Monday, December 19, 2011

Sun block working well in Montgomery County

  • I know we just visited this topic, but this is such an important issue I don’t think dedicating at least a few columns to it is going too far afield.
  • For those of you new to the area, or for those of you who have been sitting in the dark for the past several weeks, I’ll give you a little back story.
  • The Grand Jury investigating the goings on in county government just came back with a 69 page report. And while it was loaded with incidents the jury found to be appalling, none of it rose to the level of criminal charges, sanctions, fines or even a slap on the wrist, except of course for the not so minor detail of one of the county commissioners allegedly lying about his association with a company doing business with the county.
  • But just to make sure we’re on the same page here, we need to go back to 2010 to talk about why the Grand Jury was looking into the county government in the first place.
  • Early in that year one of my reporters heard from a friend, who has a friend who knows a guy, about two of our three county commissioners meeting at a local restaurant on the Tuesday before every commissioners meeting.
  • So, in the spirit of All the Presidents Men, said reporter heads over to the restaurant and grabs a nearby booth.
  • Sure enough, the conversation being overheard was loaded with governmental jargon.
  • It didn’t take much for the reporter to call the third commissioner, the one not invited to early morning coffee klatch, and ask if indeed some of the things she was hearing were being discussed at the official meeting the next day.
  • Not only were they being discussed the third commissioner confirmed, but the other two often seemed ready to vote on items that had hardly been discussed in public at all.
  • Well before all of this took place, another reporter was peppering one of the commissioners with questions about his connection with a consulting firm that was also a major contributor to his campaign, but that’s for another column. There’s also no real reason to keep telling you who the major players are in this space because I really want everyone to pay attention to exactly where the light should be shining, which is on the regularly scheduled meetings two of our three elected county commissioners readily admit to taking part in.
  • Just as a refresher, remember, there are no Sunshine law fines being levied.
  • Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Matthews Arrested - Part I

    I'm still not finished with the 69-page Grand Jury report on the fall of Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews, but I just had to stop and write this post. I really appreciate the way the report is written. In the report are words like stunned, unbelievable, and a cadre of others to describe their take on the shennanigans taking place in our county government. Here's just a couple to get you started on. I'm sure there will be several posts to follow, but thought we should get the conversation going with a couple of particularly good nuggets.
    First, the CBIZ contract. We believe it was pay to play all along, and still do, and yet our state laws are written in such a way that even the Grand Jury couldn't come up with charges. CBIZ is the consultant for the county's healthcare services. They were awarded a no-bid contract, and subsequently deposited more than $20K into Matthews campaign coffers. But that's not all. G. Fred DiBona sat on the committee that was formed to oversee the applicants for the contract, which was awarded to Blue Cross/Blue Shield. DiBona's father was the former CEO of Blue Cross.
    And the second one I'll throw out today is the county's head of Human Resources, Eleanor Schneider, who was promoted to the position by Matthews. Schneider, as we pointed out on several occasions, was Matthews secretary and not even remotely qualified to be director of Human Resources. The Grand Jury apparently believes the same, "We find that she is not qualified for a position of such importance."
    Stay tuned. I'll dig into it some more soon.