Even More Problems with No Bid Contracts!

23 Comments

Earlier this year, Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, used a series of no bid contracts to retain outside consultants to help him develop and implement Governor Malloy’s “education reform bill.”

More recently we learned that Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s $229,000 interim Superintendent of Schools, signed multiple no-bid contracts to hire more than a dozen consultants, many of them who work for Vallas’ private consulting business, The Vallas Group.

The response from most public officials has been silence.

But Ken Dixon, the Connecticut Post reporter who first broke the story on Commissioner Pryor’s use of no-bid contracts, last spring, has now learned that when one of Pryor’s consultants tried to bill the State Education Resource Center for an additional $200,000 (on top of the $195,000 they were paid earlier) and the Connecticut State Auditors have ruled that the company, Leeds Global Partners, could not be paid, because their no-bid contract had expired.

Commissioner Pryor was able to by-pass Connecticut’s competitive bidding laws by instructing the State Education Resource Center (SERC) to contract with Leeds Global Partners (and other consultants), and then reimbursing SERC for the money they paid plus a “fee” for overseeing the contracts.

Although the contract between SERC and Leeds Global Partners expired on March 31, 2012, the company continued to work for Pryor and the State Department of Education and submitted an additional invoice for $200,000, which purportedly covered their consulting activities during April, May and June 2012.

According to Robert Ward, one of Connecticut’s State Auditors, the invoice could not be paid since there was no “active” contract with Leeds Global Partners.  Ward told the Connecticut Post t that “Leeds is no longer doing work for the state and may be pursuing a Claims Commission proceeding to get paid.” (The process by which a company or individual can “sue” the state for money.)

Apparently there is some confusion as to whether the State Department tried to extend the contract with Leeds and why Leeds continued to work after their contract had expired.

In classic fashion, the Connecticut Post’s Ken Dixon adds that Jonathan Gyurka, the lead partner at Leeds Global Partners, “did not return a request for comment.”

Commissioner of Education Pryor and the Department of Education spent about half a million dollars in no-bid contracts before the issue first became public in April.  After that point, the Department of Education said that they would be using a competitive bid process for all future contracts.

Meanwhile, in Bridgeport, Paul Vallas has signed about $1 million in no-bid contracts with various consultants and nearly $12 million in no-bid contracts with various computer software companies.  To date, Vallas has not said whether he will or will not start following competitive bidding requirements.

The State Board of Education will be holding a regular meeting today, and both Commissioner Pryor and Superintendent Vallas are on the agenda and schedule to report on their various activities.

We will assume that neither of them will address their extensive efforts to get around state and local bidding laws and regulations, but if they do, you’ll hear about it here.

You can find the latest Connecticut Post story here:

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Nonprofit-status-clouds-payment-to-state-ed-3767061.php#ixzz232lvzxNd

And earlier Wait, What? coverage of Pryor’s no-bid activities here:

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/05/04/52412-education-update-1-no-comment/

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/05/03/malloy-administration-response-raises-more-questions-about-education-reform-contracts/

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/05/02/important-update-oh-its-good-to-be-king-or-at-least-commissioner-of-education/

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/04/28/add-another-reason-for-serc-to-do-malloypryors-bidding-on-directing-contracts/

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/04/22/i-wouldve-sworn-you-used-the-word-transparency-the-art-of-moving-public-funds-off-line/

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/04/20/news-flash-the-corporate-state-of-mind-malloy-administration-ducks-connecticuts-bidding-laws/

  • Linda174

     After that point, the Department of Education said that they would be using a competitive bid process for all future contracts.

    Unless they can find another way around it or until you find out they didn’t…..the rules and laws do not apply to these people because “it’s for the children and it is the civil rights movement of our time”.

  • realsaramerica

    PAGING GEORGE JEPSEN. Are you a responsible AG serving CT taxpayers, or are you a Malloy stooge? Signed, CT Resident who voted for you and will not do so again unless you do your job.

    • Linda174

      I vote for stooge!

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    Why has the CT Post not posted this past Sunday’s lead article about Bridgeport’s educational mess?  Maybe in cahoots with Malloy, Finch, and Vallas?  Why was Vallas’ first hire a PR Director?  Don’t want to give their adoring public a shot at blogging?

    • R.L.

      One of Adamowski’s first hires were also PR people (after he fired the old ones).  They were from the Courant.  Maybe that’s part of the reason the Courant treats his words like gospel.

      • guest

        Did they work for the Courant and for Adamowski at the same time?  Or did they leave the Courant for Adamowski?  Names? 

    • Dclemons

      The author of the article (Linda Lambeck) has reported on her twitter account that she is not being allowed to enter Harding to report on a summer program. Public school officials banning the media? I gues Vallas is going to make sure he doesn’t get anymore bad press that may hurt his business elsewhere

      • Guest

        If this is the case, why isn’t she reporting this in a pominent news story in the print edition?  I would like to know what they don’t want her to see. 

        My assessment of this reporter is that she writes reasonable stories and that she is not a muckraker.  However, if the district wants to include its own spin, Mr. Vallas should send someone with Linda Lambeck, and his representative will have the opportunity to explain what is/isn’t happening at the school. 

        • Guest

          Oops.  I meant to type “prominent” news story.

      • Dclemons

        What a sham! Vallas, Pryor, and Duncan are friends. Pryor puts together a waiver app for NCLB and Duncan says “Best one I ever saw!”. Pryor puts Vallas in and says “Great job!”. Vallas hires all his yes men/women and Everyone is an expert doing great things. Until I see increases in CAPT/CMT (real increases not statistical magic or results from Vallas’ own test) I say baloney it’s all About politics and money not kids and education.

  • guest

    Pryor really needs a freer hand with the purse strings.  Accountability is such a nasty word.  It’s just not an issue in those nebulous “public/private” corporate partnerships he has worked for in the past, like the Lower Manhattan Development Company, which made sure that disaster relief meant for those who had lost homes and jobs after 9/11 was diverted to the Banks and Businesses and Realtors who needed a big infusion of federal and state dollars.  Pryor and Pataki and Bloomberg got the government to waive the rules about where federal funds could go.
    I am sure he is trying to do the same here in Connecticut.

  • guest

    Well, there was no “occupy the State Board of Ed” today–just the beginnings of Stefan Pryor’s empire-building:
    http://www.courant.com/videogallery/71741459/News/Struggling-Schools-Closer-To-Getting-Support

    • Linda174

      Did you go? There were a few speakers during the public participation who expressed concerns and they submitted statements.

  • guest

    Off-topic, but this has to be the quote of the day:  “Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right,” Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven.

    • Jumangi

       I thought the same thing when I read that article. 

  • Jumangi

    http://ctmirror.org/story/17160/bridgeport-school-reformer-cites-progress

    I’m sure you were avoiding this story on purpose, but I figured I would link it here…it’s in need of some comments.

    • R.L.

      Our society is diseased.  How did it get so thoroughly corrupt?

    • Linda174

      Yes, let’s educate this reporter…this appears to be nothing more than a press release

  • guest

    Thanks for linking this piece of pablum, Jumangi.  It forms a counterpart to DeStefano’s quote:  “Just because something is illegal (as the CT Supreme Court ruled re: the state-appointed Board of Education in Bridgeport) doesn’t make it wrong.”  This sums up the opinion of SBE member Charles Jaskiewicz. 
    Unfortunately, there is so much wrong with the SBE breaking the law, the board continuing to exist, and Paul Vallas being hired as Superintendent.  The journalist is clearly incapable of doing even a basic google search on Paul Vallas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-White/100000066062155 Rich White

    The CTMirror has a fawning and largely glowing bucket of praise on Vallas today.

    Different people leave meetings with different opinions I guess……..

    • JMC

      Yes Rich. Notice however the superb detailed comment posted from Lance Hill under the CTMirror article, which absolutely demolishes the Reformers’ claims with facts and uttery nullifies their position. It is a model for rebuttal.

      • Linda174

        Actually read all the comments Rich…sure they can leave a meeting after vapid compliments are passed around….just wait until he has been gone for a year or two….check out the status of Philly, NOLA and Chicago after he left. This isn’t reform…this is a traveling circus that rakes in the dough and then moves on to the next freak show.

        My 7th graders could have taken the SDE press release and added a few quotes here and there, too.

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