[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