"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

More Waste, Fraud And Abuse Of Taxpayer Dollars

Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper issued a scathing report yesterday on New Jersey’s School Construction Corp (SCC), calling for extensive reforms in the state program. Cooper's review found "lax and/or non-existent oversight" that left the SCC, headed by CEO, Jack Spencer, "vulnerable to mismanagement, fiscal malfeasance, conflicts of interest and waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars."

Cooper's two-month review began after The Star-Ledger reported that schools built by the School Construction Corp (SCC) cost 45 percent more than locally managed school projects. The SCC has already blown through most of the budgeted $8.6 billion for the program and had requested $6 billion more to complete court-ordered repair and construction of new schools – primarily in the Abbott districts.

Cooper's preliminary report listed $115 million in specific questionable expenditures and challenged the rationale for hundreds of millions of dollars more. The report laid out 10 specific recommendations for shoring up the school-building program, including hiring a chief financial officer, retooling its land-acquisition program and scaling back the role of 13 private project management firms that are scheduled to collect $462.5 million from the SCC.

The inspector general also recommended eliminating $227,000 in bonuses paid to SCC employees in 2003 and 2004 and reviewing the need for three SCC regional offices. Bonuses, can you imagine they paid these people bonuses? How does Jack Spencer keep his job as Chief Executive Officer of the School Construction Corporation? There is never any penality for government employees that are incompetent. Opps, we wasted $ billions, we'll just tax you for $ billions more - you can afford it.

Republican lawmakers continue to press for more aggressive action by the state:

"There's going to have to be some consequences for some of the mismanagement that occurred these last few years," said Assemblyman Kevin O'Toole (R-Passaic), who asked Attorney General Peter Harvey to consider a criminal probe into the corporation's dealings. "The report calls out as to whether this conduct or malfeasance rises to the level of criminal activity."

Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) called for public hearings with Senate subpoenas to compel testimony and documents. "The preliminary report contains evidence of gross waste and mismanagement that is so excessive and widespread as to require an immediate response from the Legislature."
We never seem to learn from these financial disasters. Yet, we have Codey wanting to get the tax payers futher involved in the entertainment business – the New York Giants and Corzine is calling for the state to "invest" in a whole host of risky start-up businesses. The state can't manage government responsibilities, we don't think Trenton needs to move into state owned businesses. We can't afford any more of their money losing "investments."

Remember the expression from last year's election - if it's not close, they can't cheat? Well, here's a suggestion for this year – if you don't give them the tax money, they can't waste or steal it.



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