Malloy/Pryor; It is time to come clean on “Special Deal” Steven Adamowski

Why did the Malloy Administration rush through hiring Steven Adamowski?

Why did Adamowski start in his new state position even before the State Board of Education voted to extend his appointment as Special Master for the Windham and New London school systems?

It turns out the answer, at least in part, can be found in the no-bid contract Adamowski was given in July 2011.

More than two years ago, with the support of Windham state legislators, State Senator Donald Williams and State Representative Susan Johnson, the Connecticut General Assembly authorized the creation of a Special Masters position with the adoption of Section 138 of Public Act 11-16.

A month later, without any open, competitive bidding or review process, Malloy’s Acting Commissioner of Education gave the Special Master’s job to Steven Adamowski by directing the State Education Resource Center (SERC) to hire him, a move that later drew a rebuke from the Connecticut State Auditors.

The contracted, signed July 25, 2011 provided that Adamowski would begin on August 15, 2011 and that, “The Agreement term shall be from August 15, 2011 to August 14, 2013.”  The amount of Adamowski’s compensation was set at $450,000 for the two year period.

Fast-forward two years later…

By stuffing Steven Adamowski into a state position effective August 30, 2013, the Malloy Administration was ensuring that Steven Adamowski wouldn’t miss a pay-period despite the fact that his no-bid SERC contract ran out effective August 15, 2013.

Although Adamowski has been making $4,327 every two weeks for the past two years, Commissioner Stefan Pryor cut corners to put Adamowski on the state payroll effective August 30, 2013 even though the State Board of Education hadn’t even voted to extend Adamowski’s term as “Special Master.”

Was the State Board of Education taken for a ride or worse, did they know that a special deal with Adamowski was already a done deal and chose not to say anything?

On September 4, 2013, the State Board of Education, under the leadership of Board Chairman Allan Taylor, voted to extend Adamowski’s contract as Special Master.  At the time, neither Pryor nor Taylor publically informed the State Board of Education or the public that Adamowski had already been hired by the state.

In fact, Pryor clearly implied, and his public relations staff confirmed to the media, that the vote would allow Pryor to hire (future tense) Adamowski as a state employee.

However, a set of state emails acquired this week reveal that Pryor’s staff was already working feverishly to get Adamowski on the state payroll long before the State Board of Education voted to allow Adamowski to continue his role as Special Master.

In an email dated Wednesday, August 28, 2013 (5:47 p.m.), for example, Stefan Pryor’s Chief of Staff, Adam Goldfarb, wrote to Malloy’s Office of Policy and Management saying, “the very time-sensitive durational position we discussed is heading to your approval queue.  Could you please do us a favor and look out for it?  Need to get it all the way done by Friday!  Thank you, Adam.”

The entire episode raises numerous questions, but the most significant question of all is what did the State Board of Education know and when did it know it?

If would be disturbing indeed if the State Board of Education knew about this charade and remained silent.

  • brutus2011

    Two words.

    Perverse incentives.

  • R.L.

    Why aren’t any of these racketeers in prison or at least facing charges? I’ll ask again…..Where is the FBI?

  • buygoldandprosper

    Too bad Connecticut does not have an Attorney General.
    The fellow from Florida who occupies the office of the previous fellow, who served in Vietnam, seems to be just an empty suit that follows Big Dan’s commands like a good lapdog.
    It’s a shame.
    Connecticut needs an Attorney General.

  • Mary Gallucci

    Can this really be possible? I guess in Connecticut–Still Revolutionary, Still Revolting–we have sham bidding procedures (and this is post-John Rowland!); sham state hiring processes; sham certification requirements; sham Educational Leadership programs; and even sham municipal elections and votes. You see, the state, with then-commissioner George Coleman (who is now a lucrative private educational contractor) at the helm, needed to circumvent the competitive bidding process to ensure that Steven Adamowski–jumping ship before his shell game in Hartford came to light–would have some kind of reward for his service to the Hedge Fund Overlords intent on privatizing–everything! So Adamowski got to be Special Master thanks to ignorant legislators and complicit commissioners; he arrived in Windham and implemented a quasi-voucher choice system for the hand-picked select few (somewhat mirroring his own debt to hand-picking) and also looked for the speediest way to circumvent democratic elections. He did that by removing educational items from the education budget–this is technically prohibited by law, but who’s looking? not the attorney general–and then having them voted on in ever smaller and ever more restricted “town meeting” votes. The last such vote (there have been about 4 in 2 years–a lot of town tax payer funds being voted on by the select few) was for an enormous change to municipal finance operations and included a huge-ticket item for MUNIS software (with untold hidden costs and fees)–for which all of *39* tax payers showed up to vote. These are the same taxpayers who begrudge a sound building to 6-year-olds. But what the hay? CIRCUMVENTING THE LAW IS THE NEW THING!
    Malloy does it, Pryor majored in it, and Adamowski benefits from it and passes on its secret handshakes to trusted lackeys in the provinces. Adamowski has “earned” his big cut of the public pie in a cynical sort of way.

  • Mary Gallucci

    You know, I’d say this is Kafkesque and surreal if it weren’t in fact–business as usual in this state under the current leadership (and past leadership, too–who am I kidding?). In Kafka, Gregor Samsa never figured out what he did to be so horribly–transformed and punished… but in today’s Nutmeg State, it’s all to evident how the engines of corruption are functioning. They can barely be bothered to pretend to follow the rules, as in giving Adamowski a state job before the state board of education votes on it; or in Windham, changing financial operations for the Town and Educational budgets, including a pricey new software system, before the 39 electors showed up to vote between 4:55 and 5:00 pm three weeks before the autumnal equinox and 2 weeks before the full moon… in an undisclosed location–just give Dick Cheney a call.
    Who says we broke the rules? Mussolini made the trains run on time: Windham will now pay its bills on time.

  • jrp1900

    Jonathan is right to speak of a “charade.” The State Board of Education is charged with oversight, and yet they have shown no real interest in the actual performance of Steven Adamowski as a so-called “Special Master.” Mr. Adamowski came before the board and spoke glowingly of his achievements in WIndham and New London. And the board swallowed it up with nary a probing question. Now, it’s well known that State Boards are often stuffed with patrons, partisans, donors and sops of the ruling party. Appointees will nod their heads and their brows will furrow as they pretend to be concerned about the outcomes of this or that policy. It’s all a game because they generally have no intention of messing with the prerogatives of the powerful. Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are the people who stand behind Steven Adamowski. Short of being charged with a felony offense, there was no way in hell that Adamowski was not going to be re-appointed. The State Board doesn’t have the stomach (or the guts or even the heart) to challenge the school reform crowd who have set up tent in the Dept of Education under Pryor. It’s typical American politics. You scratch my back and I will pretend not to notice that you are playing all of us for fools…

    Stefan Pryor is obviously an impulsive and greedy man. Surely Pryor has been around long enough to know how the game is played? There was no real need to make Adamowski a state employee in such a dubious fashion. The Board was always going to give Pryor what he wanted for his “boy.” But Pryor couldn’t wait and he just went ahead and made Adamowski a “statie,” with not even a pretense of a job search or even a job advertisement. Pryor is greedy: when he gets his teeth into a juicy piece of school “reform,” he always wants more. His rush to secure Adamowski might prove more harmful than he had bargained for. We can only hope….