Add Another Reason for SERC to Do Malloy/Pryor’s Bidding on Directing Contracts

20 Comments

[As ABBA would say]: Money! Money! Money!

A few readers have inquired as to why the State Education Resource Center (SERC) would be so quick to agree to funnel contracts to selected vendors on behalf of the Malloy Administration.

As noted on their website, “SERC is a nonprofit agency primarily funded by the Connecticut State Department of Education.”  Their description goes on to say that “SERC provides professional development and information dissemination in the latest research and best practices to educators, service providers, and families throughout the state, as well as job-embedded technical assistance and training within schools, programs, and districts.”

Thus, even though SERC is “sort of separate” from the Department of Education, it would appear that when your primary funder calls – you jump – even if that request might or might not be completely appropriate or legal.

However, the ongoing investigation has now revealed a second, and perhaps more significant answer.

Evidence has surfaced that not only does the State Department of Education pay SERC for the time they spend working for the Commissioner of Education and his department, but they also tack on an “indirect cost fee” of 6 percent.

This means that;

  • When Pryor instructed SERC to hire Leeds Global Partners – SERC added $2,214 for their staff time and $11,833 as an “indirect cost fee” – money that they can now use for their overhead or other activities.
  • When Pryor instructed SERC to hire Education First Inc. of Seattle, Washington, SERC added $3,600 plus costs to cover their staff time.
  • And when Pryor wanted to “hire” a Yale Law school student that he knew when he worked in New Jersey, SERC added nearly $8,000 for some on-going SERC staff “assistance” and another $7,071 as their “indirect cost fee.”
  • SERC hasn’t responded to the FOI requests on Adamowski, so we still don’t know if he is a W-2 employee or a 1099 consultant (which might impact his pension issue), but if he was a consultant, SERC might have picked up an extra $11,700 from the Adamowski contract.

Meanwhile, Ken Dixon, of the Connecticut Post wrote a story last night that the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG) filed “a whistleblower complaint” accusing Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor for violating state law when they knowingly by-passed Connecticut’s competitive bidding.

In one of the greatest responses I’ve ever seen in political rhetoric, Andrew McDonald, who serves as the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, told Dixon that Swan’s complaint was “reckless” and “devoid of any evidence.”

McDonald went on to say that Swan should apologize to the Governor adding “This is one of the more reckless efforts I’ve seen by Tom…His complaint is devoid of any evidence to support his sensational conclusions regarding the governor. If not today, then sometime soon, he’d better be prepared to put some substance behind these thin assertions.”

Readers of Wait, What? may remember that McDonald, along with the Governor’s Chief Adviser, took a somewhat similar vitriolic approach when the Administration was criticized by Rich Rochlin, the attorney representing the state employees who were being scapegoated by Governor Malloy and his team, during the emergency food aid controversy last fall.  At the time, the McDonald/Occhiogrosso response was that Rochlin was mentally ill and accused him of being not more than an irresponsible ambulance chaser.

In this case, Tom Swan, CCAG’s Executive Director, told the CT Post that he “filed a complaint because if it is and it should be illegal, they clearly circumvented state law to hire a consultant, to hire another consultant to write state law to hire more consultants.”

In addition to the whistleblower complaint that goes to the state auditor, some of these issues are probably within the purview of the Office of State Ethics.  It is definitely possible that the Ethics Commission is also investigating activities surrounding Malloy’s “Education Reform” efforts but those activities are protected by a confidentiality provision that I will be writing about soon.

For Ken Dixon’s latest article go to: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Complaint-filed-over-reform-consultant-hiring-3516768.php

  • Khaddad

    I find it infuriating that we would use taxpayer money to hire people from outside Connecticut to rewrite Connecticut’s laws and then our governor and Ed commissioner think we should blindly go along with it.

  • guest

    Wow!  Thanks for this great coverage.  I am so glad I have donated to CCAG all these years!
    As for Adamowski, SERC, and the FOI–there is a time limit on their dallying–they are obliged, by law, to respond within 5 or 10 days.
    Poor Adamowski.  Everyone, especially him, was so convinced that Adamowski and future Special Masters were going to have the immunity they so droolingly desire–so that they can consult with impunity and other such like undemocratic activites

  • guest

    By the way, I think the Pink Floyd song about money would also apply.

    • jonpelto

      Pink floyd next time for sure.

      Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

      • sharewhut

        Equally fitting?
         http://www.pink-floyd-lyrics.com/html/pigs-animals-lyrics.html

        • sharewhut

           You hadn’t of oughtn’t of got me going on Pink… too many things going through my head now…
          Our worthy legislators.. and Dem State Committee…

          “Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
          Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
          You better watch out,
          There may be dogs about
          I’ve looked over Jordan, and I have seen
          Things are not what they seem.

          What do you get for pretending the danger’s not real.
          Meek and obedient you follow the leader
          Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
          What a surprise!
          A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
          Now things are really what they seem.
          No, this is no bad dream.”

          • guest

            I see you have a weakness for the “classics,” too!

          • TMS

            I don’t know, I think the OJays’ “For the Love of Money” is also a good contender.

          • sharewhut

             Yeah, but I kinda like the similarity to our Legislators being led obediently to slaughter by Danny…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Burns/712565941 Tommy Burns

    Thank God there are people in CT who will stand up to the $$$ and self-serving phony leaders —keep up the good work—-the other states folded under Republican pressure and corporate $$$$—to the detriment of their children and the fate of our country—–
    We have to keep on caring about our community and the people in it–and not allow the corporations to make money at the expense of our kids—and lets be clear—-non-profit leaders pay themselves handsomely—while we teachers on the ground floor chose this occupation because we care——
    Here in CT is where it stops—-CT was one of the original colonies-led by people of original thought——–not followers–and so we will lead again–sans those who would profit at our childrens expense——I won’t allow this to happen to my two girls–nor anyone elses children—-
    And to try to do this quickly and possibly illegally is irresponsible and a sign of immaturity in our government—–

  • Linda174

    We weren’t supposed to find out about it, hence the shady use of SERC. Thank you to Ken Dixon and Jon Pelto or we would still not know about their deceptive ways.

    I can’t figure out what Pryor does other than create new positions that never existed before for his buddies and hire consultants to hire other consultants.

    Can we have an accounting of all the money Pryor has spent on trying to get SB24 written and passed, including new positions created at the SDE?

    Who knew SB stood for Stefan’s Buddies?

    Or that SERC means Stefan’s Emergency Revenue Cadre.

    (not sure I like the second one, anybody have better ideas? CT Dad? Sharewhut?)

    • guest

      You suggestions are great, Linda174.  I do think we need to include Adamowski in there somehow.  Adamowski is doing the Pryor strategy on a smaller scale in Windham–”streamline” central office = make one honcho in charge of all; he/she is highly paid and thus dependent on the favors of the Commish and the Special Master; outsource to consultants for everything–professional development; school governance councils; school bus routes; magnet school lotteries, etc.; oh, and make sure to institute a new position in public relations, since, as Adamowski famously declared at a Board of Education meeting–”the Superintendent has better things to do than answer parents’ questions.”  Of course, he answers to no one–at the local level, anyway.

      • Linda174

        And I suspect they all (Malloy, Pryor, Adamowski, etc) stroke each others’ egos and then it morphs into group think. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them or has different ideas is just a defender of the status quo.

        Pryor was quoted in a recent Dixon article as saying this wasn’t privitazation, it is: “reorganization through mechanisms and policy proposals”.

        What exactly does that mean? Now he is inventing his own deceptive eduspeak which leaves much to interpretation.

        I don’t trust any of them and I wouldn’t want my child in their classroom….oops…they have never actually had to teach a group of children, have they?

        • Magister

          So does this mean that Adamowski’s frequent references to “talent management” and “attracting and retaining highly qualified staff” are actually codes for TFA? That’s disappointing.

          • Linda174

            That’s actually edubabble for get rid of those at the top of the pay scale who will refuse to teach to the test and spend all their time on test prep. Bring in the newbies who will be too naive and shell shocked to ask any questions and who will view Adamowski as a leader.

            TFA = teach for a while and build up your resume.

          • guest

            Yes!  Adamowski has never once explained how the teaching temps of TFA can even be judged as talent or highly qualified after so little time.

    • sharewhut

       replays…

      sharewhut  Steve’s Educational Retirement Committee..

      sharewhut  Suck Every Rupee from CT

  • MESSVIN

    Thank you John     FOLLOW THE MONEY

  • sharewhut

    Has Johnnie R. found a way to be ‘hired’ by SERC yet? Or is he just ‘coaching’ Danny boy on the intricacies of Gubernatorial ‘benefits’- you know, the Elder Statesman stuff?

  • Yyhg

    The Department of Education has been doing business like this for years. Thought SERC’s fees were more than 6% though. Must be the economy.