest principle of influence. Sales people know this. Corruptors know this. Tony Soprano knows this. We wouldn’t want our politicians receiving gifts. Same principles apply here.

  • Stop the race (war)

    I don’t believe in racism. I know it’s high on the agenda of your babylonian masters.

  • Ming the Merciless

    The money has since been replaced, says RA CEO Cate Fulkerson.

    Except you cannot replace a loss. That money is GONE. That $433,000 in “savings” she found could have been devoted to something productive instead of being used to “replace” money she irresponsibly wasted.

    • Mike M

      SMH ruefully. People who speak so blithely about that amount of deliberately sunk funds have no business making decisions about money. Fulkerson is plainly in over her head.

    • Scott H

      Absolutely absurd on the part of Ms Wilkerson. It’s not as if the $433K was found under a rock.
      $433K was wasted at Lake House due to negligence or ignorance
      $433K of member dues was diverted from other areas to replenish the “overage”.
      People weren’t hired, that were apparently needed. Projects were put off. No Ms Wilkerson. The money was not “replaced”. You wasted an additional $433K of member money on top of the $2M boondoggle purchase that started it all based on manipulated appraisals.

  • cRAzy

    The RA Board will NEVER pick this contractor. That would be too smart! They’ll find some old professional buddies willing to give them the answer they (that is: “There’s nothing to see here.”) for several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    That’s the RA way!

  • Overrunhell

    These folks called Mediaworld don’t have an agenda do they? Nah, that would never be the case.

    • cRAzy

      No more than the RA Board has one to put the Lake House horrors behind them with a hand-selected contractor preparing “independent” study costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      So which would you prefer?

      • Overrunhell

        I guess I would prefer an independent review. Not a review by people who have preconceived opinions and ideas. Their “bluff” is the telltale.

        • cRAzy

          If you really preferred an independent review, you wouldn’t have the Board selecting the contractor, setting the terms of reference, constraining the contractor’s access to people and documents, etc.
          There’s nothing “independent’ about this whole process!
          It’s a set up job and the best group to do it will be the one that’s the least expensive.
          The County attorney would be investigating if this were independent.

    • Greg

      Indoor tennis is their agenda, Makes the tetra boondoggle seem the bargain of the century.

  • GrandmaJean

    I don’t get it. Why would this group do this for nothing? What do they want out of this? Isn’t that Moira Callahan the person who has been lobbying so hard to get rid of the dog park? Is that going to be the price for the “free” work on this group? Something doesn’t smell right about this offer.

    • cRAzy

      And I thought I was paranoid! Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

      Apparently, given what others have said, giving this contract to Mediworld will mean we will end up with indoor tennis courts that also serve as a dog park.

      Which will be worse to clean up after–the dogs or the tennis players???? Neither of those “smell right” to me.

      • Overrunhell

        I like it. An indoor dog park.

  • Jack in Reston

    How is John Higgins “independent” for crap sakes he was. Pet of the board that voted for the referendum!

    • Overrunhell

      Very good point.

    • cRAzy

      From what I know, he did NOT vote for the referendum.

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