Now a snippet of the lengthy Tully piece that is certain worth reading in full:
The three window blinds, at nearly $1,500 each, are about all the Indiana Department of Education has to show for the $1.7 million it has shelled out for some of the most high-tech video conferencing equipment available.
Well, the blinds actually aren’t all. There also are two $6,500 high-definition desktop videoconferencing units, which, as of last week, didn’t mesh with the department’s broader telecommunications system and, so, were being used as what a department employee called “a very expensive computer monitor.”
The rest of the $1.7 million worth of equipment hasn’t been delivered, largely because the new education superintendent’s team says it can’t figure out why the former superintendent’s administration bought it.
“It’s frustrating,” said David Galvin, a top aide to first-year Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. “It’s just frustrating because it seems there wasn’t a lot of thought put into the purchase. A lot of tax dollars were spent on something that we don’t know how to use, and we don’t even know if it’s needed.”Equally troubling is the conflict of interest Tully uncovered:
The purchase was finalized last summer, about three months before former Superintendent Tony Bennett lost his re-election bid. A three-page sales agreement includes dozens of pieces of high-tech equipment, software and services sold by California-based Cisco Systems, which at the time of the purchase employed Bennett’s former chief of staff.In the comments section of the Star, I saw many conservatives and Republicans trying to justify the expenditure. They should stop. Just because someone is wearing a Republican uniform doesn't mean they are above criticism for an inexcusable conflict of interest and recklessly spending the taxpayers money.
... Bennett’s office signed the contract to buy the equipment about 18 months after his one-time chief of staff, Todd Huston, took a job as an education consultant and business development manager at Cisco. Huston, now a state lawmaker representing a Fishers-based district, continued to serve as a close political and policy adviser to Bennett while working for Cisco. In a recent interview, he said he acted as a facilitator between Cisco and Bennett’s office during the deal but added that he earned no commission from it.