Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You just have to know what keys to poke.

Ms. Miller provided the Board with information on a recent public records request related to a lease agreement with Seattle Piano Gallery in 2005. She outlined the work with legal counsel to formulate the lease agreement with the vendor, the payment schedule, resale outcomes, an erroneous purchase order, and the company filing for bankruptcy. It was confirmed that the end result of payment for the thirteen leased pianos was less than the list price and the 2006 quote for comparable pianos.

This passage was pulled directly from the meeting minutes approved by the Board. Of course, I have a few questions. They won't be hard, I promise.

1. How was this particular vendor selected? Did it have anything to do with the fact that he was a friend of the person making the decision to lease the pianos? The fact that they worked on some sort of jazz function together? The fact they have a connection in Rotary?

2. Just which law firm worked on developing the lease agreement? Did they know how the vendor was selected? Would they have any reason to ask? Were they involved in that selection process? Would any law firm presume that a public agency isn't aware of public bid processes?

3. What payment schedule was developed? My records (and granted they could be incomplete) show a single payment for a rather large sum and then one very small payment back to the District.

4. What resale outcomes? Since when does the District sell pianos for a profit? Or a loss for that matter? When did the District feel a need to report on the sales success or failure of private enterprise?

5. What erroneous purchase order? I never asked for copies of erroneous or legitimate purchase orders, I asked for copies of checks. The truth is in the numbers and the checks were full of them.

6. What difference does it make that the dealer of these pianos filed for bankruptcy? If the transaction was legitimate and the pianos were leased, it is just a simple matter of returning the pianos when the lease was up.

Bottom line: "It was confirmed that the end result of payment for the thirteen leased pianos was less than the list price and the 2006 quote for comparable pianos." Hint: Leasing a car for a year should always be cheaper than buying it outright, unless you plan on driving to the moon a few times in the next 12 months. After 12 months of leasing, you have no pianos. After 12 months of ownership, you have one-year-old pianos.

How was the Seattle Piano Gallery selected? If you are going to scam the tax-paying public, why not take the extra effort to go out to bid and then disqualify every vendor you didn't like? Maybe you can afford to skip this critical step because you know the Board will never ask any questions.

Editorial: I am flattered that the contents of this blog are being discussed at Board meetings. I am just disappointed that no one understands public processes.

No comments: