Doing legwork on another project, PT stumbled on further fallout of former City Administrator Carlton McGee's financial finaglings.
You will recall that PT brought forward the information that McGee had twice been involved with the expenditure of considerable sums of the taxpayers' money without Council authorization --
- A $25,000 check to Charlotte Knight-Marshall of TKG for services in floating the recent $12.7 BANs. Though McGee later said he did not contract with TKG until the Council had approved it, to PT that seems to weasle over whether Ms. Knight-Marshall was indeed paid BEFORE THERE WAS A CONTRACT, AND BEFORE THE SERVICES WERE PERFORMED. Seeing a copy of the cancelled $25,000 check should clear that up.
- The more serious matter was putting information technology consultants to work -- without a valid contract and without a Council resolution. That is what forms the basis of today's post.
It seems the IT (information technology) consultants were terminated at the time of McGee's departure at the end of October. AND that the City was left WITHOUT THE ACCESS CODES needed for tending to the new servers, or the City's email accounts or the City's website.
This would account for the fact that nothing new seems to have been added to the website since the last week or so of October -- if no one in the City could access the site to update information.
But the more you dig, the more there seems to be to dig.
Seems likely this may be one of the cases behind the Assemblyman's request for the DCA and the Prosecutor to look into certain Plainfield matters. (Original Courier story here, and archived here.)
PT hears through the grapevine that the consultants were put to work IN SPITE OF THEIR BID PACKAGE BEING INCOMPLETE.
New Jersey's Public Bidding Law does not allow for bid packages (the required forms, insurance proofs, affidavits, fees, etc.) to be 'fixed' after the public opening of bids. Period.
Which leads to OTHER INTERESTING QUESTIONS -- WAS this a publicly bid project? WERE there other bidders? Is it true the consultant actually BEGAN WORK before a 'fixed' bid package was RESUBMITTED to the City? Is it true that payments to the tune of $129,000 were AUTHORIZED AND PAID OUT before the Council ever adopted a resolution?
Edison's Mayor Choi -- the Ledger reported this week -- is being investigated for a similar situation, though perhaps not as egregious as Plainfield's. You will note that the Edison case went to court because of another bidder's complaint. Does that make you wonder if the Plainfield contract was rigged so that there were NO OTHER BIDDERS to even complain?
PT understands there is a further amount in dispute, bringing the total to about $200,000 and that Mayor Robinson-Briggs, Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson and other involved parties got McGee on the phone in a teleconference Wednesday to iron out the issues.
Supposedly the City was given the codes to access the servers, the email accounts and the website. Was there a financial settlement agreed upon? How well-informed is the Council on these dealings?
PT also hears that the City owes a local consultant (a supporter of the Mayor's) involved in the work somewhere in the neighborhood of $42,000. This is how 'friends' get treated?
What a stew, huh?
As PT recalls, EVERY city check issued bears two signatures -- those of the financial officer AND OF THE MAYOR.
There's a reason for this. These are the two people who are ultimately on the hook for executing the financial affairs of the City.
So, a very important question in this matter is, What did the Mayor know and when did she know it?
Either Mayor Robinson-Briggs didn't know about this affair but she should have, or she knew about it and went along with these actions.
Taxpayers should be eager to know.
-- Dan Damon
View today's CLIPPINGS here. Not getting your own CLIPPINGS email daily? Click here to get started.