Why didn't the DOE notice that an outside tech consultant hired to provide Internet access to public schools was stealing millions?
Well, they do lots and lots of contracts and who can keep an eye on all those?
Not kidding, that's what the Mayor of Money said yesterday on his radio propaganda hour on WOR:
On his weekly radio show on Friday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called the alleged theft “unconscionable.”
“Whenever there’s fraud, you can look back and say, ‘We should have looked there,’ ” he said. “But keep in mind the city has a budget of $65 billion a year, with lots and lots of contracts and lots of opportunities.”
Shorter Bloomberg: "Shit happens!"
Except that this crooked shit was happening for a long, long time:
Sometime in 2002, a manager at I.B.M., which was working on a large project to wire New York City schools for the Internet, noticed something unusual about payments the company was making for some workers.
The payments, investigators said this week, were going through a company called Lanham Enterprises, which was owned by Willard Lanham, the same person who was directing the wiring project for the city.
The manager asked a colleague if this was proper, according to a report by the office of the special investigator for city schools. The colleague said others at I.B.M. were also concerned, with one saying he “did not trust Lanham.” But Mr. Lanham, known as Ross, assured I.B.M. that he had spoken with a supervisor at the Education Department, who “was O.K. with it,” and the matter was taken no further. The supervisor would later tell investigators he did not recall such a conversation.
It was the first of several warning signs about Mr. Lanham, whom investigators have accused of stealing $3.6 million from the city through marked-up billings using a complex scheme of contractors and subcontractors, including I.B.M. and Verizon. But because of Mr. Lanham’s unchecked power over the project, which the city was paying him $200,000 a year to oversee, virtually all of the suspicions came to naught.
The companies assumed that if Mr. Lanham said it was fine, the city had approved it.
The case, which comes on the heels of an $80 million fraud prosecution involving consultants on another city project, the CityTime automated payroll system, illustrates again the vast amounts of money the city is spending on technology, and the trust it was putting in independent consultants. The Education Department said that once Mr. Lanham’s activities came to light, it added controls to prevent a recurrence.
During the six-year period when the authorities say he stole the money, Mr. Lanham was apparently left to operate on his own. “It is difficult to understand how the D.O.E. could allow so much power to reside in a consultant, even an honest one, which Mr. Lanham was not,” the city’s investigative report said.
Just like in the CityTime crookery, just like during the Bloomberg Blizzard Disaster of 2010, just like when the NYC test scores were shown to be inflated, Bloomberg skates accountability by shrugging like he's Donald Rumsfeld blaming the Iraq war mess on fate.
"Oh, well - what can you do?"
What can you do?
I'll tell you what we can do.
You can take away the mayor's ability to spend these hundreds of millions of dollars without any oversight whatsoever.
As John Liu completes his audits of other DOE contracts, we will see just what other messes Bloomberg has allowed since 2002.
More importantly, however, we now have more than enough reason why Bloomberg CANNOT be allowed to spend $550 million on tech upgrades next year when he is laying off 6,166 teachers in order to save $300 million.
I CANNOT repeat this statement enough.
The outside contractors with the no-bid contracts are STEALING THE CITY BLIND.
It is all in the CityTime and the Project Corruption reports.
Time to put an end to the open wallet Bloomberg has.
If he wants to spend $550 million on tech upgrades at the DOE, let him SPEND HIS OWN MONEY.
Not one thin dime of taxpayer money should go for this.
Not one thin dime.
Not after CityTime, not after Project Corruption at the DOE.
Not with all the other suspicious contracts Comptroller Liu is looking at.