Sunday, February 21, 2010

So, it looks like Pat Pope is (allegedly) a rat after all


You'll have to buy a copy of today's AJC to get the full, below the fold front page story, the headline of which reads, "Huge schools project altered, aiding spouse". It seems that "Pat Pope made changes to a multimillion-dollar construction project that prevented her architect husband from losing out on more than $1 million in earnings, The [AJC] has learned."

The project is one of six the DA is investigating. Of course, Pope's attorney still claims she's done nothing illegal. Her husband, Tony Pope said that she "didn't make the changes to give him work, but acknowledged that her actions helped him financially."

In fact, his actual quote is, "You're doggone right it benefited me."

The saddest part to me is that the contract under investigation is the contract for the Mountain Industrial project. It was awarded at $1 million over the budgeted amount, and then incurred $4 million in changes - due to the fact that the school system decided to move the administrative offices to the that facility. And all the while, Cross Keys, Lakeside, Chamblee, Dunwoody and others wait for their promised improvements to little or no avail.

There's more - lots more - so go get a paper today and a box of Kleenex, because there's no way that you can take this all in without shedding tears for our children.

127 comments:

Open + Transparent said...

This article provides even more reasons why Superintendent Crawford Lewis needs to be fired, and why every member of this Board of Education needs to be voted out of office:

1) This Board of Education allowed $5 million dollars in change orders to this project. We are facing a budget crisis now, and were facing budget issues when these decisions were made. Yet this Board of Education hears Crawford present $5 million on change orders for the sprawling Mountain Industrial mega-complex, and of course they jump for joy and say, sure C Lew, here's another $5 mil for non-classroom, non-academic spending.

remember they just had the gall, despite facing a possible $80 million deficit, to spend $300,000 in lights for BOE televised meetings.

2) C Lew was well aware of a plethora of issues regarding Pat Pope shadiness. Did he go to law enforcement? Nope, only after he was grilled for his DCSS vehicle/multiple gas fill-ups nonsense, did he tell law enforcement about Pat Pope possible illegal behavior. It says everything about the man he is, his ethics, and his survivor, out for me and no one else mentality (I deserve that extra $15k per per plus my $30k per expense account!!).

3) C Lew shows a complete lack of institutional control. Pope was allowed to manipulate contracts, including a subtle change that allowed her husband to pocket an extra cool one million dollars. Are there any checks and balances to stop such shadiness? Not in the C Lew administration!

4) I apologize in advance for those who are offended by what they perceive as personal attacks on this blog, but DCSS Attorney J. Stanley Hawkins is ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS and his competency should be questioned.

Here's a quote from J. Stanely, and this is what we taxpayers get from an attorney making a sweet nice six figure salary: "I told Pat that so long as there was no actual conflict of interest - and I did not see one here - the situation did not present any legal situation at all," Hawkinds wrote. "To the extent that any issue is presented, it is one of perception."

ARE YOU INSANE J. STANLEY?!! Pope manipulates a contract to make sure her husband pockets a cool million, and you J. Stanley, sees no conflict of interest. You need to be fired J. Stan.

5) Not done with you J. Stan. So J. Stan and C Lew, weasel out of making a tough decision by throwing it on the Board of Ed to decide. "It's unclear whether the board resolved the matter", states the AJC article.

In the Board's defense, I guarantee they didn't have enough information to make the right decision here, which would have been to void Pope's manipulations and start from scratch with grownups who a) don't try to steer a million taxpayer bucks to their husbands and b0 administrators like C Lew and J. Stan who both don't see a conflict of interest when it bites them in the blank, and then displace any responsibility by throwing it on the board.

I can't wait until this article is posted online, because even the most ardent C Lew and BOE supporters will finally see the light. Out school system does not have an administration that is competent. What's $5 million dollars for a fancy dandy new mega-complex?

P.S. If by chance you see J. Stanley Hawkins at a BOE meeting or function, ask him about conflicts of interest. Be interested to hear his response.

Anonymous said...

Folks, just remember that this is SPLOST money, not funds that can be used for operational purposes.

It isn't right that this money was spent on central offices, the Board should have stopped this.

Hawkins is no longer DCSS attorney.

Anonymous said...

The saving might have resulted in heating/cooling units that work and don't deafen teachers and students.

No excuse!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:42 It does not matter to me if the money was a gift, the school is not in a position to waste money. These are our dollars. If you bought something in DeKalb, you've contributed to the SPLOST funds. Those SPLOST funds could have paid for the many roofs that leak across the county and clean up from the mold that lingers in the ceilings and vent ducks. It could have been used to install AC/heating units properly so that mold is not growing in the vents and affecting the air that anyone inside the school breathes.

It is time that the county and all government entities stop this waste. I am responsible with the money that my family earns and cannot afford to give it away by the fistful to my friends and family.

Hopefully this will wake the people up in the county. If this doesn't, than our schools are just going to get worse and worse. I have begun to question, whose relative or friend is benefiting from the recent $300,000 light project and every other single project that has been bid on. This is just one faulty contract that we know about, but I would bet my DCSS salary (not anywhere near $100,000) that it's not the only one.

Anonymous said...

Article is here:
http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/huge-dekalb-schools-project-319245.html

Anonymous said...

Scenario as I observed it of the manipulation of the BOE into approving the $300K change order for "improved" lighting in the Board room:

1. Proposal is made.

2. One Board member expresses his disapproval of the change order.

3. Two or three Board members then defend televised board meetings, but, note well, say nothing about better lighting.

4. Lewis then threatens to do away with televised Board meetings by eliminating PDS24.

5. Board approves change order with one vote against.

It was all so orchestrated and planned in advance.

And I watched it on a perfectly lit telecast of the meeting, with the allegedly inadequate portable lighting set up.

Go figure. We been played. Heads need to roll.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the 26,000 SF area that they contracted out included Pope's private office suite which was supposed to have featured a fireplace in her office.

Anonymous said...

This article does not prove any wrong doing. In fact, it neglects to explicitly mention a key piece of information, why this was split into two projects. If you find the answer to that (Tim Eberly knows the reason), you will see there is nothing to this story. That is why Stan Hawkins said there was no conflict of interest. He has information that Tim chose not to provide in the story.

Also remember, the article mentions the scope increased due to the decision to consolidate offices to this facility. Take a step back and think, do you think the district would ultimately save money, both on facilities, utilities, and equipment, by consolidating personnel into one facility? Would you spend $5 million dollars today if it could save you $10 million dollars tomorrow and several million each year thereafter?

Remember that a panel recommends to the board the most 'responsive, responsible bid' based on the results of a scorecard. The decision to award is not solely Pat Pope's. This article even acknowledged that Nix-Fowler had the lowest bid. The Board ultimately approved this award. This was a transparent process, whether Tim Eberly shares that information or not.

Open + Transparent said...

Anon 12:33 PM, you are incredibly mistaken. Wow. Do you work for Crawford?

"Had Pat Pope moved forward with the project as it was, it would have gone to one of the other contractor-architect teams in the running.
Instead, she broke the project in two and the district gave a fraction of it to one of the original bidders, without advertising the changes. The much larger portion of the work was put out to bid a month later.
By that time, Tony Pope had teamed up with Nix-Fowler Constructors. That company won the contract, which now stands at $21.3 million, through a competitive bid process. Tony Pope’s portion so far is $1,075,718, according to financial documents obtained from Nix-Fowler."

Instead of going with one large contract, Pope broke into up, which added ONE MILLION DOLLARS to the project, and that million ended up in the hands of Vince Pope.

And if Pope's reason was to get it done in ahurry as she mentioned, then it would have gone to Hogan, instead of Nox-Fowler, since Hogan was already familiar with the project. Nox-Folwer, which had sub-contacted Vince Pope after he was originally with Merit, is shady with a capital "S".

Anonymous said...

"This article even acknowledged that Nix-Fowler had the lowest bid. The Board ultimately approved this award."

I wonder if the board would have approved it if it knew Vince Pope, Pat's husband, would make a million bucks on it upon BOE approval.

Also, as mentioned earlier, the most frustrating part from my point of view is that Superintendent Lewis was aware of the shenanigans, but only told the DA about it after he was being grilled for his vehicle stuff. He did not bring anything forward until his butt was in the fire. If he wasn't being questioned, would any of this ever come to light??? And Lewis hired Pope himself.

Anonymous said...

Open + Transparent, further in the article it states that the smaller project needed to be completed by the start of the 2008 - 2009 school year. Do you wonder why along with why the project was split into two? This is the premise of the story. Tim Eberly knows the answer to that and it was worth a LOT of money to DeKalb.

Also, if Nix-Fowler came in with a bid that was lower than Hogan, wouldn't you want to district to take that? Have you heard anything about Hogan complaining about the process? Think about it...

Cerebration said...

Excuse me, Anon 12:33, but as a taxpayer and parent, I voted for SPLOST to improve SCHOOLS. If I ever had an inkling that this money would go toward pleasing the superintendent and board and funneling special contracts to insiders before it went to crumbling school buildings filled with our children, I would not have voted for it. You can bet I won't vote for another.

That money could have been spent first on Lakeside's auditorium and classroom addition in order to get kids out of trailers or Cross Keys facilities, gymnasium or track so that kids don't break their ankles - etc - but no - they chose to spend it FIRST on themselves! This is why Lewis approved the contracts - he wanted fancier digs. His signature is on those contracts - which blatantly showed Vince Pope as a vendor. I'm betting it was yet another quid pro quo - "let my husband do this job and we'll make sure you get a super nice office." There is nothing wrong with the A/B buildings - in fact - now they are sitting empty!

Lewis obviously has no problem with Pope - he and the board continue to pay her $200,000 salary!

Sickening.

Open + Transparent said...

Perception is reality. Vince Pope made one million dollars more from the split. Of course Hogan isn't complaining as they still want to do business with DCSS. And it is fair to ask if the Nix-Fowler bid was a little lower than Hogan's as Vince Pope has access to inside info. If Vince makes sure the Nix-Fowler bid is $5 lower than Hogan, ole Vince gets a sweet cool million bucks. Sorry if I sound paranoid, but again, DCSS should never ever allow such rampant nepotism and conflicts of interest. I bid out contracts, and my supervisors would never ever allow me to hire any contractor who would sub-contract my spouse. Even if it may be legal, barely, it is flat out unethical and it is indefensible. And if it came to light, my supervisor would have her job on the line for a lack of institutional control. I am a firm believer of the smell test. this doesn't pass it, and most decisions made but Lewis, and Pope, don't wither.

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone, if and when you speak to your state representatives and state senators, I think it's clear we need legislation that requires all SPLOST money go to only school buildings. And we need better and clearer info. posted online and updated regularly regarding SPLOST funding. And that definitely includes changes orders, for a $9 million project can suddenly become a $21 million project i.e.the Southwest DeKalb High Robert Brown renovation.

If a school system wants to build a fancy complex for its administration or any other non-classroom building or facility, then that school system needs to pass a bond or secure financing in some other manner.

I have heard firsthand from BOE members that DCSS needs hundreds of millions to renovate schools and build new ones. Then spend my darn SPLOST money on school buildings, and not mega complexes for administrators.

It is unfathomable to me that the BOE has no problem dropping $5 mil in change orders for Mountain Industrial while schools like Cross Keys, Sequoyah, Chamblee and Lakeside are in miserable, emarassing condition.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, look at:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/progress/cip/files/cip.31a.cip.by.facility.pdf

this is in alphabetical order. Notice the 'New Facility for Open Campus, Jim Cherry, and Early College'. You won't get much argument from many that this was not as 'open + transparent' as it could have been but this was put out to the community to approve. These 'schools' along the the central office occupy the Mountain Industrial Facility and the money was advertised to voters prior to SPLOST approval.

Anonymous @ 12:46 pm asked if the Board knew if Pat Pope's husband was a sub. Of course they did. It was mentioned in the article that Stan Hawkins indicated there was no conflict of interest and that the ultimate decision is up to the Board. The only group that can approve expenditures like this is the Board. For some reason, most on this blog keep forgetting that. This is also why Cassandra Anderson-Littlejohn requested in the fall of 2008 that when relatives of an cabinet member work on a project that it be clearly indicated in the paperwork that comes before the Board.

Limiting SPLOST dollars to schools only shows a lack of foresight. Would taxpayers really ask employees to work in dilapidated buildings and have technology destroyed due to leaky roofs? Would taxpayers want to pay more for employee health related expenses because of poor air quality? Would taxpayers want to pay larger amounts for utilities due to old facilities? We don't want this for our schools and children and should not want this for the school system employees.

As Tim Eberly why the project was split in two. He knows the answer and the amount of money the school system could have LOST if they did not do this. That is the premise of his article but he did not share that with readers.

Open + Transparent said...

C'mon Anon 1:37 PM??!!

Ridiculous arguments. We currently allow students and teachers to work in classroom with ceiling leaks and mold and mildew in the ventilation systems. But no amount is too much to spend on the Central Office bureaucracy! The hypocricy is astounding.

The current BOE headquarters in not anywhere near dilapidated. And the Sam Moss Center wasn't either. The first priority should always be school buildings. I am all for consolidating all admin staff into one facility. But a) e have way too many admin and support staff, b) they aren't properly consolidating. The Bryany Center MIS staff should should be right-sized, adn tehn moved to the Mountain Industrial mega complex. The IT infrastructure at the Bryant location, along with its easy 285 access, make it a very desirable property for a business to purchase.

Again, SPOLST money should be for educational purposes. I'm not saying we dont need safe, secure, well maintained buildings for a lean and mean administration. But those should be paid for by a school system by bond or other financing. SPLOST is voted on by voters with the understanding that it will renovate older schools or build new ones, not be spent on fancy dancy admin facilities.

And there has to be more transparent info. to the public on SPLOST and facility funding, espcially for change orders. Contracts go with a low bid to secure a contract and then come back with change orders, greatly increasing their margin. It's unethical, but happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

For this reason the folks were laid off in June. A little birdy whispered that the BOE and CLewis was piffed with Pope at those changes and how it would effect the budget and made her do cuts in her area...thus cutting the printshop and service center personnel. Wonder will there be any lawsuits coming up with this situation. Although Georgia is a right to work state there are laws to protect employees and this is one of those situations that could land the DCSS back in court with some hefty lawsuits...stay tuned....

SongCue said...

"Limiting SPLOST dollars to schools only shows a lack of foresight. Would taxpayers really ask employees to work in dilapidated buildings and have technology destroyed due to leaky roofs? Would taxpayers want to pay more for employee health related expenses because of poor air quality? Would taxpayers want to pay larger amounts for utilities due to old facilities? We don't want this for our schools and children and should not want this for the school system employees."

Anon 1:37. I agree, but AGAIN, why didn't the schools get these changes FIRST?!
Have you been to Cross Keys High School? Lakeside? I urge you to visit these facilities where our students and teachers are working every day. When's the last time you were at work and the sewer system backed up? Or didn't have access to a large facility in your work place because the floor was warped?
Sorry---until the school houses get what they need for basic human health in the workplace, no money for DCSS administration facilities should be spent. Period.

Anonymous said...

Open + Transparent, I LOVE your passion because it is apparent you want what is best for our schools. Let me ask my question this way, if by consolidating employees into one facility pays for itself with the savings in plant maintenance and subsequent sale of the property, would you do it? You can't simply look at how much you are spending but also how much will you save. I think the savings from this move could be redirected to the schools, where it should be.

Also consider all of the current central office employees may not make the move as there more than likely be layoffs. Rumors are that $88 million may become slight overly $100 million before long. We are talking the amount that will need to be cut from the budget. You can't cut this solely in the central office.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:25 pm

I think the support side of DeKalb County Schools has lost all credibility due to late and shoddy construction, inadequate heating and air, scarce, non-working, outdated technology that takes months to fix or maybe never gets fixed, broken toilets, cracked sidewalks, moldy floors and ceilings, electrical work that takes forever....

Does a teacher want to chime in here? Or maybe a parent?

Taxpayers have gotten such a poor Return on Investment that they have figured out that merely moving the players in the Central Office around is not going to solve our problems or help our kids.

There will still be too many non-teaching personnel dragging on the budget and increasing the pupil teacher ratio in the classroom - no matter whether they are at the Sam Moss Center or The Bryant Center or Building A and B or at Mountain Industrial.

The bulk of our costs are in salaries and benefits (91% or $819,000,000 out of a $900,000,000 budget). That only leaves $81,000,000 for annual infrastructure costs for the entire school system and that includes gas for our buses. What kind of ROI do you realistically think we could save in plant maintenance and subsequent sale of the property? No nearly enough.

In business, you look at your biggest expenditure first. Other metro counties such as Fulton allocate 85% of their cost in personnel salaries. This is a 6% difference or $54,000,000 for us if we could achieve a 85% expenditure in salaries. That's a start.

We do not have a lower pupil teacher ratio than other metro systems, nor do we pay our teachers more. Therefore the only conclusion we can come to for 91% of our total expenditures going to salaries is that we have an excess of non-teaching personnel.

That's why we must cut Central Office employees and look at cutting, consolidating and outsourcing in all of the support areas.

Close to half of our employees do not teach. Cutting, consolidating and outsourcing will allow us to redirect those dollars into the classrooms. That's a saving we can understand.

Cerebration said...

1:37 PM Obviously you have no children in a dilapidated school, nor do you have to spend your day teaching in one.

I flip your own question - "Would taxpayers want to pay more for employee health related expenses because of poor air quality? Would taxpayers want to pay larger amounts for utilities due to old facilities? We don't want this for our schools and children and should not want this for the school system employees."

What? We don't want this for our schools and children? Then why do we have it in our schools and for our children? Try breathing the air at some of our schools.

So = why did Lewis and crew choose to make things better for themselves - BEFORE the children? Greed, ego, whatever. I never denied moving the Open Campus and other schools to the St Mt facility - they had to close their schools due to asbestos. Did you know that Cross Keys has asbestos too? Please look at our photo montage on Cross Keys (which was SECOND on the list of SPLOST 3 projects you refer to - just after completion of SPLOST 2 unfinished business and well ahead of any brand new offices for administrators that were never listed anywhere.)

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2009/07/why-is-cross-keys-still-in-limbo.html

BTW - how exactly does moving these offices save that much money? We still own the buildings and certainly have to maintain them, the grounds and the systems. They are not for sale.

Look up the definition of "usurp" and use it in a sentence describing what the administration did to the SPLOST money that was supposed to go to children first. It's selfish behavior that is indefensible. They should have waited in line like everyone else.

Cerebration said...

I will give you this point - I agree that I have a feeling that while highly distasteful, I don't think Pat Pope's behavior and decisions are prosecutable or criminal. I'm no attorney, but attorneys certainly looked at this and said the same thing. Distasteful. Greedy. Self-important. Unethical. Self-absorbed. But probably not illegal.

So - why did Lewis turn her in? And why does he continue to keep her on his payroll at $200,000? And why does he figure it's ok to have to pay consultants to do her job for her while she's still on the payroll?

At any rate - we may as well drop the Heery/Mitchell lawsuit now - our star witness has lost all credibility. Well, the little she still had. Heck, they can even have her in a pickle over her legal name and marital status at the time of hiring. She is a mess. We have no chance of recovering a dime from H/M - just drop it like you should have in the first place Lewis - stop the bleeding - I think we've spent about $15 million already on this idiocy. Another pile of money gone.

Cerebration said...

You know, Anon 1:37, the point that I think is going right by you is the fact that this administration continues to focus first and foremost on themselves. This money was for children - for our schools - but beyond the money - it's about time, care and pride - in giving good things to our children. Any time and attention that the administration takes from construction managers and crews to work on projects that benefit themselves, is time that forces schools that have been waiting for promised construction for years to cool their heels for another year or two - or more. Perhaps not at all - I wouldn't be surprised if some of us get bumped to a "SPLOST 4". There are only so many contractors to go around and only so many projects that can be managed at once - and by putting theirs first, this administration effectively cut in the cafeteria line in front of thousands of kids.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher it saddens me that anyone could defend spending money on renovating offices for administrative staff. Until no school has a leaky roof, sewage systems that work properly, water fountains that work, AC/heating systems that work, no mold and mildew in the AC/heating system ducks or from the leaking roofs, furniture that is good condition, bathrooms that work properly, and the list goes on, then and only then should money be spent on administration buildings.

No one working for DCSS would have a job, if it weren't for the KIDS. Every dollar that is spent and everything that is done should benefit the KIDS. No expense should be made, unless it is going to help the KIDS in some way. Nice administrative offices and expensive lighting for board meetings, have no impact on the kids and are therefore not a necessity.

We are looking at a huge deficit and no one knows for sure how large it is. There are many teachers on the upper level of the pay scale retiring this year-this is good and bad. It's good because it will lower the salary level of the teachers, and it's bad because we are loosing their experience.

The current administration has made a mess out the current system which will take years to change and to clean up so that taxpayers can be proud of the education system in their community.

Do you know that the elementary kids have had "new and improved" math curriculum for three consecutive years and next year it will change again? So make that four years. Our elementary children are not learning any math skills to mastery and are entering middle and high school so far behind, it's not funny. I do not have experience in High School, but can gather from what I have heard and read that the math curriculum just gets worse and worse.

Elementary teachers must give their children benchmark tests, every six weeks in math and reading. Who makes these tests? The curriculum department. They have had errors on them for three years running. We are talking 10 question assessments, do these people not know how to proof read. They are making a lot more money than I am and should be putting out close to perfect materials to show pride in what they are doing.

Besides being a teacher, I am also a tax payer. Dr. Lewis, does not show the teachers or students of DeKalb integrity or honesty or make any of us feel that the education of the children really does matter. I sight these few examples: 1. People lying on free and reduced lunch forms and this being okay, because the school and school system will get more federal funds. 2. The people in charge of creating a budget not knowing the difference between needs and wants. Lakeside bathrooms need to get fixed. We want administrative offices to be new and refreshed. Or the current lighting for Channel 24 is older and works fine, but we'd like to have newer lighting. 3. Posting Gloria Tally's job at her current salary instead of a salary range based on experience. As a teacher, I get paid on my experience, shouldn't our administrators as well? Do I need to go on? I could.

Wake up people, DCSS is not child focused. If they were so many things would be different. There are no perfect systems, but there are many systems doing a much better job for their children than we are for ours.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that SPLOST 4 will be on the ballot this Fall. I have always voted in favor of SPLOSTs. But because the administration has not demonstrated fiscally prudent use of the money until now, I will not vote for SPLOST 4. And I will tell everyone I know not to vote for it.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, we can agree that the order within this SPLOST could have been different. Hopefully we can both agree that as taxpayers, we OWN all the buildings of the school system. More than likely, the North Decatur site will be sold (hopefully as the market improves) thus making the move a 'no cost' investment to the taxpayers.

Back to the point of this article and a point you made @ 4:10 pm, all transactions were APPROVED by lawyers before presentation to the Board. This article is attempting to allege that something was done wrong. Tim Eberly never told you why this was split into two projects even though he knows the answer. When a writer purposely leaves out key information that can help readers understand the full story, they obviously are trying to influence opinion.

Another thing to consider with respect to contract law. Pat Pope has a contract with the school system and has not been charged with anything. If the school system attempted to fire her on 'speculation' of wrongdoing, she would probably sue and win. If they want a separation before her contract ends, their only hope is to quietly negotiate a settlement and insist on a non disclosure agreement. The caveat to this is that they would also need to negotiate whether she would still testify on behalf of the district in the Heery Mitchell lawsuit.

Most don't understand that Dr. Brown and the Board mutually agreed to a separation prior to the end of his contract. He was entitled to all the compensation spelled out in the contract, unless he resigned to take another job. Would any of you leave money on the table? They negotiated what both parties felt was a fair settlement and probably included a non disclosure agreement with it. There was a good discussion on another blog regarding when and how the central office increased in size. Reading it helps you to understand part of reason for Dr. Brown's downfall in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

There was a good discussion on another blog regarding when and how the central office increased in size. Reading it helps you to understand part of reason for Dr. Brown's downfall in DeKalb.

What other blog?

Anonymous said...

Parents want school chief to give back raise. Look at the last few posts on that the history of the teams. You can find it at

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/02/parents-want-schools-chief-to-give-back.html

Anonymous said...

"Another thing to consider with respect to contract law. Pat Pope has a contract with the school system and has not been charged with anything. If the school system attempted to fire her on 'speculation' of wrongdoing, she would probably sue and win."

Anon 7:35, you fail to mention to absurdity with this situation: It was Crawford Lewis, Pope's own supervisor, that gave this information to the District Attorney!! The DA is looking at criminal charges. Georgia is a right to work state, and DCSS can let Pope go right now (as per her contract, they may have to pay her remaining salary).

Leiws is on record saying he told her Vince could not work on any more DCSS projects. But he did. That's cause enough.

I'm think the Anon who keeps calling out Eberly is Manny, pat's lawyer.

But again, when your own boss gives info. to law enforcement about possible criminal behavior, then it's time to cut bait.

Anonymous said...

Parents, teachers, tax payers, and anyone else needs to get it through their head that Lewis isn't giving his raise, expanded expense budget, and retirement perks back.

I do not agree with this, but if he was going to give it back he would have done it by now. He doesn't even think that he has to have any furlough days like the rest of the staff are facing next school year.

We need to come to grips with Lewis' contract extension and raise and work hard to make sure that he does not get offered another contract when this contract is up and that he only earns a bonus if 100% of his bonus goals are met.

People focus your energy on what you can change! Lewis' raise is money down the drain.

Cerebration said...

Anon, if you have information to share that Tim Eberly (and the vast conspiracy at the AJC) left out - then bring it. Otherwise, making weird mysterious references to what Eberly "knows" but "left out" is ridiculous. It's no different than the board members dismissing public opinion saying "if we only knew what they knew"... it's a shut-down and a put-down.

Either dispute Eberly with facts or drop it.

Anonymous said...

"Anon 7:35, you fail to mention to absurdity with this situation: It was Crawford Lewis, Pope's own supervisor, that gave this information to the District Attorney!! The DA is looking at criminal charges. Georgia is a right to work state, and DCSS can let Pope go right now (as per her contract, they may have to pay her remaining salary).

Leiws is on record saying he told her Vince could not work on any more DCSS projects. But he did. That's cause enough."

1st paragraph, you are correct in that they could let her go IF they fufilled her compensation obligations per her contract. Most of the blog have been questioning why she should be paid during this time and that was the point I was referring to.

2nd paragraph, this is where most people keep forgetting that Stan Hawkins advised Dr. Lewis that he saw no conflict of interest. The article also cited a letter that Tony Pope produced saying he had permission to work on the project. How could Dr. Lewis go to the DA with 'concerns' if his own legal counsel saw no wrongdoing? Doesn't that strike you as strange? Is it possible that the DA has not filed charges against Pat Pope because they found no wrongdoing on her part? Is it possible the DA is looking at something else in the district and the media attention with Pat Pope is providing a diversion? With all the 'evidence' provided thus far, don't you think it would be easy to file charges?

Anonymous said...

I imagine that at the end of this Pat Pope did nothing criminally, however it was the Board's expectation that her husband would not be working for DCSS any more. Contractually, as I understand it, it said he would not be a direct payee, but they got around it by him being a sub.

We would be better off if the criminal charges weren't on the table, so Ms. Pope could be terminated for that reason alone.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, I wondered if someone would ask before the evening was out. The project was split into two because the district had to show the Gates Foundation (of Bill and Melinda Gates) plans to house DECA by the 2008-2009 school year. Recall the space needed was 26,000. If the district did not do this, they would have lost several million dollars in addition to the prestige of being a partner with the Gates Foundation. This was all above board and approved by the Board. DECA moved in that section of the Mountain Industrial complex on schedule and continued to receive the funding from the Gates Foundation. These dollars were earmarked and had to be used for this purpose.

Tim Eberly had this information but chose to lead readers along on with a tale of changing the project to help Pat's spouse. Tim knew Pat had nothing to do with the change of the project, she was merely acting on the wishes of the Board. Because he knew that most readers don't know how the process works, he took advantage of that.

And now you know the rest of the story....

Anonymous said...

Cere -- Another fabulous graphic to go with the post! While my blood pressure boils along with other bloggers, it's nice to take a break and have a smile. Thank you.

A rat in a hat is still a rat.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Personally, I take anything I read in the AJC with a grain of salt - I have for a long time. Everyone, I mean everyone, has an agenda - Tim Eberly included. Everly has the ability pick and choose what he reports from the FOI he has received.

We're best in making our decisions by our research, watching board meeting, being involved in our children's schools on a day to day basis, etc., In no way should the AJC be the purveyor of all things truthful.

And no, I'm not Pat Pope's attorney.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:38

thanks for the information. That certainly changes the story.

Anonymous said...

Well said Dunwoody Mom! Just because the AJC said it does not automatically make it true. Unfortunately the AJC has 'defined' DeKalb and many now believe everything they read in the fishwrapper about our country, whether it is accurate or not.

Everyone should have been suspicious about the first paragraph in this story. It suggests she made changes to benefit her husband. In this day and age, could anyone do something as brazen and not get caught? She works at the direction of the superintendent, who works at the direction of the Board. She could have not unilaterally made the decision to change the project scope without direction from above. Tim knows that and readily lets the uninformed speculate about wrongdoings. Interestingly, he did plant nuggets in the article in which a few people admitted nothing was done wrong and the district got the best price for the contract. This way he could say he did not accuse her of wrongdoing.

Who do you think ultimately approved the $4 million dollar increase to the project? The Board did. Again the reasoning is that spending an additional $4 million dollars would save the taxpayers that amount several times over. In fairness, the Board should be credited for that as this is the kind of decisions organizations make when they are looking to cut costs. They spend money in areas that can bring a quick return on investment.

Anonymous said...

@9:16 said regarding the board: "They spend money in areas that can bring a quick return on investment."

Can't wait to see the quick ROI from Dr. Lewis' raise, the staffed employee wellness center, and new lights for the board's TV show. These expenditures certainly have helped employee morale and secured public confidence in the school system.

Cynical? Yes.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

There is such thing as "lying in plain sight". It takes skills and trust to pull it off. Provided both parties take it to their graves.

Seems to me that if Pat Pope is "suspended with pay" and that Dr. Lewis turned her in for suspicious activity/activities, they both can't be right at the same time. Pope either did or did not do what she is suspected of. Dr. Lewis did lodge a true accusation or did lodge a wrong accusation.

Which do you think it is? How can both be defended because? Because a journalist?

Cerebration said...

So, to carry this theory along - Anon, what is Tim Eberly's motivation for mis-reporting as you claim?

Anonymous said...

Motivation? To sell papers! The AJC is having an extremely difficult time financially and subscriptions are way down.

Cerebration said...

Now I'm sorry, but that's laughable. I can't buy for a minute. (Pun intended.) There certainly should be something more sinister than that!

Anonymous said...

Now I'm sorry, but that's laughable. I can't buy for a minute. (Pun intended.) There certainly should be something more sinister than that!

Not sure I understand your disbelief in the power of money as a motivator. I'm not the original Anon btw...just posting a plausible reason. Maybe the original Anon knows a more "sinister" reason why Eberly chose to leave out these pertinent details.

BTW, I have no idea if original Anon is correct. Can anyone confirm? If he/she is correct, then I, for one, think this story is irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

Blame it on the AJC. Now I've heard everything.

Did you say that when the AJC was analyzing our property values by zip code and matching this data with our property taxes. After their in depth reporting and colossal data crunching, the state moved to ensure property values were reviewed and many property taxes were brought in line with property values.

DeKalb Schools has been in the news a lot recently, but no one working in the system is surprised.

For years, layers and layers of bureaucracy have been added time and again and hidden in our swelling budget. This economic crisis is forcing parents/taxpayers to press for changes or see futher and further decreases in a struggling educational system. DeKalb is a ripe plum for investigative journalism. Don't blame the paper for plucking that plum.

Anonymous said...

Since when has the Central Office or the BOE been truly interested in Return on Investment? Our true Return on Investment should be the educational achievement of our children.

If they cared about the true ROI for our school system, Dr. Lewis and the BOE would not stuff the support and admin offices full of personnel and keep raising the pupil teacher ratio as high as they can in schools that are in a deplorable state.

Cerebration said...

Sorry. I didn't mean to be so dismissive. I just can't believe that the AJC would go to such extremes as to virtually misrepresent news stories to sell more papers. But, then again, newspapers are dying a slow death.

Why don't you write a nice long letter to the editor to rebut the story Original Anon?

Ella Smith said...

It is correct that the AJC is having a difficult time. They continue to lay off employees left and right. My daughter-in-law has been un-employed for over a year who worked in Advertisement for the AJC.

They have been cleaning house and it is true that their subcriptions are way down and the economy has hit them as hard as it has hit everyone else in the state. In fact it has hit them harder as they make the majority of their money off advertisement.

I would agree that the AJC is have financial issues. However, I have no idea if anything was left out of the story or not. I do agree that the paper wants readers and needs stories to have readers.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the AJC run some Fulton County Schools stories or some Forsyth County stories is they want to sell papers so badly?

It's true that newspaper circulation is down, but does that make the facts they presented less true?

I agree with Cerebration. Why don't you write an editorial piece and submit it to the paper.

As for the parents in DeKalb County, we do have a bias simply because we have been burned so many times with construction overruns and delays and work simply not being done.

Ask Southwest DeKalb HS (what a horror story that was) and Cross Keys (what a horror story that is) if they are glad the AJC is addressing the construction mess in DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

Funny, Anon, you said, "Not sure I understand your disbelief in the power of money as a motivator," - referring to the AJC, however, why is it that you don't seem able to believe that a million dollars would be a motivator for Pat Pope?

Anonymous said...

I beleave everything the ajc is saying, the only thing that is missing is all the things that have been covered up for years about the system. Before this is over i hope that the tax payers will find out about everything. Maybe you will see then how much parents need to be more involve in
the every day goings owns in the school. If all the wasted money could go back in the schools just think how much the students would have today.

Schools have leaking roofs, hvac units that don't work, mold, mildrew, roaches in the kitchens, rats, r/r that don't work just to name a few. The students should be first on the list, but it's the admin. who want to make sure that have the top paid jobs and there
offices to look like someone living room. It does not take all that to do a job. But when all you do is push a pencil i guess it is ok.

Anonymous said...

Funny, Anon, you said, "Not sure I understand your disbelief in the power of money as a motivator," - referring to the AJC, however, why is it that you don't seem able to believe that a million dollars would be a motivator for Pat Pope?

I didn't say that I doubted that Pat Pope was motivated by money...just that the AJC may have left out an important piece of the story to make it more sensational. They could have told the entire story and still come to the same conclusion, that Pat was directing work to her (ex) husband. It just wouldn't have outraged taxpayers as much if they knew that it ultimately saved the taxpayers money.

I have never been a Pat Pope fan, even when those on this board were singing her praises. But, she did get a lot of schools built on time. Coming from private industry, where construction managers tend to use contractors that they know can do the job, she probably had little understanding and respect for government restrictions that require sealed bids and an unbiased source selection.

Anonymous said...

The point of the earlier posts was not to paint a broad brush about the AJC or justify everything done by Pat Pope. It was to solely focus on the 'sensational' nature of this particular story and point out some inaccuracies. The AJC prints many good stories and Pat may not be someone you'd want to go out for drinks with. Readers should have a 'fair and balanced' presentation of the information. Yes, many people did not comment for this story because of the investigation that is going on. You should not take a 'no comment' statement as an admission of guilt.

Please investigate for yourself the allegations made about the story in these postings. Can Pat Pope change a contract without knowledge and direction from her superiors? Does she select the winning bidder by herself? Does she know in advance what the project should cost in advance to receiving the bids then pass that information along to someone she knows so they can underbid to get the award? These are some of the allegations Tim Eberly has been making and he knows the truth about them.

I don't know Tim so I cannot speak to his motivation. Heery Mitchell definitely benefits from these stories as they are damaging to Pat Pope's credibility and could potentially influence the jury pool. She is the school districts case against them. We have already spent over 10 million on this lawsuit and to lose that investment over these incidents will probably undo Dr. Lewis. Above is an opinion and I do not know if Heery Mitchell has anything to do with these stories.

Dunwoody Mom said...

None of us know if or what the AJC "left out" or embellished upon - to say that you do is disingenuous. Cere, perhaps you could get Tim Eberly to provide you with the unedited information he received so that we may view it ourselves and draw our own conclusions. If not, perhaps one of us could initiate our own FOI request.

The AJC is no different than any other newspaper in today's economy. They are struggling mightily and have descended into this "gotcha" journalism. The old adage "don't believe everything you read" holds true.

Anonymous said...

The Central Office property is virtually worthless, even in a booming economy (when the decision was made to centralized everything). Any one with any sense, would have looked around the area where it is located and asked out loud, exactly who do we think will buy this large property with aging buildings?

No one did. Why not? Because there is an overabundance of cheap, underdeveloped land already available in the area.

The property backs up to single family homes which will limit it uses anyway, but down the street is an abandoned apartment complex. Up and down nearby Memorial Drive are lots of land owners ready to sale if there is a buyer.

Not one board member raised this concern? Hard to fathom.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 6:51 am, you are correct. It is possible the school system may hold onto that property for a while. Unless there is a plan to 'redefine' that area of North Decatur, the only short term option may be to sell to the Clarkston campus of Perimeter. They are growing and perhaps could use the space for overflow parking then use some of the current parking space for new buildings. Just a guess...

Anonymous said...

GPC has no money in the short term either.

They can hold onto it, but the reality is that we have 1000s of students in subpar buildings.

This should have been consider a want not a need and school buildings should have been fixed first.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Not saying it's true, but it would not be the first time a company has used the media to try and "taint" a potential jury pool.

Anonymous said...

Let's see:
Superintendent buying gas in a day - $110
Superintendent hires friend's search firm that results in questionable HR hire - $1,000's
Superintendent demands raise he is "owed" - $15,000
Superintendent and Board approve TV lights - $300,000
People still make excuses and support the Superintendent - PRICELESS !!!

Dunwoody Mom said...

Who is supporting the Superintendent?

Anonymous said...

Not sure who the previous poster had in mind, but it does appear the majority of the Board fully supports Dr. Lewis and his decisions.

Open + Transparent said...

Anon 6:57 AM is 100% correct. Georgia Perimeter College is growing leaps and bounds. The site is perfect for them. Even if the BOE simply leases it to them, that saves big with maintenance and upkeep and you're bringing in a little revenue instead of being in deficit. it would also be a way to partner with GPC for academic programs for DCSS students. I believe GPC would like the site long term even if they don't have the money for a ourchase right now. lease it to GPC, and make lemonade out of a lemon!


And enough with the insane AJC/Tim Eberly speculation. He is a young guy new to covering the county, and comes in with no agenda. The AJC has covered in depth the Clayton schools mess and the Cobb County school construction company scandal. The AJC is covering this because it is news, not because its picking on DCSS.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I have a friend that teaches in Gwinnett. She would LOVE to see even a fraction of the coverage given to DCSS by the AJC focused on Alvin Wilbanks.

He is a young guy new to covering the county, and comes in with no agenda.

Really? And you know this how? Why is a young guy on this? Oh, that's right because the AJC jettisoned all of the veteran reporters with some actual journalism skills.

themommy said...

The GPC Clarkston campus though is fairly stable in terms of enrollment. Enrollment at the other campuses is skyrocketing (see The Dunwoody Crier for many articles about this).

The Dunwoody community has been told that GPC currently has no funds for facility expansion.

Anonymous said...

All the more reason to lease them the site to relieve the congestion at other campuses. It's not going to generate any revenue from just sitting there.

Cerebration said...

I don't know Eberly and certainly wouldn't expect him to pass info to our blog but we can wish! One quote that tips the scale for me came from Lynn Jackson, an official with the state department of education. She said school districts cannot make major changes to construction projects (which Pope and the board did) without advertising them. She said, "If I were a school system, I would want to be more cautious than that."

However, the article also states that the law is not a criminal statute and does not carry a punishment if violated. So the risk/reward ratio certainly must have seemed worth it to Pope.

Thus the rat graphic. But I should have put a fist full of money in the rat's little paw.

I'm not so sure I wouldn't have made the same decision in all honesty. People will get angry and upset and call your character on the carpet for your decision, but what you did was not illegal and it brought a million dollars to your own table - not to mention the salary she continues to collect for doing nothing.

Win/Win for Pope. She must have played a lot of Monopoly as a kid.

Anonymous said...

C Lew may have been speaking off the cuff, but...
“It’s important now that every salary counts,” he said.

The literal translation is that previously, salaries were not important. Hence the frivolous bureaucracy.

Cerebration said...

ps - I did sing Pope's praises on this blog - because in spite of everything, she was getting work done. We hadn't seen that in our area in many, many years. As you can see now, the bulldozers have once again fallen silent.

You know, I've made this point before - but the school system has around $100 MILLION in tax revenue just sitting in the bank waiting to be spent. This COULD have an enormous impact on our local economy - if the school board would just get projects rolling again and get some of the area construction workers back to work!

Dekalbparent said...

We keep hearing from our BOE members "If you knew all the facts / the whole story / what we know, you would understand".

First of all, I find this quite condescending and dismissive. Do we your constituents not possess the cognitive muscle to grasp these things?

Second, you are my elected representative. Why should I NOT know what you know? Why are you not telling me?

Third, if you know stuff I don't know, thus leaving me making erroneous decisions because I have insufficient information, how do you know that YOU have all the information. Just because you get a bunch of pages in a binder does not necessarily mean you were given all the information - you have what they gave you...

I am really sick and tired of the attitude we are getting from ALL our elected representatives on the BOE.

Anonymous said...

Dekalbparent, not to make excuses for ANY Board member for any organization but sometimes they are advised by counsel not to comment, especially when there is an ongoing investigation. I'm sure most have noticed on new programs when they are interviewing someone for a high profile case, they are usually accompanied by their lawyer. The reason, to ensure they do not make comments and/or make statements that could compromise the case.

In other words, we should not take it personally that they cannot be more forthright. It is the litigious society that we live in now that dictates these rules.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 12:19,

I would make an exception for discussion of a legal matter. They conversations I am referring to are about specific budget items, buildings maintenance, construction problems (in ongoing projects), questionable expenditures (e.g. the Wellness Center, or purchase of new furniture to replace 2-year-old furniture that nobody wanted replaced) and what stimulus funds have been used in support of IDEA programs. I believe I am entitled to courteous and reasonable answers to these sorts of questions.

Cerebration said...

Found a quote from Don McChesney's campaign website -

DON McCHESNEY
For DeKalb School Board, District 2
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2008
SPLOST COMMENTS
Do you know we are already spending SPLOST 3 money? It technically does not become available until January 2009. Did you know that all major funding for school construction and remodeling comes from SPLOST money? Other than a few small repair funds for fixing a broken fan , faucet, etc. there are no other funds available to do major work. When I taught in DeKalb we built a whole school system, constructed buildings, supplemented teachers, and had NO SPLOST funds. It was all done with property taxes and grants. Schools were on a rotation for routine maintenance like painting, roof repair etc. Wow, could we benefit from this if it were in place today. Did you know the county has already projected SPLOST money to be spent that has not even been voted on yet? What do we do if your roof wears out before your school's SPLOST money becomes available? You have to get it from someone else in line that is in front of you on the repair list. Now everyone is pushed back on the list. With an aging system of buildings we are constantly chasing our tail. All this because maintenance was neglected over the years. We are facing some hard decisions about our buildings.

Anonymous said...

Just found out another nugget of information that goes to the heart of Tim's story. It seems there is not a state regulation that says a district must re-advertise a project if there has been a scope change. In fairness this insight comes from conversations with several in the constructions business. In situations where bids come in higher than budgeted, districts can enter into negotiation and even split the project, if it provides benefit for the school district. Do you think anyone in the state would have problems if they knew Gates money was involved in the success of the project?

Another point to consider from a comment made by Cerebration at 9:58 am. Remember this statement from Lynn Jackson,

"Lynn Jackson, an official with the state Department of Education, which reviews and approves all school construction projects across the state, said she could not address the Mountain Industrial project. But, speaking generally, she said county school districts cannot make major changes to construction projects without advertising them. "

Did the state DOE approve the DECA project? If so, why did they do so if they felt there was a problem with advertising it? Maybe they approved it because there were no problems with the process? This story is wrought with inaccuracies and Tim Eberly knows it.

Remember people, Pat Pope's signature will NOT be found on any contract authorizing expenditure of funds. A group reviews all bids and makes a recommendation based on the results of a scorecard. The recommendation goes to the Board attorney for review and approval. It then goes to the superintendent for review and approval. It then goes to the Board for approval and the release of funds. Information about the prime and sub appears at every level of the review process. The Board attorney indicated there was not a conflict of interest with this award before sending to the superintendent. The contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, as indicated in the article. One can file an Open Records request and see the documentation for themselves. It's all there.

Why is Tim Eberly trying to mislead the readers and citizens of DeKalb of wrongdoing by Pat Pope?

Anonymous said...

Lynn Jackson (DOE) would not approve this type of project unless it involved FTEs and State Dollars. Obvioulsy the Pat Pope fan is attempting to confuse the readers. Tim Eberly has been a conduit of truth for the many voices of people that have been intimidated and manipulated by the DCSS.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Tim Eberly has been a conduit of truth for the many voices of people that have been intimidated and manipulated by the DCSS.

LOL....

Anonymous said...

+1 DunwoodyMom!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 9:06 PM, the article CLEARLY says that Lynn Jackson approves ALL school construction projects across the state. Now YOU want bloggers to believe that what Tim Eberly said is NOT true for a total project that involves two schools (FTEs), the first which had to be completed for DECA earlier than expected so the district could receive the Gates money? I agree with Dunwoody Mom, ROTFLOL....

Remember this statement,

"Fowler also said that Tony Pope’s involvement on the project was not hidden. The company’s contract with the school district identifies Pope’s company as one of his two architectural subcontractors.
He added that his company did not hire Pope in order to get the county project, nor was the company pressured to hire Pope. It’s not clear why the school system allowed Pat Pope to manage projects in which her husband was involved; school district officials would not comment on the situation, spokesman Dale Davis said. " This came from Tim's article on 12/11 about Pat Pope. Do you think Fowler is lying also? Did the letter produced by Tony Pope from Stan Hawkins not prove the lawyers found no conflict of interest? Tim knows the truth.


In another article, Tim inferred that the district 'lost' state money on a project? He did not tell you that it simply meant the money could be used on another project. Nothing was 'lost' as Tim tried to imply. Tim knows the truth.

Seek the truth....

Anonymous said...

Most of the persons posting here are hoping to improve the situation, or show the school leadership the error of their ways.
Most of us would consider ourselves to be honest, decent people.
The trouble with this thinking is that we tend to think everyone else is , also.
We're approaching the DCSS leadership in wrong way by giving them the benefit of the doubt. For anything.
What none of us would ever think about doing in a million years morally or ethically, some of the current and past leaders from the DCSS would jump on in a heartbeat. Contract creation, arranging for free text books when the money's already been approprited in the budget, tying overcrowded to undercrowded schools together in a manner that the undercrowded schools suddenly qualify for Title 1.
For those who have done so:
After dealing with the school board, superintendant, or other higher up decision makers at DCSS
did you find them sincere? Concerned? Or, most importantly, truthful about the situation when considered long afterwards.
I've dealt with all three levels in the past. If any of them were to now shake my hand, I'd probably be tempted to count my fingers, to make sure they were still all there.
Dishonest individuals can be so successfully when they are good are gauging others. They can also find like-minded individuals to help them in their dishonesty. Successful dishonesty requires assistance from two types of individuals:
1.Look outs
2. People who can look the other way when dishonest things are occurring.
The best way to find these two types of individuals is to gauge them first, and then compensate them much more then they would normally make if they pass the initial test. How much do you think some of the front office DCSS types would make in the free market? Think they'd crack 60 grand a year? Might it be possible that they realize this, and continue to be good little soldiers so that the gravy train doesn't stop?

Anonymous said...

Would I believe the AJC or Dekalb's BOE? I'm sorry to say I would believe the AJC over the BOE.

The fact is the BOE hired a superintendent who grew admin and support personnel and compensation for higher level employees to an unsustainable level.

Now Dr. Lewis and the BOE want to increase the pupil teacher ratio which will probably put less than half of our employees actually teaching in order to balance the budget.

Saying they have not been good stewards of our SPLOST dollars (the bulk of which goes for construction), Title 1 dollars, or our general fund dollars is a gross understatement.

No person who has been involved in any construction project (principal, parent, teacher or student) can say we are getting our money's worth out of our SPLOST dollars spent on construction.

To name a few construction nightmares:
1. Doors that open the wrong way
2. Dangerous dust and debris and noise disrupting classes as promised construction dates bleed into the class year
3. Architectural mistakes like "forgetting" to put in entire rooms
4. Incorrect measurements that result in tearing out new construction for expensive "do overs"
5. Months and often times years of construction delays
6. A general lack of cost containment that drives up the overall cost of construction

Pat Pope is (still) the second highest paid employee in DeKalb County with only Dr. Lewis as her competitor. Shouldn't we be concerned that she has been (and is still being paid) for such shoddy oversight? Shouldn't we be concerned that judging from her pay construction is more important than academics in this administration.

When the DA shows up at the offices of the second highest paid employee in DeKalb County and carts out box after box of files, that is newsworthy. When the superintendent makes allegations in an official inquiry against that the second highest paid employee in the county, that's newsworthy.

The AJC is just printing what is newsworthy. Personally, I'm glad they're printing all these stories. Maybe the taxpayers will take time to vote this BOE out of office.

Cerebration said...

I'm going to share a bit of testimony from the Heery depositions that was sent to the blog.

At a meeting of the DCBOE on June 13, 2005, Dr. Crawford Lewis requested that the Board authorize the employment of Lanta Technology Group to conduct an assessment of DCSD's (DeKalb Co School District's) Human Resources Department. The stated purpose was to identify and prioritize the areas that needed to be reorganized, retrained, reamped and redirected. Surprisingly, his undertaking occurred out of view of the public bid process. Instead, Dr. Lewis informed the Board that it was "urgent" to proceed with this assessment as quickly as possible. Dr. Lewis expressed that he had a long relationship with Lanta and had a great deal of confidence in them. (Motion was adopted 6-2) Shortly after, Dr. Lewis engaged the services of Lanta as "head hunters".

In his deposition Lewis states:

Q Are you familiar with Lanta?
A I am
Q How are you familiar with them?
A We asked Lanta to come in and do an assessment of our HR Dept
Q Have they placed any employees with the school district?
A They have
Q Do you recall which employees?
A Yes, Pat Pope, I want to say Gloria Talley and Darren Ware
Q Was Mr Ware placed in the human resources dept?
A Yes he was
Q How long was he here?
A A short period of time, maybe a couple of months or so
Q Ok and why did he leave?
A We learned that Mr Ware - had not been truthful about his employment and education
Q Ok so honesty is important to the DeKalb County School System?
A I think honesty is important


Pay attention to Dr Lewis' use of the word "urgent" to get board approvals. This occurs over and over. I"m betting it will come up regarding these budget cuts.

For those unfamiliar with Darren Ware, here is the link to the news item -

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/8868818/detail.html

Cerebration said...

In her deposition, Ms Pope was asked about her employment history. She testified that after completion of college, her first employment was with a company she called "Eichley". ... then for a couple of years, she worked for Epstein Construction in Chicago. Next, she worked for a smaller company, but she forgot the name of it. Then a company identified as "Ruscilli" where she was a project manager for commercial construction. Next, Lathrop Company, a division of Turner Construction for about 2 years. Then she moved to Atlanta to take a position with Skanska, USA (Beers), -- she then went to Manhattan Construction Company and remained there until 2004 when she left to work with her purported husband, an architect. After that, she became an employee of DCSC (See deposition of Patricia A. Pope, Novermber 13, 2007, pp 19-26).

Cerebration said...

At another point, Pope was asked about her relationship with Lanta during the time she was being recruited by the DCSD. The resume that was furnished to the DCSD was identified by Pat Pope.

... numerous spects of Ms. Pope's prior employment were omitted and the chronology was confusing and unexplained. - Here is some of her testimony -

Q Ok I noticed that on your resume - you gave the names of certain entities that don't appear on the resume, in your previous testimony. Was there a reason for that?
A Generally, on a resume, and I'm not positive why - since I didn't produce it - but generally on a resume, the rule of thumb is the last 5 years.
Q Ok but the way I understand it, you were employed by Eichley Engineers from 1980-1990, is that correct?
A No I didn't do that I'm not sure who did. I'm not sure who did.
Q Ok Were you at Rucilli from 1990-1994?
A No I was at Ruscilli and then Lathrop.
Q Lathrop. I'm sorry.
A Yeah, so that is really messed up.
Q Is that accurate with Skanska, USA?
A I log about -- no. Actually Skansa, no. I can't say who did that, no.
Q Did you proof your resume before they puti it on?
A No this is the first time I've seen this one.

Anonymous said...

It is fascinating the see the tangled web Dr. Lewis and his leadership personnel have weaved.
If Ms Pope did indeed mislead Dr. Lewis as to who was getting what benefits from certain contracts, and as I understand Dr. Lewis said she was not honest with him, what in the world was he thinking when he recommended renewing her contract?

Cerebration said...

The court documents on the plaintiff's (Heery's) motion go on -

In addition to the numerous discrepancies regarding her employement history, it is also important to not that the resume submitted to the DCSD dos not identify "Patricia Pope" as the candidate for employment. Instead, ther resume pertains to "Patricia A. Reid". ...

She repeated the use of Patricia A. Reid when she prepared and submitted her application for employment with DCSD.

The name "Mrs. Patricia A. Reid" also appears.

She identifies her employer as DeKalb County Schools with Dr. Lewis as her supervisor. Her duties are stated to be "Consultant for SPLOST Program."

Ms Pope furnishes information about her previous employment and as to "Employer/Activity1" she states that she was employed by Vincent Pope & Aossociates, Inc. as Chief Operating Officer and that her immediate supervisor was Anthony V. Pope. In the space marked "your name when employed (if different) is left blank, creating the impression that her name was Patricia Reid when she worked for Vincent Pope.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the court documents in its entirety - did your "source" provide that to you, cere? Or is he just feeding you snippets of the testimony.

Anonymous said...

Pope and Crawford once again fail the smell test.

As someone who has to hire many employees, she is crazy is she says the rule of thumb is last five years of employment!! She must live on a planet other than earth. It is inexcusable not to list every employer for every full-time position you've held since college graduation. I can't remember all of my part-time jobs from high school and college, but forgetting your full-time jobs? Plus, it is standard practice in the construction industry to regularly update your resume.

Crawford Lewis was clearly aware of her previous experience. He brought her to DCSS, along with the Lanta group who brought us Darren Ware. Crawford should be let go just as Pope should be let go. Good riddance!

Cerebration said...

In this employment application, for the first time in this case, Ms Pope has disclosed that prior to her current employment, she held a position with the DCSD as a consultant for the SPLOST program, working under the supervision of Dr Lewis.

In addition, from Sept 2004 to Oct 2005, Ms Pop states that she was simultaneously employed by Vincent Pope & Associates (and DCSD). (Her) application leaves many unanswered questions: When did she assume the position of "consultant" for the SPLOST program? How much wa sh being paid as a consultant? Was she being paid with SPLOST revenue? Was Ms Poope actually a consultant for SPLOST prior to the inception of the search process conducted by Lanta?Why didn't she inform Lanta of her employment with Vincent Pope & Associates? Was the 'search' process by Lanta merely a ruse to mislead the board? ... Were Ms. Pope and Dr. Lewis concealing an ongoing confict of interest created by Ms Pope's simultaneous employment by both the BOE and one of its architects?


Granted - this is taken from the Heery Mitchell plea to the court - but it does make you wonder...

Cerebration said...

Oops - typo - that was supposed to be 15 years...

Anonymous said...

Time to settle, 'cause DCSS and Crawford aren't winning the Heery lawsuit.

And even more questions: Why was Pope presented by Lanta for DCSS employment whwn she was already a DCSS consultant. Bat and switch. Red herring. Whatever ya call it, it stinks.

Anonymous said...

Who owns Lanta?

Dunwoody Mom said...

This just adds more credence to my suspicions that Heery is behind the AJC stories.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Lanta Group "washes" prospective employees to "legitimize" them so that Dekalb Schools can "hire" whom they wanted to in the first place at the agreed upon "exhorbitant" salary.

Who else was "annointed" by Lanta?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom raises a good point again, this smells like Heery is behind the AJC stories. They have the most to gain by the stories published by the AJC in damaging Pat Pope's credibility. Will in be enough to cause a potential change of venue? Time will tell.

King and Spaulding is the firm representing the school system in the case against Heery. Their reputation speaks for itself. Do you think they would have taken the case if they did not think they could win? Think about it.

As Cerebration pointed out, she is sharing information from the HM plea to the court. Has any judge thrown this out yet? Does the judge think there is enough evidence to proceed? Think about it.

To be employed by the school system, the Board has to approve your contract. This is true for employees, consultants, & contractors. Executive searches are normally done through a head hunter firm. You don't find those kind of positions in the AJC classifieds or Monster.com. In private industry, it is not unusual for a QUALIFIED consultant to seek a permanent position with the firm they are providing services for. Recall this is around the time that Dr. Pritchett's separation from the school system, partially due to the negative publicity of cost overruns, numerous change orders and the Southwest DeKalb project.

Part of the case against HM is whether they should have approved change orders for fixed bid contracts. There is probably far more to the case than this but think about the cost overruns at Southwest DeKalb. This prevented other projects from being completed and/or started. Should the school system attempt to recover money they believe they overpaid?

Think about it...

Anonymous said...

After dealing with the school board, superintendant, or other higher up decision makers at DCSS
did you find them sincere? Concerned? Or, most importantly, truthful about the situation when considered long afterwards.


Absolutely, I have found my school board members sincere and concerned. I have met with Cassandra Anderson-Littlejohn, Chip Franzoni, and Jim Redovian and found them all to be dedicated public servants who put in a lot of time for very little money.

I have also met with many higher ups in the DCSS administration. I have always found them to be concerned, sincere, and truthful.

Can you give some specifics about situations in which you were lied to? Or an example of a statement which showed that a school board member or DCSS administrator did not care about children?

Anonymous said...

"King and Spaulding is the firm representing the school system in the case against Heery. Their reputation speaks for itself. Do you think they would have taken the case if they did not think they could win? Think about it."

King and Spalding has made $15 million on a $500,000 case - would they take a case they did not think they could win? Heck yes, think about it.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:15 pm

"After dealing with the school board, superintendent, or other higher up decision makers at DCSS
did you find them sincere? Concerned? Or, most importantly, truthful about the situation when considered long afterwards."

That's really not the most important criteria as far as I'm concerned. They can be sweet and nice, but have they produced results that will move children forward in DeKalb County Schools?

Of course they have people skills. How do you think they got elected? How do you think the Central Office higher-ups got their high paid positions? They're politicians first, and educators second.

But have they been good stewards of our tax dollars? Absolutely not. Look at the train wreck DeKalb County Schools has become. It can't all be blamed economy as much as they would like to do this.

DeKalb has had incredible problems for many a number of years - inadequate school facilities, high pupil teacher ratio, the worst access to technology and science equipment in the metro area, etc.

The BOE has allowed Dr. Lewis to swell admin and support ranks at the expense of teachers in the classroom. The BOE members have rubber stamped the expenditure of millions upon millions of dollars for learning programs that teachers do not want. Even worse, they never asked for any proof of those programs working before they authorized spending even more money on those programs. I have sat in BOE meetings and waited for the tough questions, but they weren't there.

I've been working with a non-profit organization recently and have met with 2 different Congressional Representatives (one House member and one Senator). They probably won't vote for the bill, but boy they sure are courteous, nice, respectful, and sincere. I kept having to remind myself they are where they are because they have great people skills.

This BOE might have some very congenial people on it, but it has not been effective.

Anonymous said...

"King and Spalding has made $15 million on a $500,000 case - would they take a case they did not think they could win? Heck yes, think about it."

Au contraire Anonymous, this case is worth several million dollars. One report was over $75 million for the district. The $500,000 is what HM was suing DeKalb for. Give the district some credit, their lawyers would not recommend the school district use such a high powered firm for $500,000.

Think about it....

Anonymous said...

"Or an example of a statement which showed that a school board member or DCSS administrator did not care about children?"

I'm tired of apologists saying the BOE and Central office "care" about children. You can care all you want, but if you are ineffective, unproductive, make poor decisions over and over, "caring" means little when it comes to running a billion dollar operation.

Cerebration said...

Dr Lewis Interview continues -

When you met with Ms. Pope, were there any restrictions that you placed on her regarding her involvement in matters relating to Mr. Pope?
A Ys, yes.
Q ok Do you recall what those restrictions were?
A I think so. Mr Pope was already working on a project in DeKalb schools at the time we were doing the interviews. And Mrs. Pope and Mr. Pope came in and shared with me that they were husband and wife.
And at that time, Mrs. Alexander and Mr. Hawkins and I shared with them that there was only one option, either Mr. Pope could continue to work as an architect, or if Ms Pope took the job opportunity, he would not be able to continue working in DeKalb because of the conflict of interest.
And we -- I consulted with our attorneys and with the Board and we were in agreement that we would allow Mr. Pope to finish the work that he had -- that he had begun.

Cerebration said...

I have also learned from these documents that DCSS paid over $3.5 million to a company called Nielsen-Wurster/Marsh for an enormous 54-volume study to determine the damages to seek against Heery Mitchell. By evaluating 20 projects, the company then used an average score and applied it to all of the SPLOST 1&2 projects to come up with a figure of somewhere between $85 and 125 million in damages.

This all sprang from the fact that when originally hired, Pat Pope fired about 3 people who then sued DCSS and Heery sued for $500,000 owed.

That's pretty much all the info we have access to here at the blog. You all can hash about it all you want now, but know that this is coming from a half-ream of paper in a case with about 60 full boxes of files at the courthouse. It's enormous and complicated and if it ever goes to trial, I'll be happy to announce that I have a conflict of interest if chosen for jury pool.

Anonymous said...

Not many detail people in the Central Office I would imagine. They must be busy seeing the "big picture".

So many millions spent on consultants and lawyers and so little left for students.

Cerebration said...

This is from the AJC article --

It appears that Tony Pope should not have been working on the project, regardless. Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis has said that he told Pat Pope that Tony Pope could not work as a subcontractor for the project or any others he wasn’t already working on before his wife joined the school system.

Tony Pope disputes that. He contends that he was given written permission by the school district to be a subcontractor on the project. He gave the AJC a copy of an April 2008 letter he said granted him the permission.

In it, an attorney for the school district, J. Stanley Hawkins, wrote to Lewis that he did not consider the arrangement a conflict of interest.

“I told Pat that so long as there was no actual conflict of interest — and I did not see one here — the situation did not present any legal problem at all,” Hawkins wrote. “To the extent that any issue is presented, it is one of perception.”

But Hawkins left the ultimate decision up to the school board. It’s unclear whether the board resolved the matter.


So, in the end, Lewis himself signed the contract that plainly showed Pope Architects as a vendor.

Cerebration said...

Anon 12:31 PM, I have hard copies of these documents. That's why there are typos - I'm having to retype them.

Anonymous said...

With all this information that i just read, correct me if i am wrong but everything that pope has done was not legal as she lied about what she had done and who she was? If this is true i feel a law suit coming from several people that she did things too. Lewis should be gone as he let her do all these things and he and her both told people that he didn't want to hear any complaints against pope, he said in one meeting that he was d-- tried of people talking against pope.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 10:45 PM, I'll correct you. You are wrong. How did you miss this statement from the Sunday article.

“I told Pat that so long as there was no actual conflict of interest — and I did not see one here — the situation did not present any legal problem at all,” Hawkins wrote. “To the extent that any issue is presented, it is one of perception.”

Pat Pope may be able to sue the AJC and Tim Eberly for knowingly excluding key information from a story. Their job is to report the news not create the news with inaccuracies.

Anonymous said...

Ok we will have to wait and see what happens. I just hope that the truth comes out and the kids get what they need, that is what this is all about.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:15

Having her husband as a sub goes against the intention of both the contract she signed and what she said.

Yes, it was implicitly stated that he couldn't be a direct payee of DCSS funds. But Ms. Pope is very smart. She heard the many questions raised at the time of her hiring from board members and citizens alike, that wondered about Vincent Pope. She assured all that his relationship with DCSS would end.

It didn't. Illegal, maybe not? Unethical... I think so.

Anonymous said...

So, when do we get to read the depositions of the Heery officials? Why is it that only the depositions of Pope and Lewis are being reported upon? Tim Eberly? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

"Having her husband as a sub goes against the intention of both the contract she signed and what she said.

Yes, it was implicitly stated that he couldn't be a direct payee of DCSS funds. But Ms. Pope is very smart. She heard the many questions raised at the time of her hiring from board members and citizens alike, that wondered about Vincent Pope. She assured all that his relationship with DCSS would end.

It didn't. Illegal, maybe not? Unethical... I think so."

Why is everyone missing this key point? If you were a Board member and this recommendation was brought to you with Pat Pope's husband as the sub, with the statement from Stan Hawkins (no conflict of interest and legal) and approval by Dr. Lewis, how would you vote? If you believed this was unethical, you might vote no. If you did and your fellow Board members did the same, would there be an issue?

Who ultimately approves all projects and did so unanimously in this case? Should that group have the ultimate responsibility?

Anonymous said...

Does the board approve subs?

Anonymous said...

Yes. The superintendent brings forth the recommendation in the HR report (you can see this attached in the work session meeting agenda) for the Board to ultimately approve. Does the Board review each sub name? Probably not. They have charged the superintendent with running the day to day operations and they approve decisions which require an expenditure of funds.

If the sub/employee is a family member of a cabinet member, it is voted on separately.

Dunwoody Mom said...

To follow up on Anonymous 0714 point, the reports of all the committees, bids being approved, etc., are all attached to the BOE meeting agendas. They are full of information and worth the while to review.

Anonymous said...

If Pat Pope is guilty (or performed unethical behavior) of recommending a project that her husband is a sub on then

-Is the panel that selects the winning bidder guilty?

-Is the board attorney that approves the recommendation from the panel guilty?

-Is Dr. Lewis who approves the recommendation from the Board guilty?

-Is the Board that approves the recommendation from Dr. Lewis guilty?

-Is the state that approves all projects guilty?

Tim Eberly knows the answers to these questions.

Think about it.....

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I could not care less about what Tim Eberly knows.
The project to house the Central Office has ballooned out of contol to house a bloated staff, the Superintendent has stated his Chief Operations Officer was not honest with him, funds that should have gone to eliminate deferred maintenance in the schools went to the project, the Board recently added $300,000 to improve their TV lighting.
If this were a business the stockholders would be demanding the entire leadershiop go.

Cerebration said...

I agree, that is the over-arching point. We have far too greedy, self-absorbed leadership making decisions that benefit themselves first and foremost. There are still thousands of children who have not had their SPLOST needs met - and Dr. Lewis continually makes the point that there is not enough money to meet all the needs - $2 billion in identified needs and only $1 billion in revenue. So - why did they spend and continue to spend so much on themselves?

And Anon 6:50 AM - I'm not sure what you mean by "when do we get to read other testimony"? There are literally about 60 large boxes of papers on this case at the courthouse. Anyone who wants to leaf through them can. But, since this is a lawsuit that involves Dr Lewis and Pat Pope, and they are top school system employees, we are interested in their recorded depositions. There will be an enormous court case starting up soon - and I predict this is going to get pretty complicated. We'll do our best to follow - but unless you attend the trial and report on it yourself, you'll have to go with what news reporters who do - tell you.

Cerebration said...

This is why I quoted Don McChesney above -

What do we do if your roof wears out before your school's SPLOST money becomes available? You have to get it from someone else in line that is in front of you on the repair list. Now everyone is pushed back on the list.

He's right!

Cerebration said...

And I actually agree with you Anon, 7:54 AM. However, there's one weird piece that doesn't connect - it was Dr. Lewis who asked the DA to investigate Pat Pope. Obviously he doesn't feel that everything is hunky dorey.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 8:34 am

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Anonymous said...

School maintenance in DeKalb is a bit like the aging sewer system in the city of Atlanta. No one paid attention to it until it was collapsing. They were too busy adding personnel and building power centers.

I remember teaching in DeKalb the 80s, and my principal would say we're due for a new roof this summer. We were on a maintenance schedule. We didn't have SPLOST. We just did it. Of course, we didn't have the top heavy administration, incredible number of support personnel, or expensive learning programs we have now either.

We lost our focus in the mid 90s when Dr. Hallford established 16 "teams". There was a regional superintendent (don't remember the exact title) and a phalanx of coordinators for each team. Close to 100 administrators were added in a year.

The regional "team" concept didn't last very long - a few years at most and the players and regions kept changing so no one was really responsible for anything. As the teams were disbanded, the newly hired administrators stayed in the Central Office, and they created other positions for them. We still have their legacy today.

As the song goes, "How You Gonna' Keep 'Em Down On The Farm After They've Seen Paree?"

Anonymous said...

To Cerebration @ 8:34, remember SPLOST dollars are for needs OVER AND ABOVE what can be done with the general budget. For example let's assume you have set aside dollars for your childrens higher education endeavors. You unexpectedly need money for car repairs. If you did not have the money in your general budget/savings, you might 'borrow' from your childrens set aside with the promise to pay it back at a later time.

For the scenario Don mentioned, you would first look at the maintenance and operations budget. One should be able to fund the project at this point. If not, they may look at unallocated SPLOST dollars and change priorities accordingly. The Board would have to approve taking dollars from another project and allocating it to another, even it it were an emergency situation.

Anonymous said...

"And I actually agree with you Anon, 7:54 AM. However, there's one weird piece that doesn't connect - it was Dr. Lewis who asked the DA to investigate Pat Pope. Obviously he doesn't feel that everything is hunky dorey."

That is the piece that should answer many question for the citizens of DeKalb. Going to the DA also suggests he may not have had confidence with the statement from Stan Hawkins. Dr. Lewis still must answer why he approved a project and forwarded it to the Board that he had concerns about.

Cerebration said...

So, Anon, how did the board go about approving moving their own offices and Dr Lewis, etc offices - from the A/B buildings - and building them out nicely for them - all before Cross Keys got their construction? Cross Keys was 2nd on the list of priorities - just after completion of SPLOST 2 projects. And don't say - it was due to community disagreement - this is what Pat Pope has said and there absolutely was no disagreement - or indecision from that community.

Leap frog - that's the game here.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, the projects are not done sequentially, they are done in parallel. Each project has separate completion dates. If something happens to impacts an early project, that does not mean you slow down on the other projects until you resolve the issue with the early project.

I recall reading on this blog that events beyond Pat Pope's control caused a delay with the Cross Keys project. They continued to work on Tucker, the schools that needed roof or HVAC work, and yes the Mountain Industrial project. It is number 11 on the list.

When you think about it, it is like the race cars where one uses water guns at the carnival. If something happens to slow one car down, that does not prevent the other cars from moving forward. Unfortunately the Cross Keys project was delayed.

Cerebration said...

Well, I may be thick sometimes, but I'm not dumb. I realize that you don't STOP other projects. But you don't make up and insert new ones either.

There were never reasonable reasons given for stopping Cross Keys. There are only so many contractors to go around and only so many projects that can be managed at once. When you insert something totally new in the line up it really hurts the rest of the projects that had originally been cued. No doubt.

Anonymous said...

My apologies as I did not mean to imply that. As mentioned earlier on this blog, the Mountain Industrial project is #11 on the CIP so it was not 'new'. It was not as transparent as it should have been but it was there. Citizens can reasonably have an issue about this.

Can't speak any more on Cross Keys other than what has already been said.

Cerebration said...

Did the Mountain Industrial project always involve moving the A/B offices? I was under the impression it was for Open Campus and DECA.

Anonymous said...

"Did the Mountain Industrial project always involve moving the A/B offices? I was under the impression it was for Open Campus and DECA."

Yes, this is what I was referring to as a 'less than open + transparent' part of the CIP. $30 million was allocated for the schools and the build out for the Central office. The Print shop was scheduled to be there also however that was cut in June 2009.