Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Grand Plan Encounters A Setback: Part 2

for more read the nycpublicschools parents' blog
Update: NYC Parents dishes the goods on Bloomberg's $4.5 million dollar slush fund, which he used to reward city council members.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Ongoing corruption, graft and waste at the DOE
See today’s NY Times about the federal indictments of four DOE employees as a result of the bus scandal investigation – accused of soliciting bribes for amounting to at least $1 million, in exchange for giving preferential treatment on safety inspections to companies that provide transportation to thousands of special ed students.
These indictments result from a terrific investigative series of reports last summer by the Daily News– not anything uncovered by DOE itself or by Richard Condon, the school special investigator. See our blog for links to these stories. In fact, the News reporters complained of stonewalling by the DOE in the process of researching the safety problems and abusive behavior on the part of these companies.
In addition, the NY Post reveals a list of community groups that received money through the Mayor’s “own secret taxpayer-funded cash stash” in the reporter’s words, amounting last year to $4.5 million, which the Mayor used “to reward favored lawmakers” like Councilman Simcha Felder (who got $1.9 million for his favorite community groups), Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz ($900,000) and others.
Also on the list is Councilman Erik Dilan – who coincidentally or not, along with Felder is one of only four Council members who have refused to sign the resolution opposing budget cuts to schools. The Mayor’s office supplied $60,000 to a community group that happens to be run by Dilan’s wife.
Unlike those groups allocated discretionary funds directly from the Council,“Bloomberg's slush funds were channeled through various city agencies to 45 groups and weren't listed on the document released each year by the council …”
See also today’s oped in Daily News by Andrew Stengel of the Brennan Center– suggesting that the recent naming of a Queens campus of public schools for Senator Padavan might be considered a form of graft:
The state's Public Officers Law is clear on this: Elected officials cannot receive extra compensation or any gift of more than nominal value. Placing someone's name in a prominent place, whether it's an actual building or a tract of land, has monetary value. ….Naming a school after Padavan appears, at the very least, to violate the spirit of the law, which says that an elected official cannot "solicit, accept or receive any gift having a value of seventy-five dollars or more whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form ... in the performance of his official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his part.
Worse still, according to the chancellor's regulations, "schools may not be named after living persons." The chancellor and others worked around this rule by arguing - get this - that it doesn't apply to a campus. The naming is especially egregious in this case because Republican Sen. Padavan's district is a major battleground in the war over control of the state Senate, which is one seat from a tie and two from flipping to the Democrats.
But perhaps all this pales compared to the unfortunately legal, but incredibly wasteful spending practices of the DOE, which while proposing huge budget cuts to schools also intends to spend nearly $8 million next year on its so-called Accountability office – with only 18 staff members, averaging $432,757 per person! See this entry by the invaluable blogger, Eduwonkette:

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