Last week the City of Cleveland officially canceled its $1.5 million contract with the New Jersey businessman hired to design a trash-gassing plant the city wants on Ridge Road. The problem with the work performed by Peter Tien and his Princeton Environmental Group? Mostly he sucked at math.
Despite Tien’s assurances that the plant would be a moneymaker, a check of his figures showed it would actually cost millions every year, which the city determined is not the preferable flow of cash for a $200 million investment.
Back in February, Tien submitted reports showing that the trash-processing units would deposit an average of $40.7 million a year into city coffers. A small problem arose when it was learned that Tien had inexplicably multiplied the plant’s actual energy earnings by 10.
The error was caught quickly — not by the city or Tien, but by folks at Ohio Citizen Action, a nonprofit watchdog that posted a detailed accounting of Tien’s promises on its website. Correcting for Tien’s faulty math, the group learned that the city’s $40.7 million profit would more closely resemble a $17 million annual loss, a feat City Hall can accomplish any number of other ways.
The city gave Tien and Princeton a chance to correct the math this month, but his revised number-crunching revealed the same phantom income.
Happily, not all profits will be lost: If the Ohio EPA approves the problematic permit Tien submitted for the plant, he’ll still get paid. Officials have invited the fired consultant to name his price in a final “progress report” that chronicles his foibles.
“The City is prepared to pay the amount contained in the approved final progress report upon receipt [of the EPA permit],” Tien’s pink slip notes.