After adjournment of the January 19 RTBOE meeting, a member of the public remarked.; “that was quick, I wonder why”. I responded. “It’s called circling the wagons.
District costs are escalating and revenue is shrinking . Also the the board has been caught misappropriating $218,461.27 and likely another $238,177.17. Critical negotiations are underway with the teacher’s union and our lead negotiator, Joe Jackson has attended only 4 of the last 14 board meetings. The rest have conflicts of interest. The RTBOE is drawing close hoping to fend off attacks.
But last night’s meeting did have a few interesting moments:
From the Agenda:
Item 4, Section, D Finance : The district Business Administrator, James Verbist.was “authorized to purchase goods and services without bidding in amounts not to exceed $36,000 in the aggregate” as well as to “ purchase goods and service without quoting in amounts not to exceed $5,400 in the aggregate.”
Analysis:I reviewed all open purchase orders as of 6/30/2010 to put the above referenced resolution in context. There were $749,825.37 open purchase orders of which Verbist misappropriated $456,638.44 without financial oversight. Of the remaining $293,186.93, Verbist would be subject to accounting controls for only $174,723.84. Given the terms of the approved resolution, Verbist would have complete authority over $575,101.53 of $749,825.37 in purchase orders (or 77%).
Conclusion: The resolution places overwhelming control of purchasing in the hands of a district employee who also has control over cash disbursement and the district’s receiving function. The situation requires increased oversight not less.
Why does the RTBOE rely on so little accounting control while hundreds of thousands in district assets are at risk?
Regarding unsolicited email:
Apparently, a member of the public asked Business Administrator, James Verbist how he/she might stop “unsolicited” email. Since it was directed to Verbist, I can only assume the questioner’s email address has been published as a contact on district matters. Therefore I doubt that any email sent to the address can be deemed “unsolicited”.
However, Verbist took it upon himself to provide legal advice. He suggested that a request for removal from the distribution list be sent, followed by filing an harassment complaint with the police.
I’m no lawyer but I would think the content of the unwanted email has to meet some standard for harassment. Further, I understand that a police complaint does not guarantee an investigation and the complainant would be required to file formal charges with the court for legal action. Shame on you James, you have enough difficulty handling your official duties without taking on legal issues.
Regarding Board correspondence:
At the January 5th meeting, a resident asked why correspondence listed on the agenda is not read or available online. It took two weeks but Vice President Sue Salny gathered the nerve to respond. Sue commented that the correspondence in question is addressed to board members and not the public. President Mike Friedberger agreed and added that he doesn’t favor “killing more trees” With further distribution. Killing tress with digital communication? Really?
Until recently, there were two email addresses for board contact. One to contact board members directly and the other to officially contact the board through the administration office. The later contact method disappeared. Public comment is now limited to a brief 3 minutes at the beginning of board meetings.. A fortress of solitude is being built by the board that clearly isn’t of benefit to the community. But I don’t think it will stand too long. Last night, an ardent supporter of the board expressed frustration that she is unable to comment after or during discussion of an agenda item.
Like I said, “circling the wagons”.