Resident Files Complaint Against Chief Engineer
Midkiff filed a complaint March 6 with the city, not about the project but about the man who once managed it, David Nichols, who's now Columbia's chief engineer of public works.
He worked for the firm in charge of Park View Center before starting with the city last October.
"To my mind, this is nothing more than putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop," Midkiff complained.
Nichols said the development was one of 15 projects he managed for his former employer. He said he applied for the city's chief engineer job only when it became available.
"Being with the other firm, assumptions were made, but there's nothing," Nichols argued. "There's no conflict of interest."
Midkiff said Nichols is only human and that's part of the problem.
"There's a certain amount of subjectivity involved," Midiff said, "and certainly he would lean toward the developers and development since he was previously employed by them."
Nichols said his position is removed enough from daily operations to avoid any conflict.
"I have a supervisor who supervises the reviewer," he explained, "so I am two positions away from being involved in the operation."
Midkiff hopes the city removes Nichols, although the development will continue.
Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins will review Midkiff's complaint.