Courtesy of my good friends at wnymedia.net. Way back on December 8th, you may recall, the Erie County Legislature supposedly adopted a new budget, which included a penny sales tax increase. Although the budget was passed, the penny (as we all know) was defeated. During that late-night session, an amendment to the budget was introduced quite literally at the last minute. That amendment added $3,000,000 to the budget to pay Community Based Corrections - a Louisiana company - to come and administer low-risk county prisoners. The company had apparently given a presentation in Buffalo regarding the work it does and the fact that it could save the county some money. What's wrong with that? We're not supposed to hire private companies to do county work without putting the job up for competitive bids. It's one of those pesky anti-corruption things. Corruption. Caught on tape.
Almost two months ago, WNYmedia.net brought you the Story of Amendment Package "E". Today, Nancy Naples challenged this part of the Budget process in court because she claims that it was done without putting it out for Bid. This afternoon, Chairman George Holt, Jr. and Legislator Chuck Swanick met behind closed doors to discuss something that they failed to share with the rest of the legislators. WB 49 caught the two red handed. However, they were off the mark as too why they were meeting. It was to discuss today's press conference in which chairman Holt is going to have to answer questions regarding this illegal budget amendment. "“It claims to save $16 million to the county which we already know is not true because that is the entire prison budget for the county." said Nancy Naples. "We feel it is an illegal approriation of taxpayer dollars, circumventing the competitive bidding process" said her attorney Dennis Vacco. During the December 8th midnight budget debacle, Legislator Swanick and chairman Holt held a brief meeting under their breath before more than 10 video cameras in the chambers. Since we were previously familiar with the situation, we went to the video tape. Video technology is a wonderful thing. Through adjusting a few audio levels, we have been able to transcribe most of what the two were talking about. You've got to see this!! It's hard to understand but the conversation went something like this: Swanick: "I dont have all of them with me" Holt: "o.k." Swanick: "I will amend the package with the one that you gave me, you said we missed" Holt: "That's the one...inaudible" Swanick " I'll make it right...inaudible" Holt: "alright, will you do that please" Click here for the video Less than 5 minutes after the meeting, chairman Swanick then proposed the "amended budget Package E", which was passed and added to the budget after the fact. The company Community Based Corrections, LLC is based out of New Orleans and we are looking into what connections they might have to Western New York and Chairman George Holt, Jr. "Chairman Holt was the one that approached me with this proposal" said Sheriff Patrick Gallivan. " I never got a chance to look at it".
(I cleaned up the text a bit). Here's the information from the Louisiana Secretary of State on Community Based Corrections, LLC. The primary member of the LLC is Burnell Moliere. According to this story, Burnell Moliere has been accused of shady dealings (if not downright corruption) before. Moliere was on the board of a company called "National Contractor Services", which obtained a New Orleans city contract (totalling $500,000) to help "disadvantaged" companies obtain loans and bonds. What's interesting is that, of the $6.8 million in bonds and loans that National Contractor helped obtain for "disadvantaged" companies, 25% of that money went to companies owned by Moliere and two other members of the National Contractor Services board. Moliere helped his own AME, Inc. janitorial company get over $300,000 in bonds through his National Contractor operation. Here's a pdf file of another expose, which wonders why Moliere's company is considered "disadvantaged" when Moliere earns $500,000 per year, and is worth $3,600,000. Can I be "disadvantaged", too? Moliere was also among the investors in the Harrah's casino in New Orleans. This article explains that Moliere's AME, Inc. was not registered as a "disavantaged" business at the airport. AME was supposed to share work - 35% of it - with registered "disadvantaged" businesses, but didn't. AME was, however, registered as "disadvataged" by the city of New Orleans, despite the fact that its annual revenue topped $12 million in 2001.
AME President and Chief Executive Officer Burnell Moliere, whose company now is known as AME Services Inc., agreed to answer a handful of questions before terminating a brief telephone interview. Among the subjects he declined to address were the reasons AME failed to meet the airport's DBE participation goal from 1990 to 1998. "From our perspective, the disadvantaged program has worked for us," said Moliere, who personally earned more than $500,000 in 1998 and has a personal net worth of $3.6 million, records show. "It allowed us to get into the marketplace. It allowed us to gain valuable business experience. And now that we are no longer a disadvantaged business, we can compete nationally with anybody in our industry." The airport didn't complain about AME's failure to use DBE subcontractors until 1998, records show. The company then agreed to give 40 percent of the janitorial work to its spinoff firm, Exceptional Temporaries Inc., a former AME subsidiary.
In New Orleans, Moliere is politically well-connected. He has close ties to New Orleans' DA Eddie Jordan, for whom Moliere was campaign finance chairman. It also appears that Moliere's customers aren't exactly...happy ones. Moliere donated $500 towards the campaign of New Orleans school board member Elliot Willard:
Willard also collected a combined total of $2,000 from School Board attorneys Clare Jupiter and Trevor Bryan; $500 from Burnell Moliere, owner of AME, the school system's janitorial services contractor, which (Schools Superintendent Tony) Amato is trying to terminate for poor service; and $500 from Jim Hutchinson, a system insurance broker and former son-in-law of Willard's.
And this:
Janitorial company defends its work / Contract debated by School Board Brian Thevenot, Staff writer 12/01/2000, The Times-Picayune A.M.E. Services, the embattled janitorial and grass-cutting services contractor for New Orleans public schools, Thursday defended itself against district administrators who say the company is so incompetent that the School Board should strip the company of its $2.4 million-a-year contract. The company's statements came at a School Board committee meeting in which three members ultimately declined to take a position on the matter, instead forwarding it to the full board for debate. After a stinging presentation by Chief Administrative Officer Joe Bekeris, backed by 13 binders full of principals' complaints and other documentation, the company responded that it has performed quite well in all but a few cases, showing recent photographs of well- maintained grounds on several dozen campus. In an interview, A.M.E. president Burnell Moliere said the company has struggled to work with an administration that has, from the outset of the contract, sought to sabotage the company with trumped- up complaints so that it could take over operations itself. "This administration came into this contract with the full intent of not entering in the contract for any length of time," Moliere said. "To push that agenda, they had to make us look bad." Given the scope of the job, cleaning and landscaping nearly 130 campuses, even a large number of complaints is not out of the ordinary, Moliere said. Asked what might motivate such a campaign, Moliere replied, "Power."
Oh. And by the way. AME stands for "A Minority Entity". Subtle like a baseball bat. What, exactly, is George Holt's and/or Chuck Swanick's connection with Moliere's corrections outfit?

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