Monday, October 5, 2009

Pope Debacle Continues

Check out the latest report on the investigation into Pat Pope's office at Atlanta Unfiltered today. Many of you may recall that this investigation formally began in December of 2008 as the school system police and IT department stormed Pope's office, taking various files and computers. Dr. Lewis said at the time that he would know more "next week" as he turned the findings over to the DA. Now, the DA is saying perhaps in May of 2010 - about 18 months later. The DA describes the situation as ‘complex and enormous’. Uh oh.

72 comments:

Cerebration said...

Brother. Add to this, the costs of investigating the bullying (or non-bullying) at Dunaire as also reported at Atlanta Unfiltered along with the millions upon millions for the Heery Mitchell lawsuit and it's amazing that there's a dime leftover for any books.

My cousin teaches in Fulton County and they actually have a Promethean board in their kindergarten class! Imagine!

Too much of our money is going to lawyers. Waaaaaaay too much.

Anonymous said...

....two more years....my daughter graduates in 2011. Just have to hang on and hope that, after that, my property values don't go down too much as this school system continues to sink....
It's too big, too bloated, and is not effective. I keep trying to decide if it was this bad when my kids started school in 1994 or if I've just become more jaded over the years. (Because Dr. Hallford was just as bad and worse...he blatantly ignored the south end of the district)

Dekalbparent said...

My smart-@ss is in overdrive.

I'm picturing the scene in the DA office when the inquiry from Atlanta Unfiltered came in:

"Oh, S##t! We were supposed to be investigating that! Where did you put that stuff they sent over??"

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Didn't know that she was married to an architect who had a history of doing work for DCSS. I presume that he is no longer bidding on DCSS projectes as it would be almost impossible for Pat Pope to recuse herself from any involvement.

Anonymous said...

Too much of our money is going to lawyers

Anyone notice that with the new contract for legal services, a 'set aside' was given to the incumbent firm? How can you have an open bidding process if it is rigged to automatically give a portion of the business to one firm?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Talk about transparency. Check what Boston has done in response to an investigation! Look at the link to the letter from the corporate attorney referring to the local law regarding respnse to open records requests. They are following their own law.

http://www.cityofboston.gov/news/kineavy_messages.asp

So we have Danny Porter in Gwinnett challenging the establishment and this--the mafia (rackets) in DeKalb (like New Orleans) will never do this.

Anonymous said...

More like DeKalb Schools for criminal rackets--Fulton County Jail is being investigated for selling beds to criminals from other counties (states?).

http://www.ajc.com/news/north-fulton/federal-judge-gives-fulton-158062.html

This is what you are up against people--very deep, very powerful. Just like the South River redevelopment strategy. Lewis couldn't "correct" these things if he wanted to--he'd face a full court press against him in the AJC led by his own law firm. Get it?

By the way--the lack of coverage in the AJC over Lewis and the deep extent of all of this is COMPLETELY explained by his complicity with power broker's demands. His invitation to the Commerce Club was simply the way "they" choose to explain the "facts of life" to him. In New York, they just break knee caps.

Maybe ATlanta Unfiltered can shed some light with some unattached, free-will journalism.

Anonymous said...

The Pat Pope thing is fascinating.

Imagine your boss calls the Dstrict Attorney to investigate you, even seizing your office computer, and then goes along his/her daily business like nothing's changed????

Well, that's what has happened here. And all because Pat wouldn't go along with the unethical DCSS vehicle purchase for Crawford, who wanted a $26,0000vehicle for $4500, even though it was less than 18 months old. The BOE closed their eyes to this breach of ethics.

And gues what, Crawford gave the car to his son!!??

Dekalbparent said...

Sorry, I posted on the wrong thread.

A mention in the AJC -

Maureen Downey asked about the construction probe in Get Schooled, and asked if anyone knew anything.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2009/10/08/why-is-dekalb-construction-probe-taking-so-long/

Unlike most of her posts, this one has gotten only two comments. Wish there were more, since it could actually get somewhere. If there were some actual investigatable (not a word, I know) info, perhaps the AJC (or someone) could pick it up.

Cerebration said...

I think most of us stopped visiting her blog - it was getting really trivial, IMO. Thanks for the heads up on this -- I hope you will all post your thoughts at the AJC school blog --

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2009/10/08/why-is-dekalb-construction-probe-taking-so-long/

Anonymous said...

Check out this link to see how many Dekalb projects Vincent Pope's firm handled. These all may have taken place before Patricia and Vincent were married, I'm not sure. This also smells.

http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/companies/29837/

Cerebration said...

There's nothing new here. We all know that he worked on Columbia HS and McNair Middle. Didn't know about Miller Grove concessions - but that sounds like a small project. Vincent Pope is a talented architect - and I'm guessing that he probably would have gotten a lot more DCSS work if Pat was not in charge... I think the "investigation" is perhaps what we're smelling.

I may eat my hat someday (I truly doubt it) but I actually think Pat Pope has done a great job and is a bonus for the system. I think Lewis piled a whole lot of responsibility on her - she should only be in charge of construction - not maintenance too - but she continues to deliver.

Cerebration said...

Oh, and the Fernbank project was completed well before Pat Pope was ever hired by DCSS.

Cerebration said...

Don't you think that it's more plausible that this is just a smokescreen to cast attention away from all of the other issues with this administration?

There is a laundry list of craziness and a continuing downward spiral. First, we have Gene Walker, who while already serving on the DeKalb Development Authority (having the power to issue bonds for development), took $20,000 from a developer, the Sembler Co, to run for an open seat on the school board. Never mind that a terrific, smart, capable, knowledgeable parent, Ernest Brown, was already running for that seat. No – Walker upended Brown and won the seat and promptly set about trying to get a $52 million tax abatement approved — for Sembler! (An action that resulted in other board members filing suit against Walker and crew.) And of course, we have the inequitable spending of the SPLOST construction money – which continues to leave older buildings suffering – especially the heavily Latino Cross Keys HS and their gerrymandered attendance zone. Additionally spending over $50 million on a glitzy brand new HS called Arabia (a SPLOST 2 approved budget project - ala BP - Before Pope) on the premise of relieving overcrowding in the area, but then deciding instead to make the gorgeous facility a magnet program of sorts, leaving area schools still over-crowded. Of course, there’s the military academy that never materialized and the horrible case of a suicide allegedly due to bullying, which Lewis spent nearly $400,000 to hire a retired judge to “investigate” (which to my knowledge is not part of a judge’s skill set). And now – if you will check out the broadcasts of the BOE meetings, you will see the most recent one where the board plummets into a heated discussion about race – and how they are willing to pay more in order to maintain their current African-American legal counsel.

But I digress. We're talking about Pat Pope. Well, apparently there is SO much to investigate, that it will take the DA over 18 months to complete. (This is Lewis’ way of redirecting legal expenses from the school system to the county, IMO.) But ironically, this sudden interest in Pope’s files came on the heels of Lewis taking heat for buying a car from Pope’s surplus stock at a huge reduction ($5,000 for a car that was less than 2 years old and valued at over $15,000.)

Not to mention, What ever happened to a speedy trial? (Wouldn't that extend to a "speedy investigation"?) It's just plain wrong to hold an umbrella of suspicion over someone for so long -- it's beginning to appear strictly politically motivated. Consider the opposing theory -- how about if Pope was refusing to grant favors to friends of certain people? Wouldn't it be simply revenge to call for this investigation?

Construction documents and legal considerations are very difficult and complex. There is no way that your ordinary investigative DA could handle and understand this type of investigation - that's my opinion of why this is taking so long. They need to hire Kathy Zickert or some real law firm that practices construction law all of the time. For example, consider the fact that they have yet to untangle the previous construction department's involvement with Heery Mitchell. (I believe we've spent in the neighborhood of $12 million on lawyers for that one so far!)

Moral of the story - do not work in construction management unless you are prepared to spend half of your time with lawyers.

Scroll down this website for the AJC article on the Heery Mitchell firm - which is mysteriously missing from the AJC archives.
http://dallascrooks.com/heery/heerywatch.html

Anonymous said...

1) This may not be a smoke screen;

2) White collar investigations always take a very long time;

3) Speedy trial time does not begin to run until someone is charged and no one has been charged here.

Cerebration said...

Time will tell. It's actually pretty pointless to even debate the issue since obviously none of us really knows anything.

Anonymous said...

Last February, three Dunwoody boys were charged with a felony as the result of a very poorly thought out prank. (They opened fire hydrants and iced a large portion of a road -- in the dark. Accidents occurred.)

Nothing has happened on those charges either. The DeKalb DA isn't very good or very strong -- so this plays into the problem as well.

Anonymous said...

Why would the DeKalb DA be responsible for actions that occurred in the City of Dunwoody?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody doesn't have its own DA. With the exception of traffic court, Dunwoody is part of the DeKalb justice system.

that was just an example. The consensus is that the DeKalb DA moves slowly just about on everything.

Anonymous said...

Our county police officers do not like Gwen Keyes. Her investigations either take too long, or when she does move quick, it's usually offering time served or probation to a violent criminal. J. Thom Morgan may have been been extremely arrogant, even for a lawyer, with an incredibly self-inflated opinion of himself, but the DA's office did function much more efficiently under his auspice.

Gwen Keyes is over her head, so the Pat Pope investigation is going to hang over the school system for the next two years. Wasn't she aslo supposed to look into the Jaheem suicide?

Cerebration said...

No they don't. Check out their blog for their perspective --

http://dekalbofficersspeak.blogspot.com/2009/09/district-attorney-gwen-fleming-has.html

Cerebration said...

From Keye's website -

The DeKalb District Attorney's Office prosecutes approximately 6,000 felony cases each year. Gwen is responsible for supervising and training a staff of approximately 50 attorneys and 100 support personnel while administering an $11M annual budget.

Cerebration said...

So, let's do the math - 6,000 felony cases divided by 50 attorneys = 120 cases per year per attorney. Dividing the $11 mil budget among the 6,000 cases, we have $1833. per case. Whoopee! They're never going to be able to dig into a complex case like Pope's. It would eat up the entire $11 million in no time.

Besides, it appears as though the criminals the DA is looking into are bonding out left and right. Click here for a list of murderers out on bond in DeKalb -
http://www.scribd.com/doc/20927748/Murders-on-the-Loose

But then, the DA's office said, they don't actually even keep track of that -

No Wonder Crime is Rampant in DeKalb County
Recently, Bill Torpey and Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote an article revealing that 1 in 4 defendants in Fulton County are out on bond. The article focused primarily on the amount of people accused of Murder who are out on bond.

They interviewed several metro area District Attorneys. “Gwinnett DA Danny Porter said it is rare for murder defendants in his county to get bond and was surprised so many in Fulton got it. Cobb DA Pat Head, in office a decade, could not recall more than 10 murder defendants in Cobb getting bond. The DeKalb DA’s office said it does not keep statistics on bonds”.

Anonymous said...

Just assuming that there is enough evidence to warrant at least an investigation into Pat Pope's office, all of you are discouraging me with the impression that Keye's office is unable to handle the investigation. If there's something there, who's gonna be able to find it?

If, say there's anything fishy in DCSS's massive expenditures of Title I funds (and some of the schools have been on the losing end of that one), then I guess the Feds could kick butt with a forensic audit and take names later.

Not so the Patricia Pope matter. The facts, exculpatory or not, will probably never be known, if what I read here about the DA's office is true.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Gwen keyes and some of her top staffers are Leadership DeKalb alumni, and Crawford and some of his top staff are Leadership DeKalb alumni. I don't think Pat Pope is part of that clique.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Some movement in the investigation?

"Today, the District Attorney's office is executing search warrants that have been signed by an independent judge as part of an ongoing investigation into the administrative side of the DeKalb County School System."

Theus could not immediately say whether the warrants were part of an investigation into the office of chief operating officer Patricia Pope and allegations of irregularities in construction contracts, but the school system's Design and Construction Department, which Pope heads, is located in the Sam A. Moss Service Center, the building being searched.

The school system last winter asked the DA's office to review findings from an internal investigation involving Pope. In December, school system police officers and informainformation systems employees examined records from Pope's office.


http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-schools-office-being-161490.html

Anonymous said...

Breaking news . . . http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-schools-office-being-161490.html

Will this investigation ever actually go someplace?

Cerebration said...

Also from WSB -

WSB News
DeKalb Schools Probe
By Chris Camp @ October 13, 2009 10:48 AM
(WSB Radio) -- The DeKalb County District Attorney's office was serving search warrants at a school system office building in Tucker on Tuesday, but specific information as to the nature of the investigation has not been released.
"Today, the District Attorney's office is executing search warrants that have been signed by an independent judge as part of an ongoing investigation into the administrative side of the DeKalb County School System," according to a statement issued by DA Gwen Keyes Fleming's office.


Didn't they already search the place last December?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Yes, cere, there was a search last year where all of the computers were taken. I wonder if this investigation is more about Stanley Prichett's tenure than Pat Pope?

No Duh said...

"ongoing investigation into the administrative side of the DeKalb County School System"

I wish they would investigate all of the administrative side of DCSS.

Speaking of Stanley "Silk Suit" Prichett...what's the status of the Heery lawsuit? Heery sued for $1.5 million. DCSS countersued for $17 million. How much has been spent on lawyers? At least $800,000 -- for Josie Alexander.

If they are investigating Pat Pope (God forbid!), and she does get the boot (God forbid!), I wonder which displaced principal will get the job.

Cerebration said...

That's a thought, DM. I would imagine the time when Pritchett oversaw the construction is the time when much shenanigans occurred. I'm certain I've shared this website with you all - about the Dallas, TX school system's experience with Heery.

http://dallascrooks.com/heery/heerywatch.html

This is a quote from the Dallas website,

For new folks -- I chronicled my experience with Heery as a contractor which I compiled into a report to the FBI for Heery's involvement with kickbacks, fraud, and extortion. To harass me for making that report, Heery sued me in what is called a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). All that information wound up public record and I put it here on this web site.

That SLAPP went on for two years, and cost Heery almost $500,000. In the end, Heery had to drop their suit on me, as I had almost 50 witnesses that Heery was deeply involved in kickbacks, negligent and fraudulent tracking of project money, fraudulent insurance claims, and extortion . . . and the FBI agents who were tracking the case were scheduled to be sitting in the court room audience. Heery had to drop the SLAPP suit and the court case ended hours before the jury was to be seated.

Things ended for Heery with the Dallas ISD after they sued me and failed. Soon after that, Heery was fired from performing in future Dallas ISD contracts and management activities.

Since that time, I have heard from school districts across the country that other folks have had the same experience with Heery International.

All about the same story, just different names and locations. Hinky change orders on projects, cost over-runs, pretense that money is not being tracked carefully, when in truth, it is being "disappeared," and of course, administrators who appear with Heery, endorse them, and disappear along the same time.

Since then, Heery lied about this regarding their Dallas ISD experience and misrepresented on their own web site that they had successfully performed in the Dallas ISD.

Cerebration said...

Dallas also posted this article from the AJC - which you will be hard-pressed to find in the AJC archives online.

Audit raps schools in DeKalb
Building program oversight criticized
By KRISTINA TORRES
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/02/06

An independent audit released Thursday criticized both the DeKalb County school system and the management firm it contracted with for problems in the system's school construction program, including delays and probable overpayments for work.

The audit found no evidence of any fraud or theft, said Patrick A. McGeehin of the Maryland-based Rubino & McGeehin Consulting Group. He said the problems could be corrected.

The county school board commissioned the audit about four months ago in a move meant to reassure the public about the construction program. Board members plan to ask voters next March to renew — for the third time in a row — a special 1 percent sales tax that is paying for the construction program.

On Thursday, system officials said work began months ago to iron out obvious problems in the program, including bringing in new leadership with the hiring last fall of Patricia Pope, a construction industry veteran, to oversee it.

Other recommendations in the audit — including a better prioritized project list, more realistic cost estimates, revisions in contract language, and up-to-date, concise status reports on projects — are already being addressed, Pope said. The system also cut ties with Heery/Mitchell, the management firm, in April.

DeKalb officials also announced two audit-related hires:

• The powerhouse law firm King & Spalding will see what costs the school system might be able to recover from "any and everybody involved with our program," schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis said.

• The public relations firm Jackson Spalding will help get information out about the audit and what the system will do to address its findings, Lewis said. Auditors had criticized DeKalb's communications efforts related to its construction program.

"Some of the information was somewhat of a disappointment," county school board Chairwoman Cassandra Anderson-Littlejohn said. "But much of what is in the forensic audit was what we know."

The audit did not give any figures on possible overpayments.

Cerebration said...

Among the major findings:

• Heery/Mitchell did not live up to its contractual obligations. Auditors said they could find no comprehensive, regularly updated program schedule or any documented evidence that the firm analyzed the need for or price of change orders. Required monthly reports "were not consistently prepared."

• DeKalb officials were late in voicing questions and concerns, and they aggravated the problems in the program by making a career educator — someone with no construction experience — their point person. That educator recently retired.

• The entire construction program should have been re-evaluated once it became clear original cost estimates were too low. "This would, in all probability, have avoided much of the continuing controversy," auditors said. They noted that board members approved more than $610 million worth of projects, even as revenue for the program from the sales tax was projected to be less than $500 million.

• Neither the management firm nor DeKalb officials systematically reviewed whether they were owed money back for problems and delays that may have been caused by contractors or architects. Examples cited by auditors include delays and rising renovation costs at Southwest DeKalb High School, which have riled parents and students.

"I know that they know they messed up," said Tracy McMeen, Southwest's PTA president. Work at the school is ongoing. "I still feel we're not doing everything we can."

Heery/Mitchell, a joint venture of Heery International and E.R. Mitchell and Co., had not been provided a copy of the audit Thursday, but Gregory Peirce, a senior vice president for Heery, said the firm feels "pretty strongly" that it did what DeKalb asked it to do and that it took its directions from the school board.

The firm had worked in DeKalb County since the start of the construction program in 1997. Since then, the system has addressed nearly $1 billion in building needs during the past decade. Officials estimate they currently have about $800 million worth to go.

© 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Anonymous said...

How is Pat Pope supposed to work in an environment where her supervisor has asked the DA to investigate her? Talk about DISFUNCTION!! This is insanity, and the BOE needs to make a statement. These are two highest paid employees in the school system. Someone please make sense of this!

Anonymous said...

This investigation is unlike anything I've heard of in any other school system. And how is Ron Ramsey and DCSS Internal Affairs involved? Did Ramsey investigate first and them tell Crawford Lewis that the DA should be brought in? Unlikely, because Ramsey and his staff don't really do anything.

Still, this is so weird. How can Pat Pope be expected to brief the BOE with project updates while Crawford is sitting a few feet away from her. Isn't Crawford asking the DA to investigate her the same as saying he has no confidence in her? Is this all because Pope called out Crawford on the hugely discounted purchase of his DCSS owned car for his son? Stranger than fiction stuff here.

Cerebration said...

Here's a link to photos of the "investigation" at the AJC today -

http://projects.ajc.com/gallery/view/metro/dekalb/dekalb-school-search/

What's frustrating is that this kind of behavior continues - it's been over 10 months and all we've had is an occasional storming of Pope's office - with a lot of drama - and then nothing. You usually only see this kind of horrible treatment by the government in communist countries.

Cerebration said...

Ditto for the $400,000 "investigation" into bullying by Judge Moore - for which we, the taxpayers got nothing. It's all covert and sheltered by Lewis.

Cerebration said...

This is the latest from WSB: Search warrants are part of an on-going investigation. They apparently also searched the offices of Vincent Pope (Pat's husband, the architect).

Anonymous said...

"Orzy Theus, spokesman for District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming, could not immediately say whether the warrants were part of an investigation into the office of Patricia Pope and allegations of irregularities in construction contracts."

Hey Crawford Lewis and the Board of Education, the public wants to know WTF is going on here!!! There better be a statement ASAP!!!

Cerebration said...

Therein lies the frustration for me. There's always this huge drama set up to cast doubt and suspicion, but in the end, we are never apprised of the facts or findings. It all simply blows away... la la la...

Anonymous said...

I think you'll be eating your hat. Some of the Cross Keys supporters have been on the receiving end of Pope's smooth misstatements, arrogance, rudeness, and alleged corruption. We knew in our guts something wasn't kosher here. Some insiders have said that much of the investigation centers on the Cross Keys construction contracts.

Just another DCSS bigshot taking advantage of a vulnerable school with little community support, until you guys and especially, Kim Golce, made Cross Keys into a such a worthy cause.

Not only was her office searched, but her home was searched. Two contractors in Lithonia who had done biz with Pope were searched this morning.

Many folks are not sorry to see this investigation.

I'll cook that hat for you to eat. It'll make it more palatable :)

Dunwoody Mom said...

So, you were privy to the search warrant?

Cerebration said...

Cooked hat! Yum! I'll happily eat it if they ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING! I just have so little faith left in the "system"...

But I have always said that it's darn fishy that the contractor/architect for Cross Keys "quit" the project last spring. That just doesn't happen in the construction world - these are big boys. A little community push-back is no deal-breaker for them - ever - much less in our recent economy.

Dunwoody Mom said...

So, why didn't the Cross Keys contractor who was replaced speak up?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Also, remember, we've heard on more than one occasion that the people that were in Pat Pope's office before she arrived, leftovers from Stan Pritchett's regime, have little use for her, so I wonder how much of this is "sour grapes" on their part?

Cerebration said...

Isn't that quitter contractor a mystery? I have theories - and they have to do with asbestos - but they are all just in my own mind... no evidence.

When it comes to Cross Keys, they are the poster child for use/abuse/neglect and any other adjective you wish to apply. It sickens me to watch this board debate their "black/white" race issues for all the world to see while Latinos suffer at their very hands.

Don McChesney and Gene Walker both represent Cross Keys and in all their grandstanding and bloviating at the last board meeting about "race" - not once did they - nor have they ever - stood up for our Latinos and Hispanics. Not once. Hypocrites!

Cerebration said...

Yes, I've heard about the Pritchett regime leftovers. Word is that they don't like Pope because she actually expects them to work! Imagine that...

Cerebration said...

Here's what I have on the shut-down of Cross Keys last spring -

It seems that the delay in construction for Cross Keys is being blamed on the architect quitting the project - due to what Pat Pope (head of DCSS construction) said was the community's fault -- (in actuality, this "team" was hardly ever consulted, and actually only produced a 2-page "wish list"...)

"Pope indicated that frustration with the design team of teachers, administrators, students and parents played a part in the first architect quitting the project.

"The community would never come to a consensus on design," she said."

http://brookhaven.reporternewspapers.net/Articles-c-2009-08-06-166220.113118_Locals_rally_round_Cross_Keys_repairs.html

The spending reports from the school system claim that they hired Richard & Wittschiebe Hand Architects in late 2008 or so, with promises that drawings would be submitted to the DOE by Feb 2009. Additionally, RFPs for material testing, NPDES monitoring and "special instructions" were reviewed and approved by DCSS. Construction was expected to commence in May, 2009 with completion scheduled for 4th Q 2010.

Oddly, nothing happened, and as I said, the architect "quit"... which I find suspect. I've never heard of an architect quitting a project - especially due to a 'committee' of regular folks. I'd really like to know what really happened. I'm wondering if there's something else - as in, during this time, Lewis had Pope "investigated" - and the DA stormed her office and took her computers among other items. We were told in early Dec (08) that Lewis would have more info in a couple of weeks. Until recently, - it's been all mum - as if nothing ever occurred.

Also, here is a link to the June, 09 project status
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/administration/operations/projects/2002-2007/files/CIP/CIP%20Report%20June%202009.pdf

Cerebration said...

And here's an old post on the subject -

Quotes from Pope's reports --

Pat Pope's CIP report dated Oct 08 states, "Cross Keys High School: Renovation and Relocation of the Dekalb High School Technology North Program: CM/GC At Risk proposals were received on September 16, 2008 from five firms. On September 19, 2008, four firms were interviewed. At the October meeting, the Board of Education approved the CM/GC At Risk Contract award to MEJA Construction, the lowest responsive responsible bidder in a lump sum IGMP amount of $11,000,000. The Design Team has commenced
with the preparation of construction documents with the anticipation of a Land Disturbance Permit
being issued in January 2009."

Pat Pope's CIP report dated Feb 09 states, "Cross Keys High School: Renovation and Relocation of the DeKalb High School Technology North Program: Preliminary Architectural design is complete and was submitted by Richard Wittschiebe Hand to the Georgia Department of Education on January 28, 2009 for review and comments. Request for Proposal for Soil Borings were received in late February 2009. Request for Proposal for the CM/GC at Risk is due for advertisement in March 2009 and scheduled for Board of Education approval in April 2009."

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that the design team of "teachers, administrators, students and parents" frustrated powerful Pat Pope and the architect enough for the architect to walk away from the project?

Do you think, given the hostile negligence shown Cross Keys by DCSS admin, that they even listened to such a cantankerous bunch of folks as "teachers, administrators, students and parents?" What the hell makes up a school? Asbestos and crumbling concrete?

What an awfully obstructionist group of folks to listen to!

Come on, folks. We were all taken for a ride!

Such a perfect example of Pat Pope's attitude toward such a wonderful school!

Anonymous said...

Architects do not just quit. And the advisory group at Cross Keys didn't even meet that much, and let's be honest, they have 2% of the political clout than A Lakeside or SW DeKalb has. I can see Lakeside parents driving an architect crazy (sorry Lakesiders, but y'all can be incredibly self-important and whiny). Maybe Kim G. can find out who was on the advisory group and get some of their feedback.

Pat Pope tried to blame the advisory group, but no one checked to see if what she alledged was actually true, and it wasn't. Something smells here. We need to hear from Richard Wittschiebe Hand the real reason they left the project.

How fitting would it be that Cross Keys, the most embarassing public school facility in the metro area, is the what brings down Pat Pope?

Dunwoody Mom said...

anonymous 9:15, yes, architects do indeed quit. We had one at our church quit because there was disagreement about agreed upon prices. You certainly seem to want to get rid of Pat Pope. Why?

Dekalbparent said...

There were several delays in the DHHS construction (originally due to be finished 10/09, now due sometime toward end of 2010 school year).

Some of the delays were due to DCSS failing to file for land disturbance permits. Another lengthy delay (from DC Fire Marshal) was due to their closing off too many fire exits from the building without providing alternates. This one shut construction down for 5 - 6 weeks. This to me is not good construction management. It has also been relayed to me that members of the school staff are not allowed to speak to Ms. Pope when she is there.

Additionally, two-year-old art desks (expensive ones) were thrown away (they said "oops" afterwards), perfectly good library tables and chairs (expressly requested by the media specialists) were removed, and many of the art supplies have been stolen. This, to me, is not good money management.

I don't know how much of this stuff has anything to do with Ms. Pope directly, but it DOES have to do with the construction managers she oversees.

Jim Walls said...

Cere has been after me to get some records on the Cross Keys situation. I've been too covered up to do so. But I did reach back into the vault just now and found the original contract with Meja Construction, who was to have been the construction manager. It shows that Meja signed the contract Oct. 10, 2008, Crawford Lewis signed it Oct. 31, Pat Pope initialed it on a date uncertain and the board chair never signed it. A fax transmission line along the top shows someone faxed it on Nov. 4 (my mom's 90th birthday!).

I also asked the school system in January for information on "unprofessional conduct," which Pat Pope had alluded to in a community meeting about the delays at Cross Keys. The lawyers said they didn't have any such document.

here are links to the letter from the lawyers and to the final pages of the contract, which includes the signature page

http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/reply-to-Cross-Keys-records-request.pdf

http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Meja.pt.3.pdf

Dunwoody Mom said...

I don't know how much of this stuff has anything to do with Ms. Pope directly, but it DOES have to do with the construction managers she oversees.

And I wonder how many of the people that reported to Pat Pope are upset that a middle-school principal was named Executive Director of Plant Services over someone already in the department?

Something smells in all of this. Just sayin....

Anonymous said...

Trust me, a major firm like Richard Wittschiebe Hand does not quit a project with a large metro school system without due reason, and it's not an advisory board.

Anonymous said...

Pope is her own human resources department. She makes all of the decisions regarding personnel. There is no merit in the system. That's a joke. Study all of the reorganization and manager replacements and dismissals over the last 5 years...it's fodder for a class action suit. Sadly, past and existing staff are so imtimidated by her they just roll their eyes when a another principal is installed as a AD or Director of Operations....Sam Moss is a dumping ground.

Anonymous said...

Please believe that there is something to discover in this case with the Popes'. There have been too many dismissals of staff and attorney's due to Mrs. Pope. These are facts that anyone can see for themselves. Mrs Pope also wanted to create her own HR and payroll department to increase her hiring/firing power without any HR input. Has anyone ever watched a board meeting in which no documentation was given on the bids awarded, Ms Pope only states that "the company had the lowest bid." The board, nor Crawford Lewis does any fact checking on these bids....So there is accountability problems throughout DCSS. The DCSS has set themselves up for more lawsuits because think of all the personnel that were wrongfully terminated by Mrs Pope or that were in the past layoffs. Should Mrs. Pope have been exercising any sort of authority while being under investigation? And lastly the Moody Construction has a close family member working directly for Mrs Pope at the Service Center. So believe the hype this time....there has been enough evidence to close this case during the first raid. It's a shame it took Atlanta Unfiltered to get the ball rolling again. The scary part is how many top ranking officials will fall after Mr. Pope begins to talk....we all know that whoever speaks first gets the best deal. http://www.cbsatlanta.com/news/21287945/detail.html

Dunwoody Mom said...

Has anyone ever watched a board meeting in which no documentation was given on the bids awarded, Ms Pope only states that "the company had the lowest bid."

Many of us on this blog watch the board meetings, Ms Pope states, "the company had the lowest responsible, responsive bid".

Someone is pushing really hard for the downfall of Patricia Pope - again, I ask why? If you are going to spew accusations, please back them up with facts, otherwise you are just spreading gossip.

Anonymous said...

there is no hate being spread here..just the facts...not as I see it but as it is. try being on the inside wathcing all this illegal BS taking place...someone has had enough and they have let the cat out of the bag...so please do not get angry with the person posting the blog...maybe if people really investigate instead of taking everything for face value (when your school or facility is getting the capital improvements wishes granted) they can see the truth has been staring everyone in the face the entire time.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody mom if you will only take part of the conversation ensure you have the entire portion which states "The board, nor Crawford Lewis does any fact checking on these bids....So there is accountability problems throughout DCSS." clean the clutter by electing new, fresh, positive board members and a smarter Superintendent.

Dunwoody Mom said...

The board, nor Crawford Lewis does any fact checking on these bids..

Really, I've heard several board members ask questions on many of these bids.

Anonymous said...

This whole mess can be entirely blamed on the BOE. They should have a facilities/maintenance/operations committee that meets monthly to go over just issues in those areas. They should be asking the needed questions on the bid process, the vendors and contractors, the constant re-organizations, and why the heck are freaking principals being hired at Sam Moss when they have ZERO experience and education in facilities management.

I don't expect the superintendent to be an expert on facilities/maintenance/operations, but he too should be following up more in this area. But then again, he is part of the problem, because he has clearly "dumped" principals over to Sam Moss.

It's kind of like Atlanta airport. Any police officer who has issues or performance problems or just isn't that good but firing them is not possible, is assignedto airport duty. Seems like for DCSS, when Central Office needs to find a place for a former principal, Sam Moss is all too often the landing ground. It is totally unacceptable for DCSS to have so many managers and staff at Sam Moss and to have as many schools as we do with poor grounds maintenance and basic facilities problems like leaky roofs and broken gutters.

Cerebration said...

I have to concur with the last Anon. Of course, I'm no insider, but I just don't think this thing is going the way it looks like it's going. If they had solid evidence 10 months ago, why have they not filed charges? Why "re-raid"? And really - did they have to point 6 guns at Vince Pope as he got out of the shower? Come on! This is communist behavior.

My gut tells me that this is a vendetta against Pope. There is clear evidence that Heery/Mitchell was conducting themselves unethically in Dallas -
http://dallascrooks.com/heery/heerywatch.html
which leads me to believe that if something shady has occurred, but it's not who they think.

Cerebration said...

For example, here's a quote from the Dallas website -

Some Background:

Things have been rather quiet around here regarding Heery International, Inc., since they were ran out of the Dallas Independent School District.

For new folks -- I chronicled my experience with Heery as a contractor which I compiled into a report to the FBI for Heery's involvement with kickbacks, fraud, and extortion. To harass me for making that report, Heery sued me in what is called a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). All that information wound up public record and I put it here on this web site.

That SLAPP went on for two years, and cost Heery almost $500,000. In the end, Heery had to drop their suit on me, as I had almost 50 witnesses that Heery was deeply involved in kickbacks, negligent and fraudulent tracking of project money, fraudulent insurance claims, and extortion . . . and the FBI agents who were tracking the case were scheduled to be sitting in the court room audience. Heery had to drop the SLAPP suit and the court case ended hours before the jury was to be seated.

Things ended for Heery with the Dallas ISD after they sued me and failed. Soon after that, Heery was fired from performing in future Dallas ISD contracts and management activities.

Since that time, I have heard from school districts across the country that other folks have had the same experience with Heery International.

All about the same story, just different names and locations. Hinky change orders on projects, cost over-runs, pretense that money is not being tracked carefully, when in truth, it is being "disappeared," and of course, administrators who appear with Heery, endorse them, and disappear along the same time.


Go here for the report to the FBI-
http://www.dallascrooks.com/heery/fbireport.html

Anonymous said...

They had better provide something to the public wasting all of the tax payers dollars..this is quite insane behavior...I am a little skeptical about the guns being drawn....not the mode of operation for such small beans like this situation...maybe if drugs, weapons or money laundering was involved...but not this kind of stuff....but who knows...JMO

Anonymous said...

Where is the press release from the county? Has Pope been put on leave? There is no way she can carry out her job under these accusations. Is this going to delay projects. What is going on with this darn school system??? Doesn't everyone see things are out of control here?

Cerebration said...

Yeah, it'll be interesting to see what becomes of the Cross Keys, Lakeside, Dunwoody and Chamblee projects now! They've all already been delayed for over two years - what's a few more?

No Duh said...

ooh, Cere! I was trying to not jinx LHS by mentioning pending projects on this Debacle thread! :)

And where did the six guns and shower info come from? Was that in the news?

If principals are managers at Sam Moss, I would think they were forced on Pat Pope. And if she's such a bitch to work for, why are projects getting done and supposedly underbudget?

As to BOE members not seeing bid paperwork. You will notice that each BOE member has a rather large notebook in front of them. There are many more supporting documents in those notebooks than the public sees. I would hope the bid backgrounds are in those notebooks. You know what I'm talking about. It's the notebook that Copelin-Wood and Roberts are always looking through during the public speaker session. I guess we don't pay them enough to review the meeting materials BEFORE the meeting. They could at least fake like they're listening.

Anonymous said...

Good question Anon...where's the press release from DCSS...also the binders seen at the board meetings do not contain any official bids....if you can refer back to any of the meetings one of the board members always manage to ask Ms Pope to provide them with copies of the bids and she promises to deliver the following business day. Now the real question is has the board ever received any of the bids to review them and if so what did they do with them if some bids were suspect? hmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

If the board wants to see the bids, they can do so at Pat Pope's office. At a meeting not long ago, Don M. requested to see that and was invited to see them.

This is an area of a 'slippery slope'. If board members constantly request to see the details behind any recommendation, that could be perceived as micromanaging. Board members do get a package 3-4 days prior to the meeting with information on the agenda items (Zepora R. reminded board members of this at the 10/5 meeting when they digressed for 20 minutes on the policy change request).

There is an annual audit conducted to ensure business transactions are handled properly and are following the letter of the law. Are the current project estimates on the high side resulting in the final projects coming under budget? One could make a point about that. It goes back to the old saying of "Always under promise but over deliver". We have experienced what happens when we over promise and under deliver.

Builders Site Protection said...

Unfortuately this thing happens all the time in school districts, county offices, city offices and states offices throughout the U.S. Money goes to lawyers, kids get the short end of the stick and the rich and powerful never seem to go to jail. People are too lazy or disinterested to even watch what elected officials are doing. http://www.buildsitepro.com