WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S USUALLY FIRE
The Polk County Opportunity Council has been noted in this blog several times recently for their various controversies. Refusing to seat the City of Bartow's duly appointed representative to it's Board of Directors, leasing a $16,000+ printer/fax/copier under a no-bid contact from Canon, who then sent the community action agency's Executive Director to Las Vegas for a "training workshop" (although chances are she'll never do any major work with/on it).
Seems PCOC likes the idea of no-bid contracts, as the Lakeland Ledger reports this morning that they awarded three other such agreements over the past couple of years...although it is against their own bylaws as well as likely against federal bidding regulations. As a result of the litany of complaints, including from Congressman Adam Putnam (R - Bartow), the federal Administration for Children and Families plans an investigation.
Apparantly PCOC hired the Lutz-based human relations firm of David Myers & Associates to write an application for a new charter school, and about the same time (November, 2003) signed another no-bid deal with Diversity Advertising of Tampa to do PR work for the agency. Yet another no-bid contact was signed last year with Brandon human resources consultant Mac McDowell to conduct an employee pay study. The four no-bid deals, including the one with Canon, total approximately $44,080
The thing about all this is, that PCOC's own bylaws mandate at least two, and preferably three, competitive bids for services over $500. And the White House's own love of no-bid contacts (read: Halliburton) notwithstanding, federal regulations for community action agencies similarly require competitive bidding in the vast majority of cases.
As many of you may realize, I'm certainly no fan of Adam Putnam. Often, he's simply a message boy for the Bush Administration, ready to jump when commanded from Karl Rove and his boys at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But this time he's on the mark in requesting a look at PCOC, and let the chips fall where they may. If there is wrongdoing of any kind, then those who are guilty and those who support the wrongdoers should be excised.
BTW: The Ledger also reported this morning that the Bartow City Commissioners are continuing to support their appointed representative to the PCOC Board, Dave Hallock. PCOC board members don't like Mr. Hallock because they claim that he has said nothing but negative things about the agency. As I've said from the beginning, I don't know Mr. Hallock, but according to the information I have read he has served on several boards that deal with children's and educational issues, and he would be an excellent fit for PCOC, which oversees the area's Head Start program in Polk and Highlands Counties. There is something terribly wrong when an organization simply wants a person who is willing to serve as a rubber stamp and not ask serious questions that sometimes need to be asked...or that the leadership in place don't want answered.