Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blogger and School Board Member Outs Securatex Contract With Washington Township Schools

If you ever wonder why it is important to have independent people on the school board, people who will ask hard questions and not simply rubber-stamp administration decisions, one needs only to read Diana Vice's blog this morning where she uncovers some surprising things regarding the contract the Washington Township Schools has with Securatex, a politically-connected outfit run locally by former Sheriff Jack Cottey. I post it in full:
Recent inquiries regarding Washington Township School District's exclusive and high-priced contract with Securatex are raising a few eyebrows and more than a few questions with taxpayers.

According to inside sources, Securatex has been providing security services for the school district for the the past several years even though the contract has not been re-negotiated for at least seven years.

This shocking revelation is not sitting well with taxpayers since the school district reportedly paid out $900,000 last year to the security corporation, which runs the MSD Washington Township School Police.

Based on an anonymous tip, MSDWT School Board Member Greg Wright made a public inquiry into the matter and asked to see a copy of the school's Securatex contract. The administration subsequently supplied copies of the contract to the board; however, according to Wright, the anonymous source told him that school officials did not have a copy of the contract on file and received it from the vendor after an inquiry had been made.

A copy of the contract in question has been requested via the Public Information Act and will be posted to this site upon its receipt.

Superintendent Jim Mervilde told board members that he would issue a Request for Proposal within the next 60 days, but many are questioning why this wasn't done before questions were raised.

Interestingly, the link for MSDWT's school police page has been turned off.

In addition to the allegations of poor record keeping, many are left wondering why such a high contract item was not put out for public bid over the years, including competitors of Securatex, one of which reportedly claims the security services could be contracted for much less than what the school district is currently paying. Taxpayers also raised the issue that local companies are being shut out of the competition in favor of the politically-connected Securatex.

Perhaps this is an issue that the State Board of Accounts should look into.

When asked about the fact that the security contract was not put out for public bid, taxpayers were reportedly told that school officials had a good relationship with Securatex management.

Well, pardon me, but this is the people's money, and they should be getting the best bang for their buck, not enriching friends and business associates of school bosses. All Indiana security corporations should be considered when contracts of this magnitude are negotiated.

What is known about Securatex? According to information received from the Secretary of State website, it is a for-profit foreign corporation based in Illinois. The
Business Service Advisor listed for Securatex is former Marion County Sheriff Jack Cottey.

As a side note, here is a link to March, 2007 Advisory Minutes for the Marion County Community Corrections Department, which reports that Securatex was approved for a multi-million dollar contract for the department even though it was not the low bidder. More than one of the board members listed have been linked to a corruption investigation involving Tim Durham, who has also reportedly hired the firm to provide security for lavish parties that he has hosted.

Sources say that more shocking details about this situation will be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead as members of the local media have reportedly been asking questions about the controversy.

In the meantime, I'd say Jim Mervilde and Company might have some explaining to do.
People like Washington Township School Board Member Greg Wright and Blogger Diana Vice do a great service to this community. We owe them our thanks for bringing this matter to light. My guess though is that this is not the last time we are going to hear the name "Securatex" revealed in some expose of government improprieties.


patriot paul said...

Great reporting, watchdogs. Where's out investigative Star reporters?

Cato said...

Don't worry, PatPaul, Tully is being given a list of reasons why the contract is good for us.

He'll craft the napkin notes into sentences, and you'll have the cover story as wrapper for the Marsh sale flyer.

Ooooh, pot roast, $1.99 lb.?! Get me some beef stock, butter, carrots and onions!

Tully might as well add political comment between recipe instructions.

Simmer butter, water, beef stock, oregano, lavender, fennel and black pepper for 30 minutes, taking care not to let water level fall. Vote 'yes' on Wishard referendum. Let cool. Pour mixture alongside roast and add potatoes, carrots and onions, sliced to preference. Keep guns out of parks, and roast at 275 until internal temperature reaches 160.

He could cross-market the Star with Marsh and Meijer.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Yes, applause for school board member, Greg Wright, and tireless blogger, Diana Vice.

M Theory said...

LOL Cato!

Great job Diana! I bet there is much more here than meets the eye.