Monday, October 12, 2009

I aint' goin to rehab

no no no!!!

Inspector general says he won't meddle in awarding contracts

Nagin labeled that idea "inappropriate" and pledged to resist any "front-end" effort by the inspector general to "influence the decision-making process" when it comes to awarding contracts.

"Look, he can do what he wants to do, " Nagin said in a radio interview last month. "But I'm going to use the authority of the mayor that's there. And he's not going to . . . not on my watch. That's not going to happen."

His first notion is correct, the IG can do what he wants. Legally, Nagin can't stop him, or for that matter...any citizen...from examining the RFP's and the bidding process. Unless of course he illegally blocks access to public record which has been his MO from the beginning.

Welcome to good government, Ray. Its a bitch ain't it?


Anonymous said...

Most places require a vote by the City Council prior to execution of a contract over a certain amount. At the very least that would provide an open forum for citizens to discuss the contract. Most times the selection has already been made by that point, which would not usurp the power of the mayor.

The only downside is that you will need to have a City Council strong enough to shut yahoos up that haven't read the contract, or are just there to stir shit. Without that, descent citizens with legitiment concerns will get frustrated.

The City Council could do this without any changes to the process it all. Just make it a non-binding part of the process. Hold a meeting once a month to review contracts, ask the vendors to participate. If the administration and the vendor chose to boycot then issue a press release. I bet most vendors would participate, and eventually (maybe the next mayor) the administration would participate. Have the IGs office show up during that meeting to discuss any issues they uncovered.

Whirlygurl said...

Anon, has some good points. The IG adds another layer of bureaucracy to an already encumbered process. Elect honest people and the process works.

Ok since that won't work, let me tell you my real concern is about the IG office......say you are the mayor, and you are going through a bidding process, your IG comes to visit and says, Mr Mayor, I really like the Ajax company that Mr Roadrunner runs. If he gets the contract, then I will forget that I found some other descrepcincies that I need to investigate before your next election. There is really nothing, but an investigation is a death nail in MOST cities. Not saying New Orleans necessarily.

I believe in the three branches of government, administrative - Mayor, Legislative - Council, and Judicial - Courts. The IG gives me the creeps because it floats out there in the strastophere somewhere near the SS.

Jason Brad Berry said...

No its not even close to SS. It doesn't have the power to stop a just reports on it. There's a big difference and you're overextending the power the IG actually has.

Look...for the past eight years we've had an administration that refused to answer simple public records requests like "What is your schedule?"

We have a very broken government and this office is a good way to get it back on track. Now 4 to 8 years from now...maybe we won't need an IG, but right now we need any help we can get to straighten out the crapola.

I hope the IG works his office out of a job, personally, but to say that our city government doesn't need oversight and regulation right now is like saying Wall Street doesn't need oversight and regulation.

mominem said...

The public pronouncements of the IG are not mutually exclusive.

He can monitor comment but not affect the Mayor's prerogatives.

anyway by the time any effective review gets up and running the door would have hit Ray's ass on the wasy out!

mominem said...

New Orleans has an extreme form of a Strong Mayor system.

The mayor is close to a classic Roman dictator, needing only minimal approval by the Council.

Charter changes targeted at reducing the Mayor's autonomy and including the nominal "legislative beanch"i decision making would be a start.

mominem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Whirlygurl, the IG is effectively part of the Council in much the same way that the Congressional Budget Office works for the legislative branch at the federal level.

In both cases, full-time and professionally trained staff are needed to weed through complex contracts, particularly when multiple layers of subcontract LLC's (often of dubious credibility) are involved - a contract approach much favored by the current and previous administration.

In both cases, neither the IG nor the CBO has any more authority than what you or I have, namely, to request and report on public records. They just have the time and training to do so.

Anonymous said...

Every system is corruptible.

The IG's office is a good idea for now. I wish them luck, and I'm with you, Dambala, I hope they work themselves out of their jobs.

But no matter what fix they try to put in place, if the people involved are not people with a real empathy for others and a sense of personal responsibility and of right and wrong, they will be able to throw a wrench into the machine and grind things right down again.

Anonymous said...

@Whirlygurl - as already noted, the IG's office has no stormtrooper-esque power, they simply report to the CC. thats a Good Thing (tm).

re: complicated contracts and subs-vendors. actually, its not nearly as complicated as you think. the city does not sign any contracts or agreements with subcontractors. rather - the city defines a project, sets a price to it, and finds a winning vendor who will charge that price for the deliverable. thats it.

the subs are private agreements between one company and another company. the city doesnt oversee or approve these since its a private commercial decision, its outside a city's scope to do so.

its like your drywallers -- you find a guy you like, negot a price, and schedule the work. but who shows up at your door? hispanic workers. these are his sub-contractors, and theres nothing sinister about that. they work for less than what hes charging you, since the your price is the ultimate price. thus he farms it out to somebody willing to work for less than what youre paying, and he profits there. do you challenge that he subbed it? not if your agreement w/ him didnt bar subs.

checks are still in place -- if the subs suck, his reputation as the prime goes down with them. no more future business. and often the contracts the prime has with the sub(s) mirror what the prime has with the customer (city).

this happens in the trades all the time. and in every construction contract. (see the recent nola story on the Boh Bros construction company busting one of their dirty subs!)

its not evil. its american.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, last anon,

and if the Hispanic construction workers are illegals and some of them get screwed out of their pay...

if the drywall is poisoned and from China...

if the firms that bid on the initial contract consisted at least in part of family members of the City administration...

if at every step along the way somebody skimmed off their 1%, or kicked that back to someone...

if, if, if, somehow some Rabbi in Jersey connected to all of this ended up selling a kidney at a 120% profit...

That's the good ol' U.S. of A.

Anonymous said...

huh? your words are gibberish. the analogy was on the service being provided, not the particulars of drywalling.

family members being related to the city also has nothing to do w/ the debunking of someone's statement that things "get complicated with all the subs" or whatever.

as for each layer of vendor "skimming", thats completely the wrong way to think about it. the city bids the project at *one price*. its price; the price it believes is fair for the work. that a winning vendor can then find somebody else willing to do it for less doesnt change that. it doesnt change that the city is paying what it believes is a fair price.

what it does do is create more jobs.

seriously, your argument against "skimming" is like somebody complaining that a retail outlet (Target) charges more for the products than the middle-men it bought them from, who paid more than the factory workers who made them were paid. uhh...yeah, thats how they make money.

same thing with services. do you cry fowl at your general contractor?