Thursday, November 30, 2006

Karen the new boss, same as the old boss

Anonymous said...
can you please follow up the 18 wheeler ken carter comment in the trailer on your blog?!?! inquiring minds want to know...

This question came in, in reference to the the trailer on the new documentary film to be released next week on the New Orleans Public School System:

Sandra's reference in the trailer was non-specific. She was making comments about multiple politicians involved in the manipulation of the school system budget, the largest in the state before Katrina. The NOPS budget was at about a half billion annually and NOPS was the largest employer in the city.

However, Karen Carter's actions with the school system are addressed in the documentary along with Bill Jefferson. In specific, Carter was largely responsible for Superintendent Amato's termination from the school system.

Within months of having proposed and successfully pushed through Act 193, which essentially gave Amato authoritarian control over all the contracts in the School System as well as the hiring and firing of employees, Carter flip-flopped on the Act. She showed up at a School Board meeting along with Sen. Ann Duplessis and called for Amato's termination citing incompetence and a mistake in judgement on her part for proposing 193 in the first place.

Why the sudden change of heart? Amato was insistent on turning over a multi-million dollar emergency accounting contract to national accounting firm, Deloitte and Touche. Carter was intent on the contract being given to local minority accounting firm, Bruno and Tervalon.

In the board meeting she stated that it is insulting to suggest that local firms aren't competent enough to handle the school system's budget.

This was a vieled use of the race card....she was suggesting that Amato's decision not to use Bruno and Tervalon was perhaps driven by racial bias. It was most certainly not.

Amato's reticence to use Bruno and Tervalon was completely justified.

In 1996 William Garibaldi, the then Cheif Auditor for NOPS, reported to then Superintendent Holmes that he had
uncovered a gross error in reporting hosptilization and insurance claims to the Federal Government. I spoke with Bill on the phone about a year ago and he told me verbally that he originally suspected the claims to be inflated to about 4 million dollars. Upon receiving the news from Garibaldi, Holmes told him he would check into it with one of their contracted accounting firms responsible for the reports, Bruno and Tervalon.

Holmes later came back to Garibaldi, told him there was no problem and then proceeded to fire him.

Garibaldi then filed suit against the school system, which led to an external audit by the U.S. Education Department's Inspector General. They not only verified Garibaldi's findings, they estimated the claims to be inflated much higher than what Garibaldi had originally thought.

Bill told me it could have been as much as 12 to 14 million.

The Fed also reported that they knew Bruno and Tervalon was aware that the claims were inflated and was at least partially respsonsible for the fraud. They then barred Bruno and Tervalon from doing any federal business for five years and suggested the school system do the same. B & T's contract was terminated with NOPS.

Flash forward to 2002. The five year penalty is up and guess who slips back into the school system? None other than Bruno & Tervalon.

Can you understand Amato's reticence to dole out a multi-million dollar contract to this firm, or for that matter any local firms?

Amato fell from grace immediately after he began to gut the fatted cow, which was the NOPS budget.

There were too many politically connected companies feeding on the teet. Companies which make major campaign contributions to politicians.

The documentary exposes this process. I hope you can make it Tuesday or Wednesday to check it out.

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