The latest county scandal is grabbing some attention finally. The short version is that a high level employ of the county in the Office of Information Technology has been busted for bid rigging. A total of 3 people have been put on leave and one is no longer employed with the county. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of dollars are involved. The figures have not been released. According to the Chairman of the BOCS, Corey Stewart, in the News and Messenger:
“Employees in the county Information Technology Department allegedly had a relationship with the vendor,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, R-At-Large, on Wednesday. “The allegation is that one of these employees may have awarded a contract or multiple contracts to a vendor with whom he allegedly had a financial relationship or some sort of business relationship.”
This story was first alluded to on April 30, 2009 in the News and Messenger. The story basically said nothing. An unnamed supervisor got wind of (an) unnamed employee(s) who was awarding bids of an unnamed amount to unnamed companies. The Office of Internal Auditor connected the dots to fiscal improprieties.
Considering that the bid rigging was part of an on-going investigation, it makes sense that neither the county nor Mr. Stewart would comment on the particulars. However, Greg Letiecq picked up the story. Interestingly enough, some of his anonymous readers seemed to know quite a bit more than was released in the newspaper. It makes one question what tales were being told out of school and by whom. It is even stranger that so far, he has not commented further, even though more information is available. Was he told he was under a gag order too?
Today’s story in the News and Messenger adds considerably more information to this tale of intrigue. The FBI has been brought in to further the investigation. Their involvement suggests the enormity of the wrong-doing. Additionally, more than one vendor is likely involved. The vendors are as culpable as the county employees.
One significant quote from the article bears highlighting:
Because the investigation is ongoing, information released to the public has been minimal.
When I tried to find out information several weeks ago, everyone I talked to acted very much like the cat had their tongue. One friend even said,” we are under a gag order. I cannot discuss this.” On the other hand, if one reads other blogs and newspaper comments closely, it appears that confidential information has been rather selectively released to certain individuals but not to the general public.
The more that I read of this malfeasance the more questions seem to be cropping up. At a time when the county is scrambling for every penny it can find, malfeasance, greed, corruption and plain old theft just seem to not have a place in our government. The auditors who uncovered the impropriety report to the board chair rather than to the county executive. This reporting procedure was enacted about a year and half to 2 years ago. Despite what one might read on other blogs, these auditors are county employees, rather than being outsiders. Why do they only report to the board chair?
I would like to see a time line, a chronology, as it were, of this ongoing situation. Who brought the situation to the forefront? When did they do this? When was the BOCS chair informed? When did he contact the police or did the auditors contact the police since criminal activities were involved?
How will all of this financial indiscretion affect our bond rating? How will it affect the schools? How will it affect future funding with grant money? Who snooped out the information using a FOIA request? Why did they want to know?
Why do some people with friends in elected positions seem to know more than the general population?