By Paul Gable
A letter from SCDOT that purportedly removed Coast RTA from being designated as a “High Risk Agency” is apparently a forgery, according to a follow-up letter from SCDOT.
Dated October 11, 2011, the letter, allegedly from SCDOT Deputy Secretary Hart Baker to Coast RTA General Manager Myers Rollins, states, “I have rescinded the letter (designating Coast RTA as High Risk Agency) and removed the Waccamaw Regional Transportation Authority’s designation as a “High Risk Agency”…”
In replying to a request for validation of the October 11, 2011 letter, SCDOT Director of Intermodal and Freight Programs Doug Frate sent a letter to Coast RTA board chairmen Bernie Silverman dated May 2, 2014. The letter said in part, “Please know that I have been informed that this letter was neither signed by or for Mr. Hart Baker, nor did it originate from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT).”
It can’t get any clearer than that – the letter was forged.
Frate’s letter denying the October 11, 2011 letter went on to say, “Identification as a High Risk Agency, as initially communicated by letter dated August 23, 2011, has not been rescinded and the associated special conditions remain in place.”
This is just another twist associated with the Select Committee on Coast RTA’s investigation into the failed shelter and intermodal center projects.
Rollins contended that the high risk agency designation was removed from Coast RTA during the Special Committee process. The letter just kind of turned up for the April 30, 2014 meeting of the Coast RTA board, but Rollins was fired at the beginning of that meeting. Nevertheless, the letter got circulated and required answers.
What is interesting is there was an October 11, 2011 from Baker to Rollins included in the submission of documents SCDOT made to the Select Committee. The body of the letter, over two pages in length, was entirely different covering a multitude of subjects.
However, the SCDOT letterhead information was exactly the same on both the real letter and the forged letter, leading to the question was the real letter used as a template for the letterhead of the forged letter?
Even more importantly, why did someone feel a need to create a forged letter stating totally wrong information when it was obvious the forgery would be almost definitely be discovered?
There may be more revelations now that the leadership at Coast RTA has changed, but Silverman has said the Coast RTA board will be exercising significantly more oversight of the agency than it has in the past and he is determined to re-establish a solid relationship between Coast RTA and SCDOT.
Link to copies of the forged letter and the Frate response: scdot letter 050214 (1)