Monday, July 30, 2012

Corruption with a "C"

So the state comptroller's office has been looking into the Town of Hurley's methods when it comes to hiring outside contractors to do town business. What it finds is that the town is sorely lacking when it comes to due diligence in this process:
Town officials did not procure any of the 10 professional services providers tested, who were paid $510,419, through any form of competitive process. In addition, the Board did not enter into written agreements with nine of these providers.

Town officials did not obtain the required quotations for purchases totaling $26,254 from six of 12 vendors tested.

Two Board members had conflicts of interests in Town contracts.

The Town's computer system has multiple users with administrative rights.

The Board did not develop formal policies and procedures for adding, deleting, updating, and monitoring network user accounts.

The Town did not have workers' compensation and disability benefits insurance on file for 13 vendors who were paid $252,599.
In a nutshell, Hurley awarded contracts to firms the board likes (without putting these contracts out to bid), and there were no written agreements clearly delineating the work to be done; officials spent close to $30k without even getting quotes as to the price for the wanted service; and the town's computer security is a mess (shocking, I know).

But the part about "conflicts of interest" is a bigger kettle of fish. If you've ever been to a town meeting, you know full well that local municipalities steer business to certain firms. This could be for services related to planning board activities (engineers, for instance), or doing the town books (a preferred accounting firm), or even managing the town's IT and website.

So, here's a question. Does Bonacic's law office, for example, get all this municipal business because they're the best at what they do, or because they firm's officers are really good a schmoozing the right people?

But I'm not just picking on Bonacic -- or Hurley, for that matter -- as this kind of thing is rampant in towns throughout NY State. Does your municipality's leadership reward its pals by choosing firms that are well-connected? Might be worth looking into. There are, I'm sure, municipalities that shoot straight, but I'm guessing that there are just as many, if not more, that engage in this kind of petty corruption.

And when no one is keeping tabs, how do we know that the contractor in question isn't padding its fees and then kicking-back some of that money to the elected officials who awarded the contract? We don't unless we have good checks and balances in place.

Let's hope the state comptroller keeps this up.

1 comment:

  1. This goes back to the days of Pete Naccarato & his reign as Highway Sup't.
    He ran that department like it was his own fiefdom.
    He spent the winters in FLA while his town was under snow,
    he bought what he wanted from whom he wanted with NO oversight.
    He was indicted in that 1986 Highway sting but was the only one found " not guilty " ???
    Couldnt be because of his brother working for Congressman Fish, could it ??

    check him out,
    corruption started there in Hurley
    a time honored custom there.