Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bloomberg Accountability

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is big on holding New York City public school teachers accountable, but when it comes to the consultants he and his cronies hire, there's no accountability whatsoever. So says the NY Daily News:

Consultants are not only getting more than a million dollars apiece from taxpayers to find school cost savings - they're also getting as much as $500 a day for expenses.

And they don't even have to submit receipts.

It's an arrangement City Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) called "outrageous" and vowed to investigate when the Education Committee he chairs convenes a hearing today on the use of no-bid contracts in the city schools.

School officials last year awarded a record-breaking $121million worth of contracts without the public review required of most city agencies, a Daily News analysis found.

One of the largest and most controversial contracts put the city-based Alvarez & Marsal in charge of school finances for 17-1/2 months to find ways to cut bureaucracy.

The contract - which was initially posted publicly for $17 million but later modified to $15.8million - includes 19 consultants billing at rates ranging from $275 to $450 an hour, including seven whose total bills will top $1 million.

It also includes an 11% flat fee totaling $1.6 million for expenses, mostly "costs of living in New York, including hotels and flights," said Education Department spokesman David Cantor.

Some of the consultants, including project leader Sajan George, do commute from other states. George is billing $500 per day for expenses - $190,575 in all - on top of the $1.7 million he's billing for his time.

"Unbelievable!" gasped schools watchdog Noreen Connell of the Educational Priorities Panel when she heard about the expense allowance.

"If they're working for Time Warner or something, that's fine but ... in the government arena, you really have to think that this is coming out of someone else's hide."

Cantor said the firm is already working at a discounted rate and said the Department of Education decided it was not going to "make them spend the time processing ... these small-change items."

The firm has already cut at least $89 million in administrative costs so that schools could hire teachers and counselors, Cantor said.

"That's the bottom line for us," Cantor said. "We are getting a tremendous return for our money."

These consultants who are costing taxpayers shitloads of money per day were hired by Mayor Moneybags and Chancellor Klein to find ways to save the taxpayers money by cutting expenses in the public school system.

Hey - here's an novel idea to save money. Why don't we start by cutting out all the dough being paid to "consultants" like Alvarez & Marsal.

That's Mayor Moneybags for you - he's all about accountability for the little people, but when it comes to his fellow billionaire businessmen and crony consultants, the skies the limit.

I do work for a private consulting firm under contract to New York State and I get paid $300 a day plus expenses that are rarely more than $25.

Maybe I should bid for one of these city contracts!
There will also, according to Class Size Matters, be no oversight about how the mayor spends the CFE funds.

Rather than complain they've been cut by half, the mayor rejoices over that.
Elizabeth, becoming a political crony is definitely the way to go. I've learned that by watching Giuliani, Bloomberg, the NYCDOE, and the UFT.
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