In the previous blog, the interview of Supervisor Miller revealed certain specific improprieties in contracts: specifically, that a contract with the coroner was at inflated prices because the coroner was Mr. Eisel's (Board Chairman's) friend, and improprieties regarding contracts about the Treadwell school buildings, for the same reason, because the dealings were with Mr. Eisel's friends.
I did not see anything in the records of audit provided to me by the NYS Comptroller's office indicating that the NYS Comptroller continued its investigation into that direction, but I saw claims that "no abuse or fraud were found" in other departments, after a statement that contracts were not bid to the public, as they were supposed to.
I continue to post public records provided to me by the NYS Comptroller's office.
Here is the report of the interview from the Department for the aging.
So, "the department has many contracts with various agencies in the area". Yet, there is no disclosure, what kind of "agencies" exist in the area that have contracts with Delaware County, while Supervisor Miller already disclosed in her interview how contracts are being done - through friendship with Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Eisel.
By the way, I did not see anywhere in the report that disclosures by Mr. Eisel were made about contracting the County business to his friends.
The next thing is the lack of bidding.
The explanation is hilarious - yet somehow swallowed by the NYS Comptroller's office.
The declared reasons for not bidding contracts publicly and for striking deals for those contracts with friends behind closed doors at inflated prices, are as follows:
- Delaware County's large size;
- Smallness of population;
- Lack of economic resources;
- County feels fortunate to find (how?) one vendor "within a reasonable geographic distance".
The County supervisors obviously do not get through their heads that the "small population" and the "lack of economic resources" adds up to a "small population OF not-so-wealthy TAXPAYERS" requiring the County to engage in efforts to save every penny wherever possible, and the only mechanism to do that is through public bidding of contracts.
The interview reflects that Delaware County did not bid out contracts FOR 30 YEARS.
That means that public contracts were bid before - apparently, before the largest contractor of Delaware County, the Delaware Opportunities, Inc. was established, where supervisors participate as board members (and likely get favors from subcontractors of services).
So, while economists say that competition is good for lowering prices and diversifying services, Delaware County says that a 30-year monopoly of one vendor per type of contract is good for Delaware County taxpayers - because there are not a lot of them and because they are poor.
In fact, because there are not a lot of taxpayers and because they are poor, Delaware County hopes that taxpayers will not have enough clout to sue the County and its supervisors for fraud and abuse that NYS Comptroller's auditors may have been paid not to find - otherwise they could not, in good faith, find "no fraud and abuse" without even pursuing the leads given in those same interviews.
We are not talking pennies here.
We are talking millions of dollars in contracts which are habitually, over the period of 30 years, being awarded to the same vendors, without bidding, in a county with "small population" that "lacks economic resources"!
"Budgeted appropriations" in 2014 alone were 129 million dollars and none of them - none! - were bid to the public!
I bet that the County could get a lot more services for that budget had it bid those appropriations out.
Maybe, then, the County government would have found out that over 30 years things change, new people are born and grow into adulthood or come into the area who can provide new services, new technologies develop, and it is not appropriate to automatically renew contracts given 30 years ago to the same bidder, obviously based on some "friendly" connections to officials within the Delaware County government.
I lived in Delaware County for 17 years.
My husband lived in Delaware County for over 40 years.
Both of us practiced law in the county for a long time, my husband longer than me, and through bits and pieces, through statements of clients, friends and acquaintances and through occasional documents provided in discovery in court cases, we came to the conclusion long time ago that Delaware County government is not a democratic entity - it is a tribal entity.
Relatives and friends are hired throughout the County, the County does not have an anti-nepotism policy, and I am sure that the no-bid contracting system is as tribal as the County employment policies.
If you ask that question directly under FOIL - to list all relatives and friends working in the County, you will not get any information, because such information is not "FOIL-able".
I guess, legislation should be changed to change that. Because that information directly pertains to issues of public concern, to corruption and waste of taxpayer funds through 30-year no-bid automatically renewed contracts awarding taxpayer money - your money - to the select members of the tribe.
By the way, Delaware County still stalls me and refuses to show me those "automatically renewable" contracts.
I urge Delaware County taxpayers to demand disclosure of the names of the vendors and to publish those renewable contracts on the County website - and to announce public bidding.
The interesting question, to me, is - why NYS Comptroller did not expand its audit into the 30-year period and why it did not publish the names of the vendors?
Because of "scarce economic resources" of his office, or because his office was properly "motivated" by Delaware County?
No wonder New York is losing people to other states... The level of corruption is simply disgusting.