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Debate Continues Between the Comptroller and Mayor About Illegal Purchases

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:22 PM EDT
What started as a spat
last week has continued to a debate this week. Comptroller Pratt, who
oversees the bills and contracts awarded for computer and telephone
services at city offices, accused Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake for
wrongly spending roughly $700,000.

The mayor's spokesman
adamantly denies claims that her offices spent thousands of dollars on
fancy new telephones, but the comptroller says she has proof. She claims
the mayor broke the law by pushing the purchases through without proper
bidding.

Records show the city paid a long-time contractor,
Digicon, more than $200,000 for 80 phones and some computer equipment to
support them. The purchase was made two days before the bidding
deadline for other companies to compete for the contract. The mayor's
office basically attached the purchase to a pre-existing technology
contract.

The comptroller says the contract specifically
prohibited the purchase of phones. She also claims the Mayor's office
later pushed through another bill for $441,000 for additional data
network and infrastructure to support those same phones.

The
mayor's office defends the expense as part of a pilot program to see if
the mayor's office could create and operate it's own phone system,
rather than rely on another company for long term services.

The
comptroller says she has been trying to work through this dispute with
the mayor, instead, she says she was offered a bribe. She claims the
mayor offered to put more money into her budget, enough to hire two new
staffers, in exchange for her support on this deal.

The city's inspector general is initiating an internal investigation. Debate Continues Between the Comptroller and Mayor About Illegal Purchases


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