Sunday, January 24, 2010

No-bid deal costs DeKalb schools

Sigh. Here we go. Apparently while Dr. Lewis was being "interviewed" by the DA about his car purchase and questionable P-card purchases, the heat must have gotten to him as he decided to 'mention' to the DA that the school system was conducting its own internal audit of Pat Pope.

Read today's front page of the AJC (oh great) about our completely unruly, embarrassing school system leadership. This isn't going to end anytime soon, I'm afraid.

Some excerpts:
Embattled DeKalb County school official Patricia “Pat” Pope cost the school system nearly $1 million in state matching funds when she awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a construction company without competitive bids, a move that resulted in more work for her architect husband. ...

The six school construction projects being scrutinized are valued at more than $110 million, and county authorities are investigating whether Pope broke the law by allegedly steering contracts to her husband’s architecture firm, her friend Moody’s company and another construction company, Turner Construction.

DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis alerted authorities to Pope’s actions on the Columbia High project during a taped interview with a District Attorney’s Office investigator on Nov. 26, 2008.

In the interview, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lewis suggests that Pope could have been trying to direct business to her husband.

Lewis, who has declined to talk to the AJC about the criminal case, told the investigator that Pope should have allowed construction companies a chance to compete for the multimillion-dollar contract.

But by giving it to a company that had been working on two previous phases of the project with Pope’s husband, “it means that he [Tony Pope] keeps getting paid.” ...

But midway through the interview, he veered off topic to discuss Pat Pope and what he had recently learned about her.

Lewis said the school district’s internal affairs office had been investigating Pope for several weeks, after one of Pope’s employees “made lots of allegations about Ms. Pope and other things that she had seen in the office that are not right, about contracts.”

Lewis also said that internal affairs had been investigating allegations that Pope had tampered with the competitive bidding process on construction projects.

Then he quickly focused on the Columbia High situation.

“The bottom line is we know that Ms. Pope should have re-bid the third phase of the Columbia High School project,” Lewis told the investigator. “She was told to do that by our construction attorney and by Lynn Jackson, who is the director of capital outlay for the state. I’ve talked to these people. They all tell me they told Pat to do it. Lynn said that Pat is very stubborn. She does things her way.”

In the interview, Lewis said he confronted Pope about the Columbia project.

“So I called Pat the next day and said, ‘Pat, were you told to re-bid that project by Greg Morgan [the school district’s former construction attorney] or by Lynn Jackson?’ And she said no. Now I’d already talked to them, so I know that they told her to do it.”

Less than two weeks after Lewis’ interview, school system police officers and information system employees examined records from Pope’s office, and school officials began interviewing Pope’s employees.

But, three months later in February, while the investigation into Pope was under way, Superintendent Lewis chose to continue Pope’s employment and gave her a new contract making nearly $200,000 a year.

Did you catch the date of this original "interview"? -- Nov. 26, 2008. That was 14 months ago. I have no hope anymore that this will be resolved. It's all just smoke and mirrors. There are no laws against what Pope did. These people will walk. Thus - the Cheshire Cat smiles.

I am crushed - crushed to think that really, no one is actually looking out for the education of our children. How can they? They are far too distracted investigating their own, selfish, materialistic actions.

Again, sigh.


BTW - so that we don't carry on two conversations on this topic, please leave your comments on O&T's post - "Our Superintendent: A Weasel?"

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