"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The tribal 30-year automatic-renewal contract system in Delaware County, NY

I wrote in this blog previously about public documents I received from the NYS Comptroller's office pertaining to its audit of Delaware County and its no-bid contracts.

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".
That's why contracts are automatically renewed based on County's "history with that vendor".


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.



No comments:

Post a Comment