One of the most objectionable aspect of Chancellor Joel Klein's tenure has been the awarding of "no-bid contracts" to consultants that waste millions of dollars in precious education funds. Time and again the Chancellor's critics have brought up the lack of accountability by Tweed in spending priorities. In particular, the awarding of large contracts to high-priced consultants and the increase of the total Tweed headcount during a time when the schools are experiencing a 8.5% budget cut and the Regional Offices that directly work with the schools are experiencing massive reductions, including layoffs.
Now comes a Daily News article by Juan Gonzalez that exposes an apparent agreement between Tweed and a little-known Florida computer company that will give this company a 95 million dollar contract. Interestingly, this company does not even have an office! The address they claim they work out of is simply a mail box drop and the Brooklyn address they claim they use is a residential building with no offices in it! In his article Juan Gonzalez writes the following.
"This, of course, is nothing new under Klein and Mayor Bloomberg. Both state Controller Tom DiNapoli and city Controller William Thompson have issued scathing reports in recent months about DOE's mushrooming use of no-bid contracts and the runaway costs that often result.
DiNapoli's report, released in May, found that the DOE awarded 291 no-bid contracts between July 2005 and June 2008 for more than $340 million and in most cases "failed to properly document" the reason why".
The question is why won't the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) start a serious investigation of the practices of Tweed in general and Joel Klein in particular when it comes to allocating millions of dollars to companies that don't even have an office? SCI never seems to have a problem in starting an investigation of a school staff member that might have been accused of misappropriating a few dollars or was accused of potentially criminal conduct. However, when it comes to Tweed and Joel Klein SCI turns a blind eye and allows potential ethics violations and no-bid contract abuses to continue. Joel Klein and his Tweed cronies should be subject to the same requirements as school staff members. However, at present that does not seem to be the case.
In another Daily News article Joel Klein's popularity with the general public remains near an all-time low with an approval rating of 37% ( the lowest was 33% last year). If NYC parents of school children and school staff were the only ones polled, I suspect the numbers would be be much worse. Hopefully, Bloomberg's lead starts to deteriorate and he will terminate Joel Klein and his non-educator staff at Tweed. Only time will tell.