I-Team presses former Mayor Dean about flood money - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

I-Team presses former Mayor Dean about flood money

Karl Dean (WSMV file photo) Karl Dean (WSMV file photo)
Money intended for victims of the May 2010 flood was used for design work for Ascend Amphitheater, which is under construction in this image. (WSMV file photo) Money intended for victims of the May 2010 flood was used for design work for Ascend Amphitheater, which is under construction in this image. (WSMV file photo)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Former Mayor Karl Dean wasn't expecting the News4 I Team to show up at his campaign event Monday night.

"We'll talk some other time," Dean told News4’s Nancy Amons.

News4 has been trying to ask him about the $7.4 million his administration spent on design and engineering work for Ascend Amphitheater.

The money came from the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was meant to help victims of the 2010 flood.

A lot of flooded homeowners weren't too happy in May when we told them where the money went.

"Disgusted. Just disgusted," Belinda Gentry told the I-Team.

Dean was asked about the flood money at a gubernatorial debate in May.

"The money that was used, was used for flood mitigation. Not for building an amphitheater," Dean said at the debate.


PREVIOUS STORIES: Money for flood recovery used for design of public facility | Council members question moving flood money to amphitheater | Feds didn't know flood money was going to amphitheater | Former mayor denies flood money went toward amphitheater


"Building" is the key word. The money didn't go for bricks and mortar. It did go for architects and engineers for the amphitheater complex.

The News4 I-Team asked flood victim William Harris if it made a difference to him whether the relief money was spent on brick and mortar versus design and engineering for the amphitheater.

"I'm tired of people hiding behind language. I'm pretty sure HUD wanted the money to go to homeowners, not to design an entertainment facility," Harris said.

Invoices for the amphitheater project show federal flood relief money paid for planning work such as acoustic consulting, theater rigging, lighting design, artist wing stage left entry and spotlight tower design and engineering.

News4 offered to sit down with Dean's staff and go through the invoices together. They said they would interview with anyone except Amons.

We told them we’d told them we'd catch up with Dean on the campaign trail, and we did.

"Would you like to take these with you and review them? Because you've been saying that flood money did not go towards Ascend Amphitheater." Amons said to Dean.

"That's not what I said. I said the flood money went toward both an economic project and for flood mitigation. But we'll take a look at it," Dean said.

So why didn't the money go to the flooded homeowners?

Dean's administration told the federal government they had a hard time finding people who qualified.

They initially thought they could reimburse homeowners for the repairs they made, then found out they couldn't, so they spent the $7.4 million on riverfront development. HUD gave its permission but confirmed it did not know the money was specifically for an amphitheater.

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