Friday, December 5, 2014

LDC scandal may have a small silver lining

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 2:03 PM

For the past six months, Monroe County has been handling some administrative work for two quasi-governmental local development corporations it created: Upstate Telecommunications Corporation and Monroe Safety and Security Systems. The county took over the duties from a subcontractor after four key players in the LDC's were hit with criminal charges related to alleged bid-rigging.

The new arrangement is apparently saving the county some money. With only six months of data to consider, the calculations are "a little bit of a bouncing ball," said Robert Franklin, the county's chief financial officer, during a County Legislature committee meeting last night. But the data points to a potential annual savings of about $140,000, he said. When Democratic Minority Leader Carrie Andrews asked how the saving are being achieved, Franklin said that the answer is complicated and that he wants to respond in writing.

Earlier in the meeting, Franklin explained that the county is now billing the entities for the administrative work performed by county employees, including those in the finance, public safety, and information services departments.

The county formed UTC to provide it with information systems — including phones and computers — and to periodically refresh the technology. It formed Monroe Safety and Security Systems to take ownership of the county's emergency communications infrastructure, upgrade the system, and lease the system to the county.

Both of the LDC's had management contracts with Navitech Services Corp., which then subcontracted out for various services and purchases. But County Executive Maggie Brooks directed the LDC boards to terminate their contracts with Navitech after the company's owner, John Maggio, and one of its subcontractors, Daniel Lynch, were accused of rigging bids related to the LDC's. At the time, Brooks said that a county review turned up "irregularities," which she hasn't specified.

Also charged was Nelson Rivera, the county's former chief information technology officer, and Robert Wiesner, Brooks's husband and former director of security for the Monroe County Water Water Authority, which also contracts with M3S.

The initial charges against Wiesner were dismissed by State Supreme Court Justice Robert Noonan. But Noonan allowed the State Attorney General's Office to present one of the charges to a new grand jury, which re-indicted Wiesner.

All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty, and their cases are proceeding.

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