Myth: Vendor Overcharges To Government (Part 6)

Posted on May 24, 2013. Filed under: Journalism, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

10th in the series The Manipulators

Today’s proverbYou can’t fight city hall

Your words for the day:

  • scapegoat = one too helpless, often by reason of circumstance, to defend itself
  • witch hunt = the search for a scapegoat
  • not my job, man = the universal escape clause — unstated, but, inherent — in every assignment of responsibility

The Big Pee loves “ongoing coverage” of targeted scapegoats…   sort of a choreographed witch hunt.  Over the centuries, burnings, beheadings, public hangings, and executions by horses-going-off-in-four-directions-while-tethered-to-one’s-various-limbs have really filled the idle time of the masses.  All of that used to be free, but, in the spirit of capitalism, we now have to sit through silly and obnoxious ads from t.v. sponsors, subscribe to an internet service, or buy a newspaper to get our constitutional entitlement to blood and gore.  We are no longer unwitting witnesses to the grand processions of TIME and LIFE (Reality!   …not the magazines); we are now paying customers who are just here for the show.

Public officials are often targeted by The Big P (pronounced “pee”) when it is out to sell papers and such.  For that reason, I am surprised that our featured Jack-Haas missed his shot at Houston’s top executive, Mayor Annise Parker.  Ostensibly, all of the principals involved in those undocumented payouts of $19.2 million of taxpayer money are under her leadership.  And, since elections are only 2 years apart for that office, there has to be some interest by the public or the political opposition in such perception of top-level mismanagement.

Yes, Jack DID mention the mayor, or at least her office.  I paraphrase:  “According to the Mayor’s Press Secretary, that office is doing a separate review to be compared to the one being done by Dangerous Dave; and, the Mayor’s office will be diligent in working to recover any money owed the city, including litigation fees.”  In other words, the Mayor’s office is happy to join in the witch hunt for a cut of the booty.  Like a real Haas, Jack pursued no further, since that announcement from such a high office bolstered his tried-and-true theme, “Government…   victim!   Vendor…   villain!”

So, Mayor…  (Mayor-ess?  Your honor-ess?) Annise Parker, I was just wondering:

  1. Does the city’s accounting department perform a monthly closing of its books like real businesses?  Such as this would catch any variances or deviations at the time of occurrence and get them corrected for future invoicing and payments.  That’s what a real business would do.
  2. Does the city’s accounting department do a quarterly summary of its bookkeeping like real businesses do?  Ditto the benefit.
  3. Does the city’s accounting department do an annual report of all accounting functions detailing variances between documentation and money spent…   as real businesses do? 
  4. Real businesses have an outside auditor come in and verify their figures and on-going accounting practices — ANNUALLY.  Is Dangerous Dave, the self-serving bureaucrat who apparently gets motivated only once every 4 or 5 years, all you’ve got to rely on?
  5. Does the term “reconciling accounts” mean anything to the city’s bookkeepers and accountants?
  6. Does the city provide free coffee and donuts to all of its gold-bricking employees, who are being paid by the taxpayers to loiter?
  7. Are there any plans to have each city office submit requisitions for supplies to a central office where they are consolidated into a single order for maximum discount AND CONTROL?
  8. Are there any plans to have those who receive the materials actually document its receipt and identify it with the appropriate accounting numbers so it can be referenced when balancing the books…   and be available at the end of the year (or every 4 or 5 years) for Dangerous Dave the Auditor to review and criticize?
  9. The State of Texas has 266,874 square miles while the City of Houston has only 627 square miles.  With its thousands of offices statewide, Texas could easily run up 300,000 purchase transaction over a span of 4 years and 10 months (that of the Office Depot contract).  It is inconceivable that a piddling little 627 square mile bailiwick could rack up 1,100 purchases EVERY WEEK for 4-plus YEARS for miscellaneous office expendables (Dave’s figures, not mine) while taxpayer-subsidized supervisors notice absolutely nothing amiss.
  10. City employees have abused the spirit of the US Communities co-op purchasing contract by run-a-way impulse-ordering.  Will you be criticizing or rebuking those city employees who, instead of sharpening that dull pencil, opt instead to pick up the phone and order 1 box of mechanical pencils for ASAP delivery one thousand times a week?

Anyway, the journalistic Jack-Haas of the Houston Chronicle story missed all that stuff I have cited.  Why?  ‘cawz it was easier for him to meet his column quota by copying everything the important-sounding City Auditor told him and presenting all of that to a pre-conditioned, anti big-business, audience.  Taking the time to actually verify the basis of the “official” allegations would have been…   WORK.

And the General Public, that massive brain-dead jury pool so loved by litigators, receives its daily dose of anesthetics to numb that vaunted hallmark of humanity — those pesky reasoning abilities.

Next up:  A break from “The Manipulators”

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Myth: Vendor Overcharges To Government (Part 4)

Posted on May 2, 2013. Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

8th in the series The Manipulators

Today’s proverbLet George Do It

Your words for the day:

  • crowd = three (as in “two’s a couple, three’s a crowd); or, one too many cooks in the kitchen
  • facilitator = a catalyst in the social not chemical sense; or, one too many cooks in the kitchen
  • not my job, man = the universal escape clause — unstated, but inherent — in every assignment of responsibility

The City Auditor (Dangerous Dave) said:

  • …contract pricing did not accompany the invoices,
  • …(and, yet) he also said that product prices were switched from one list to another list…   even though he said that there were no lists to reference.
  • …”US Communities contract” — intoned as though it were a supernatural incantation that should bring good fiscal luck to the intoner.

According to Dangerous Dave, there were no price lists associated with the invoices, yet, somehow, Dave asserts that prices were floated between these phantom lists to get a higher price for the vendor.  If one’s knowledge base is ignorance, how can one’s conclusion be so assertive?

US Communities.  Who are those guys, anyway?  http://www.uscommunities.org  (Look ’em up yourselves for enlightenment)

What I got out of their online advertising was:

  • …they got nothing to do with government.  Their “dot category” is “org” not “gov.”  They claim to be non-profit, but they take a cut of the gate.
  • …their schtick is to get a lot of organizations (private and government) to sign on as customers (membership) of a single “contract” to be serviced by a single contractor, purportedly to get cheaper everything with minimal bureaucrat effort.
  • …the attraction for the membership is to get product a lower price — with minimal bureaucrat effort.
  • …the attraction for the seller would be a large guaranteed customer base which would more than make up for selling at a lower price (the assumption being that large quantities will, in fact, be ordered.)  Win-win for everybody.

And, if they are NON-profit, what is in it for the “dot.org?”

Why, PROFIT…   of course!  Say, a 1% to 2.5% administrative fee, payable by the seller.  It didn’t say “percent of what,” so I’ll go with a cut of the seller’s take.  With the City of Houston thing, 1% of $19.2 million = $192,000; jump that to $480,000 at the 2.5% rate.  Sweet deal, eh?  Is that tax-free ’cause they are non-profit?

What do they actually do for that fee?  They write-up a form contract that says, in essence…   (in case I’m too subtle here, this is the part where I cynically paraphrase my understanding of all this)

  • “I, the party of the First Part (insert name of vendor here) agree to SELL enormous amounts of post-its, pens, pencils, staples and all kinds of paper and other expendables to buyers signed up on US Communities membership list (insert control number of list), which is attached to this contract, at the cheaper bulk rate prices I offer to all my big-order customers all the time, even without a rinky-dink contract.”
  • “I, the party of the Second Part (insert name of buyer — or a whole list of ’em) agree to BUY from (insert name of vendor again) enormous amounts of post-its, pens, pencils, staples and all kinds of paper and other expendables and pay according to the attached price lists (insert price list control number) which I understand is cheaper than buying from the same vendor in little bitty quantities.  I also understand that NONE OF THE EMPLOYEES in our accounting department, PAID BY THE TAX PAYERS TO KEEP TRACK OF TAX MONEY, WILL HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to monitor either the uncontrolled ordering by hundreds of individuals in scads of departments or to cross-check vendor invoices against our understanding of the contract and get all incorrect invoices clarified BEFORE we pay them.  Further, all that those employees need to do henceforth is show up at the office, enjoy coffee and donuts all day, clock out for the evening, and collect a tax-subsidized paycheck for doing nothing.  Free coffee and donuts would be real nice.”
  • “We, the party of the Third Part, US Communities, will (1) match up our standard prepared price lists (which we got from the stated vendor, JUST LIKE THE GOVERNMENT ENTITY COULD HAVE DONE ON-LINE OR BY USING THE TELEPHONE) to the appropriate contract, (2) insert the names of the Buyer and the Seller, and, voila, our contribution to this “Market Place Meeting of Interests” is done…   although, (3) we will diligently listen for future “ka-chings” and check our monthly up-date from the bank of our choice.  Oh, and (4) we might monitor all that stuff we told you about to get you signed up.

This “co-op” thing sounds to me more like a dating service type of operation.  “We are just a facilitator.  We found your match, but marriage relations are up to you two.  Sign on the dotted line, and we are outta here.  Should anything go wrong — or simply not go right — we ain’t got nuthin’ to do with that!  You are on your own.”  US Communities then exits stage left.

Next up:  Myth (Part 5) George didn’t do it.

 

 

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The Hot Button Offense

Posted on August 11, 2012. Filed under: KBR, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

13th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

Your words for the day:

  • hot button issue = an issue that elicits strong emotional reactions; a social, economic, theological, spiritual, scientific or legal issue which has become a political issue as a result of deliberate action or otherwise (Wikipedia)
  • hot buttons = subjects about which we have already made up our minds.  At their mention, we cannot get to the hat check counter quickly enough to turn in our abilities to reason…   and, you don’t even get a claim ticket.  (TheDean01)

Over the past couple of decades, a number of business and political “scandals” have hit the media headlines.  From that, quite a number of issues have been investigated, aired, and judged, and terms concomitant to that publicity have become media and litigation staples: corporate greed, file shredding , missing files, voter fraud, poor business practices, cover up, negligence, disregard for public and/or employee well-being, insider sources, whistle-blower, misappropriation of funds, etc.  Litigators, in pursuit of the M-O-N-E-Y from targeted C-A-S-H-C-O-W-S, seize upon the “button of the day”  and hammer on issues calculated to elicit negative reactions from the sitting jury toward the alleged “monster” being sued.  Pertinence to the suit is not important; whether the hot issue engenders a negative response toward the defendant IS of utmost importance.

Raiznor is no different.  We have already explored how convenient it would be if the alleged injuries to his client (clients?) were not associated with that infernal “designated combat zone,” and how he is attempting to focus the alleged cause of those alleged injuries onto alleged corporate mis-management apart from that war zone.  But, Raiznor has gone one step further in his argument:  during one of his recurring intermezzos in the video, he sings, “…this no-bid deal, negotiated in a shockingly, casual way by KBR with our government…”   In essence, Raiznor is saying that KBR’s alleged negligence and alleged disregard for human life were sanctioned, if not abetted, by the US of A.

Raiznor seemingly employs just about every hot-button coined in the last 100 years.  The following is not a complete list, but, will serve as a rough outline of the topics under discussion.  Raiznor may not have said some of these, but, they are there, none-the-less, for you to deduce for yourselves:

  • From popular knowledge:  taxpayer money;  no bid;  quickie deals.
  • Earlier business scandals:  missing and critical files, cover up
  • Back room political schemes:  hasty, free-wheeling ‘n’ dealing negotiations
  • Disregard for public safety:  greed, profit motive, reckless business practices
  • Whistle blowing:  two fame-seekers “did” (allegedly, but not really)
  • Dead client:  show-and-tell for fatal business recklessness.  (i.e., tabloid-like tear-jerker ending, just in case Raiznor’s load of crap just doesn’t quite smell right)

As I concluded earlier, Raiznor’s venture into yellow journalism IS NOT for judicial consumption;  IT IS STRICTLY AN ATTEMPT TO NEGATIVELY PREJUDICE THE POTENTIAL JURY POOL’S PERCEPTION OF KBR.  None of the stuff presented in this on-line format would stand up in a court-room setting under rules of evidence admissibility and cross-examination.  Which also means that Raiznor doesn’t even have to bring it to court-room scrutiny.  When the jury is selected, the work of his unethical opus will have already been done.  Even after a trial starts, do you actually believe that jury members NEVER rush home in the evening to surf the internet for “fill-in” on what they encountered in court testimony?  Or discuss the case with friends and family who did?  Raiznor’s smear will still be posted for their forbidden browsing and discussions.

The best way to expose this deceit is to turn Super Dan’s O-P-U-S into alphabet S-O-U-P and examine it letter by letter.

Next up:  Urban lore – taxpayer money and such

Reference:  Mary L. Wade, KBR, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, Qarmat Ali, litigator

 

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