HOW YOUR MONEY IS STOLEN: New Rochelle Board of Education Set to Turn Blind Eye to Rat's Nest That is Aramark Schools

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UPDATED WITH UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO (see below)

Despite significant evidence of corruption, malfeasance and incompetence in the Buildings & Grounds department, a unit run by John Gallagher of Aramark Schools, the New Rochelle Board of Education plans to approve a resolution extending a three-quarter million dollar contract with Aramark Management Services, Limited.

This comes despite an attempt last March by school administrators to violate the Aramark contract to pave the way for Aramark employees to qualify for a more lucrative New York State pension in the event the Aramark contract were to be terminated (video below). Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak and Assistant Superintendent John Quinn intend to hire the three employees in the event the board terminates the Aramark contract, sources tell Talk of the Sound.

Tonight's resolution reads as follows:

RESOLUTION NO. 12-352 RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING A CONTRACT WITH THE ARAMARK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LIMITED PARTNERSHIP FOR THE 2012-2013 SCHOOL YEAR

RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New Rochelle, New York, be and hereby approves the continuation of the contract with the ARAMARK Management Services Limited Partnership, 1717 Arch Street, 42nd Floor. Philadelphia, PA 19103, to provide contractual management support services of the school districts' facilities during the 2012-2013 school year; and, be it further RESOLVED, that the Board of Education authorizes payment to the ARAMARK Management Services Limited Partnership for such services at an annual fee of $744,356.00, to be paid in semi-monthly payments of $31,014.84 for the 2012·2013 school year; and, be it further RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately.

The company, also known as Aramark Schools or ServiceMaster, has had this contract for over 25 years. The contract has not been let out for bid in more than 12 years, according to board member Deidre Polow.

The board has been provided copious amounts of information indicating that Aramark Schools sits atop a rat's nest of corruption in the Buildings & Grounds Department at the City School District of New Rochelle. During the last budget cycle, Board members, the Citizens Advisory Committee and members of the public raised numerous questions about the failure to bid out the Aramark contract. Board members have openly demanded that the Buildings & Grounds Contract be put out for bid, many have stated they want Aramark gone as soon as possible and they want the Aramark employees currently working in the district gone immediately. Under a provision of the contract, the school district can direct Aramark to immediately remove any and all Aramark employees from New Rochelle schools without prior notice.

Matters reached a breaking point last March when board members learned that Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, Assistant Superintendent John Quinn and attorney Jeffery Kehl conspired to bring forward a resolution designed to do an end run around the board while defrauding taxpayers, sources say. These sources tell Talk of the Sound the plan was to sneak three Aramark employees onto the school district payroll during a Special Meeting of the school board on March 27th. It was imperative for them to pass Resolution 12-266-1 that night in order to meet an April 1st deadline to qualify the three Aramark employees -- John Gallagher, James Purdie, and Anthony Rigos -- for a Tier V pension after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a Pension Reform bill on March 16, 2012.

The March resolution read:

RESOLUTION NO. 12-266-1 RESOLUTION APPROVING PAYMENT FOR ADDITIONAL WORK RELATED TO THE ONE-TIME SPECIAL FILM PROJECT BY FTP PRODUCTIONS
RESOLYED, that the following personnel be authorized and approved to work on the one-time film project at Isaac E. Young Middle School (Resolution No. 12-263, dated 03/8/2012) during the period Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11,2012, at the hourly rates below; these fees will then be charged back to the film company for reimbursement.

NAME NO. OF HOURS RATE OF PAY
John Gallagher 15 $18.77
Arthur Lamber 8 $18.77
James Purdie 9 $18.77
Anthony Rigos 9 $18.77
Leon Spady 13 $21.84
Mike Umbro 16 $51.30

RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately.

Resolution 12-266-1 was tabled after board member Jeffrey Hastie demanded to know why the school district would pay Aramark employees (John Gallagher, James Purdie, Anthony Rigos) overtime as proposed in Resolution 12-266-1.

[Video of Hastie Questioning Quinn and Organisciak Embedded Above]

As Hastie pressed, Quinn and Organisciak sputtered.

"The three Aramark employees went above and beyond" said Organisciak and he and Quinn attempted to justify paying the three Aramark employees outside the contract.

A senior school district official met with a board member after the meeting to confirm that, in fact, none of the six people named in the resolution actually worked at all that weekend. Despite this the board is now considering a resolution to pay three of the six named in Resolution 12-266-1 under Resolution 13-47.

Hastie further pressed Quinn and Organisciak to explain why the resolution had to be passed at the same meeting where it was introduced as most draft board resolutions are considered for a week and then voted on by the board. Quinn became flustered and turned bright red.

Hastie continued, asking if there was any precedent for this, whether the district had ever paid any Aramark employees directly. Quinn started to answer "It's the first time we…" and Organisicak finished for him "…first time we ever had it" in an attempt to bail our Quinn.

"Exactly," said Hastie. "That's my point".

Board President Chrisanne Petrone asked Quinn whether paying the Aramark employees would violate the terms of the Aramark contract. Failing to get a satisfactory answer from Quinn or Organisciak, Petrone recommended tabling the motion.

As the Resolution faltered, Organisciak become upset, placing his hand over his mouth, a "tell" that board watchers know means Organisciak is very angry. He tried several more times to save the resolution, attempting to enlist the support of F.U.S.E. President Marty Daly who refused to even look up from his seat when Organisciak tried to justify passing the resolution in order to pay the two F.U.S.E. members listed in the resolution. Daly did not budge and Organisciak gave up.

Petrone was right to ask whether the resolution would expose the board legally with regard to the Aramark contract. It was a clear violation of the contract.

Section 1 a (1) of the Aramark contract states that Aramark will make all payments to its employees. Section 6 is a non-compete clause that says neither side will hire the other side's employees for a period of one year. There is a provision for Aramark to waive its rights under the contract.

Talk of the Sound spoke with Steven M. Weiser, Regional Vice President for Aramark Schools based in Philadelphia, PA. Weiser is a signatory to an amendment to the contract made in 2007 and responsible within Aramark for the City School District of New Rochelle account.

"This is the first I'm hearing of it," said Weiser, when asked whether Aramark had waived their rights under the contract which prohibit the school district from making direct payment to Aramark employees.

Weiser went on to say that he was unaware of any discussions or resolutions regarding payments to John Gallagher, James Purdie, and Anthony Rigos for overtime related to a film project or any other work. Weiser became silent when informed of the implications of putting Aramark employees on the district payroll before the Tier V Pension deadline in New York State at which point he stated he would need to refer the matter to the company's communications department.

Resolution 13-47 references a different resolution as tabled: "Resolution No. 12-263, dated 3/8/12, tabled". In fact, 12-263 was approved, not tabled. Resolution 12-266-1 is the resolution that was tabled on March 27th. This is the resolution the board is considering tonight:

RESOLUTION NO. 13-47 RESOLUTION APPROVING PAYMENT FOR ADDITIONAL WORK RELATED TO THE ONE-TIME SPECIAL FILM PROJECT BY FTP PRODUCTIONS

RESOLVED, that the following personnel be authorized and approved to work, on the one-time film project at Isaac E. Young Middle School, (Resolution No. 12-263, dated 3/8/12, tabled), during the period Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11, 2012, at the hourly rates, as follows: These fees will then be charged back to the film company for reimbursement.

NAME / NO. OF HOURS
Arthur Lambert 8 $18.77
Leon Spady 13 $21.84
Mike Umbra 16 $51.30

Resolution 12-263 said nothing at all about authorizing and approving work or payment for work to anyone. It reads as follows:

RESOLUTION NO. 12-263 RESOLUTION APPROVING THE GRANTING OF A SPECIAL ONE-TIME USE PERMIT FOR A FILM PROJECT BY FTP PRODUCTIONS, LLC

WHEREAS, FTP Productions, LLC has requested permission to film a portion of a movie consisting of a collegiate varsity rugby competition and related locker room scenes on the field and premises of Isaac E. Young Middle School; and

WHEREAS, the City School District of New Rochelle has been furnished with a copy of a shooting script confirming that the proposed use will be appropriate and will not bring the School District into disrepute; and

WHEREAS, FTP Productions, LLC has offered a location fee in the amount of $15,000 and the restoration of any damage to the school premises resulting from the proposed use; and

WHEREAS, the City of New Rochelle has requested that the School District accommodate the film project; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Board of Education hereby approves the grant of a special one-time use permit for the project as aforesaid, subject in all respects to the negotiation of a formal location agreement, in form and substance satisfactory to School District counsel and the Superintendent of Schools, providing for the aforesaid terms and such other provisions regarding insurance and liability as may be appropriate; and be it further

RESOLVED, that at the conclusion of the project the Board of Education and the administration shall evaluate the success of the project and determine whether any amendment to the Board of Education policies and related regulations regarding the use of school premises by outside groups should be considered for the future; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately.

So, why does Resolution 13-47 say "tabled", referencing Resolution 12-263 which was approved and not Resolution 12-266-1 which was tabled.

========== ========== ======== ========== ========== ========

UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO OF NEW ROCHELLE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING MARCH 27, 2012 - RESOLUTION 12-266-1

HASTIE: Yes, Im sorry. I feel like I am the only one asking questions tonight. Um, the first question is a general. I have several questions on this actually, the, um, first question is "What was the revenue we got from the uh…the film...

ORGANISCIAK: Fifteen thousand dollars from the movie company initially and then they had to take an extra day and I do believe that that amount came in about four thousand dollars or so, so I think the grand total was in the total of about twenty thousand dollars...

HASTIE: OK.

ORGANISCIAK: ...give or take.

HASTIE: OK. Great. And the money we're paying these gentleman, uh, they're all gentleman, yes, the money we're paying these gentleman will come out of that?

ORGANISCIAK: The money? Yes.

HASTIE: We're not charging them extra for this piece?

PETRONE: No, it's…

ORGANISCIAK: No, we're not...

QUINN: It's in addition to...

ORGANISCIAK: I'm sorry, No. No. John's correct.

QUINN: It's in addition to...

ORGANISCIAK: It's in addition to…right.

QUINN: The rental fee was nineteen thousand dollars...all of our variable expenses are charged on top of that.

HASTIE: On top of that…OK…perfect. Then the other question I have…is...I know John Gallagher, I guess, James Purdie, Anthony Rigos, and I guess Arthur Lambert...all four of those are the Armark employees, correct?

QUINN: Uh...No. I think only three of them.

ORGANISCIAK: Three out of the four.

HASTIE: Three of them.

QUINN: ...one of them is ours.

HASTIE: So, what is the…so...that seems...doesn't seem to make sense. If they're Aramark employees why are we…why are we paying them?

ORGANISCIAK: Because they did extra work above and beyond what it is they are paid to do.

HASTIE: And is that something that's that's in the contract…that's allowed to do...that we can pay them extra money outside of the contract that we already pay a lot of money for?

ORGANISCIAK: Um huh.

QUINN: It's above and beyond what we would normally expect them to do. It's the first time we...

ORGANISCIAK: First time we ever had it.

HASTIE (OFF-MIC): Exactly, that's my point.

QUINN: [inaudible/crosstalk] ...a movie company...so it's really above and beyond [inaudible] extra [inaudible] …above and beyond...

HASTIE: And what was the work they did?

QUINN: ...and the cost…the cost is borne by the movie company.

HASTIE: OK...

QUINN: …the cost….

HASTIE: What was the work they did?

QUINN: They were working with the company setting up making sure the set up would not be disruptive to the schools and also protecting the property.

ORGANISCIAK: Um huh

HASTIE: Right, and then, uh...

QUINN: …then following up…

HASTIE: ..I'm sorry...

QUINN: ...to make sure that what was said was actually done.

ORGANISCIAK: Um huh.

HASTIE: OK.

QUINN: …they were looking out for the school district's interests.

HASTIE: OK. And then the last question I have is...I know we have a Special Meeting afterwards…and the question…the question one I have is…I want to get back and just find out from our contract. I want…one, I want to table this until maybe next week because I don't understand why we need to vote on this tonight what's the sense of urgency for this…and I know we've got another amendment that we're voting on tonight mainly because we have a time constraint on the election piece…we need to have that done prior…uh...within the 45 days which falls between now and next week. This one however I don't know why we need to do this tonight so I would like to hear from our legal counsel just on…um... paying our contracted contractors outside…although it's not coming from us its coming from the film company I don't understand why we would have to pay contractors that we pay a good sum of money for already for additional hours and additional work. So, my recommendation is to table this until next week, at least.

PETRONE: Anyone else…coming in?

RELKIN: I just had a question about what Mr. Hastie just said. If…if it's being…um...if the fees are being charged back to the film company for reimbursement, I just…I'm missing what the issue is for you…

HASTIE: What the issue is that they're contracted…

RELKIN: No, no, no…what the issue is for you about the payment because if the charge is…if the payment is being charged back to the film company…

HASTIE: Hmmph...

RELKIN: Why does it matter? I'm sorry? It's just…

MERCHANT: it's [crosstalk]

HASTIE: No…I understand…it's a valid question My concern is that we have, we have a contract with Aramark for them to do work on our, on our facilities and then now we are passing…we as a board...are passing a resolution to have them paid. So, one, why do we have to pass a resolution if it's coming from the film company then they can just pay them…?

RELKIN: …you're saying then why isn't the film company paying directly?

HASTIE: ...why doesn't the film company pay them directly…

RELKIN: …that's your issue?

HASTIE: ...exactly so why are we doing a resolution on that. That's the first thing and why is it being subjected to our resolution. Second of all why are we just getting this resolution and have to pass it tonight as part of a Special Meeting. I don't understand the connection...why that has to be done tonight.

RELKIN: OK. Thanks.

ORGANISCIAK: Mr. Quinn did you want to say something?

QUINN: Yes, we would being pay them...charge them…so there is no charge to the board…

UNKNOWN/FEMALE: No.

QUINN: ...and they are not paying any of our staff directly so the other people on the resolution are paid directly to them...we bill them, they pay us…[inaudible] so it passes through...

PETRONE: I understand…

QUINN: …when the contract with Aramark came out it wasn't the board's policy to rent to film companies. I think it was the policy not to rent to film companies...and so this really is very much outside what the expectation would be.

HASTIE: And so what…so...still doesn't answer why do we have to approve this resolution tonight?

QUINN: We're trying to get the bills out the door.

ORGANISCIAK: To get people paid…

QUINN: But, uh…[crosstalk]

HASTIE: Yeah, but there's plenty of people that we have…you know that when we do a res...typically as you know with our resolutions we get 'em for the Committee of the Whole meetings the last week of…Tuesday…and the following week we vote on the resolution so why is this one out of all the other ones have to be done tonight why is this being pushed to be approved tonight?

QUINN: We wanted to expedite payment…

HASTIE: OK.

PETRONE: I have a question, more to what Jeffrey is saying. Is there anything in the Aramark contract that can get us in trouble for paying their employees as hourly employees. That's more of an issue because if that's an issue then we do have to table this for conference with our legal...

HASTIE: And I do think we should get legal...

ORGANISCIAK: It's just a few hundred dollars and…

PETRONE: It's not...It's not a matter of the amount. It's a matter of the process. If it's a dollar and it's a legal issue and it can get us in trouble, I am not willing to put the board in that position.

ORGANISCIAK: Uh huh...

BRICKELL: I agree Chrisanne.

QUINN: Then that might be something, why don't we set [crosstalk]...

PETRONE: Yeah, we may have to...

QUINN: [inaudible/crosstalk]

PETRONE: …that's my only….that's my only concern is that if people have a concern about that it…

QUINN: …[inaudible] dollars...

PETRONE: ...it doesn't come out the dollars of whose pocket it comes out to if there is a little loophole in the Aramark contract that basically says that…and granted I am not denying that whatever the work is done that they've gone above and beyond, they've done it on the weekend, we don't have them working on the weekend. I think, I don't think that is the issue here. What I am hearing in Jeffrey's statement is "Is there something in the Aramark contract that says we cannot hire them under and pay them separately?" That would concern me more because…you know…have we conferred with…has our attorney seen this resolution 'cause I haven't had a discussion with him myself…?

QUINN: Neither have I and I really…

PETRONE: …and maybe that means we have to table this and have that conversation.

ORGANISCIAK: I would only ask that you also consider that there are Board of Ed employees on this resolution. There are three people…

PETRONE: ….so then we are…

ORGANISCIAK: ...who are members of the F.U.S.E. bargaining unit. There are members who are paid hourly rates for their work. I would only ask what the board would like to do on that?

PETRONE: Well, Rich, we have a meeting next week. If we have this…we're talking about a week…

ORGANISCIAK: Fine.

PETRONE: ...difference then all we have to do we can vote on that. I can get back to the attorneys, get that answer.

ORGANISCIAK: Fine.

PETRONE: …We can put this through. We can have it amended or whatever. I think the the bigger question is making sure that…you know I don't think the question is not about whose getting paid whatever. If this means we then have to do two resolutions or resolution for for payment…

ORGANISCIAK: Fine.

PETRONE: …to Aramark for additional duties done above and beyond the call of duty and one separate for our employees…

ORGANISCIAK: OK.

PETRONE: …I don't have a problem with that. I think that Jeffrey's point is well taken with it does not matter whether it's a dollar or five hundred or whatever if this exposes us in any way it's our responsibly to have the quest…to ask the question and have the conversation. I'm not ready to put us out and expose us in that level.

ORELLANA: Chrisanne? Are all of these employees exempt employees?

PETRONE: I don't know.

ORGANISCIAK: What do you mean by exempt?

ORELLANA: Are they all salaried? Are they…are any of them hourly employees?

QUINN: They all are…they are…

PETRONE: For the purpose of this resolution...

ORGANISCIAK: No, they're not all our employees...

PETRONE: …they're considered hourly…

ORELLANA: I mean normally are they salaried employees?

LACHER: I mean…Gallagher…Gallagher is certainly not an hourly…

PETRONE: No.

ORGANISCIAK: …people here are regulars…on regular salary...

PETRONE: …they're regular salaried employees...

ORELLANA: …hourly...

ORGANISCIAK: Mr. Umbro is a full time custodian…

PETRONE: Right.

ORELLANA: …none of them are hourly?

ORGANISCIAK: Mr. Umbro is a full time custodian...

PETRONE: Right.

ORGANISCIAK: …so that's why he is included there at the hourly rate which is contractual.

PETRONE: Right. Do you want to touch on that? While you're...we're uh...

ORGANISCIAK: Well one of the elements we are discussing and we will be duh bringing to the board uh is the whole issue and I think the Advisory Committee touched on it actually which had to with hourly...

LACHER (ASIDE TO PETRONE): We need a motion to table it.

ORGANISCIAK: and from the perspective of looking at what can be reasonably offered for hourly-type of employment that's part of what I would suspect we're going to do going forward but that's in line with what I think I heard earlier from the Advisory Committee as well as some sense of having people having brought that up before so this is an ongoing conversation about what hourly compensation should be.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Excuse me, Can I just mention one little thing?

LACHER: No.

ORGANISCIAK: No, you can't.

LACHER: No.

PETRONE: alright, continuing on….

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In addition to the Aramark contract and the fraudulent payments for work not done on the film project at Isaac, there will be several other noteworthy resolutions considered tonight.

RESOLUTION NO. 13-44 RESOLUTION SETTING THE SALARIES OF SCHOOL DISTRICT PERSONNEL EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2012

RESOLVED, that the salaries of the School District central administration personnel not
covered by the forgoing provisions of this resolution be set effective July 1,2012 as follows:

Superintendent of Schools Richard E. Organisciak $272,496.00
Assistant Superintendent of Schools John B. Quinn 209.171.00
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Korostoff, Ed. D. 209.171.00
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Diane Massimo. Ph. D. 209.171.00
Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools Reza Kolahifar 145,493.00

Resolution 12-347-12 CO-CURRICULAR CLUBS/ACTIVITIES - NEW ROCHELLE HIGH SCHOOL STAFF MEMBER AUTHORIZATION

This resolution includes a list of stipends to be paid to New Rochelle staff for overseeing various clubs and activities. The Federal Equal Access Act requires equal treatment for all non-curriculum related clubs regardless of the content of speech at the club meetings. The moderators that I know do great work and go far beyond what they are paid to do. However, Board members might want to require that before being asked to pass this resolution that they get a list of the level of activity and involvement in these clubs. Perhaps they should ask for the number of members of these clubs, using some reasonable measure, and the frequency with which they meet or engage in activities. In other words, does the public have any assurances that these clubs which may have been very active at one time are still active recognizing the possibility that a stipend recipient had little motivation to to proactively inform anyone that their club is dormant or close to it.

RESOLUTION No. 12-347-1 PROBATIONARY APPOINTMENTS - PRINCIPALS COLUMBUS AND TRINITY ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

DiCarlo, Anthony, Tenure Area, Elementary School Principal, assigned to Trinity Elementary School, Salary Schedule EP, Step 9, $163,715, effective July 1,2012 to August 31. 2015, replacing Rolando Briceno, resigned.

Nunez, Sonia, Tenure Area, Elementary School Principal, assigned to Columbus Elementary School, Salary Schedule EP, Step 2, $141,904, effective July 1,2012 to August 31, 2015, replacing Dr. Yigal Joseph, retired.

RESOLUTION NO. 12-354 RESOLUTION URGING STATE LAWMAKERS TO PROVIDE MANDATE RELIEF

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, in accordance with Article 24. Executive Law §666, which establishes a Mandate Relief Council, the City School District of the City of New Rochelle, a Small Cities school district located in the City of New Rochelle, County of Westchester, State of New York. with an enrollment of approximately 11,000 students for 2011-2012 school year, asks, by resolution of its governing body, that the Mandate Relief Council review the following mandate to determine whether the specific statute, regulation, rule or order of state government is an unfunded mandate or is otherwise unsound, unduly burdensome or costly so as to require that it be eliminated or reformed:

FISCAL REFORM
Last In, First Out LIFO

Seniority should not be mandated as the sole factor when reducing tenured staff. Education Law Sections 2510 and 3013 (cities). Using Last In, First Out-LIFO is not educationally sound decision-making because it prohibits a district from considering such factors as, but not limited to, expertise, skill, quality of instruction and specialized certification. For example, teachers certified in French and Spanish all fall within the same tenure area of foreign language. While the least senior member of the foreign language department may be a "French expert" teacher, and no one else in the department possesses that same expertise, the least senior member, i.e., the "French" teacher, would be the faculty member excessed in the foreign language tenure area, thus forcing the district to either retain a less qualified member of the teaching staff, i.e. a "Spanish" teacher who may lack the certification required to teach the French class(es), or eliminate the program. This example is one of many possible scenarios that can affect multiple subject areas in secondary education outside of foreign language.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Warren Gross on Wed, 06/27/2012 - 18:51
Title: Unbelievable

I have never in all of my dealings with management and labor in conference or as a consultant ever read such a transcript.

My advise to Chrissane is stop being so tolerant. You could and should of ended this dialogue regarding Aramark much earlier by directing Organisciak and Quinn to act specifically on policy and financial matters and bring them before you and any board sub chairs in 48 hours.

Is Organisciak the designated District management contract negotiator with FUSE? I believe he is and I bring to your attention through this swamp of twists and turns his "reminder" to the Board that the district employees are covered under FUSE and... Good Lord, what the hell is going on in that room?

Mr Lacher, don't regress back to the days that you were an insensitive stuff shirt telling Cox and others about their clothing meaning if someone for whatever reason has a question just say no politely and offer the individual some moment afterwards.

Jeff, be clearer, firmer -- you represnt a constituent body and should not tiptoe around what you are trying to get at. Sounds like Chrisanne got it, but did she? Didn't hear from you and superised to hear Ms. Orellano direct what seemed to be a question to Ms. Petrone regarding the union status of an employee or employees.

It was enlightening and frightening and this is not being unfair. I don't know why Organisciak and his direct staff reports are on the payroll; you have people of this caliber managing Nunez, Galland and others>

You will likely not dismiss these folks, but if you have any semblence of self-preservation and community responsibility, at least replace him as the district third party negotiator.

And, I honestly do feel that this Board is moving in better directions but you could use an experienced hand to guide you in better use of policy and oversight. Having limited industry experience I can see that the management of such a huge budget along with a number of hugely incompetent direct reports who seemingly never met a scandal or problem they could solve, is perhaps too challenging. Pick someone up of integrity.

I will have nightmares over this dialogue and cannot help but feel that the tip of the iceberg is visible but not what remains below the waterline.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Wed, 06/27/2012 - 21:55

Warren,

You are making excellent points here.

There is a back story to this particular board meeting which I will only partially allude to here.

Hastie is the only one at the table aware, even before he asks a single question, that Organisciak, Quinn and Kehl have a trick up their sleeve. He is aware that in order for Gallagher, Rigos and Purdie to be "Eligible Hourly Workers" in the New York State Pension System they must be on the district payroll before April 1st, 2012. He knows that under Cuomo's pension reform legislation these three men are on the payroll before April 1st they will qualify for Tier V in the event they are hired as direct employees. He knows therefore that in order to thwart this he need merely get the board to agree to table the issue until next week. As far as Tier V, there is no "next week". It is all or nothing.

This is why the resolution read last night is telling: (1) Gallagher, Rigos and Purdie are not on the resolution; (2) it is three months later so what happened to the urgency that Organisciak argued for in order to pay the F.U.S.E. members and what happened to the urgency that Quinn argued for in order to expedite getting the bills out to the film company. Once the Tier V deadline had passed, there was no urgency and so they waited 3 months to bring forward the resolution to pay the other three guys.

Once you know that you can boil down the exchange and see that Hastie is really asking just two questions, both pertinent to the Tier V issue: Why are we putting them on the payroll as hourly workers in March 2012 when we have never done this before (the contract goes back 25 years) and why does it need to be done that night, March 27th, 2012 (4 days before the Tier V deadline). This is why, initially, he feels like he is the only one asking questions. He is the only one asking these rather obvious questions.

Given the number of times Organisciak and Quinn have tried to sneak resolutions through at Special Meetings you would think the Board would have learned to deny any resolutions at Special Meetings other than those absolutely required under the law (e.g. budget vote or board election resolutions).

Look at the absurd answers Quinn and Organisciak give when asked why Gallagher, Rigos and Purdie are being paid outside the Aramark contract.

"They did extra work above and beyond what it is they are paid to do."

"They were looking out for the school district's interests"

"It's above and beyond what we would normally expect them to do."

"It's the first time we ever had it."

"There are Board of Ed employees on this resolution who are members of the F.U.S.E. bargaining unit."

"It's just a few hundred dollars."

"We're trying to get the bills out the door."

"We wanted to expedite payment."

It's almost touching, right?

Not.

Even after Hastie has explained the rather obvious concern that the resolution is authorizing the district to violate the Aramark contract, Rachel Relkin, one of the two lawyers on the board, still doesn't understand why violating the contract should be an issue since the district is being reimbursed for the money paid to the three Aramark employees.

Relkin asks Hastie "Why does it matter?...Why is it an issue?"

A lawyer is asking why it is an issue to break a contract with one of the largest corporations in the world?

My personal favorite moment in this comedy show is when Quinn tried to blame the Board itself.

"When the contract with Aramark came out." offers Quinn, "it wasn't the board's policy to rent to film companies. I think it was the policy not to rent to film companies...and so this really is very much outside what the expectation would be."

I actually laughed aloud in the meeting when he said this.

Apparently for Quinn it's A-OK to violate the Aramark contract by putting three contract employees directly on the payroll because the board previously had a policy not to rent school grounds to a film production company? At this makes sense, how? Only at a Board of Education meeting would anyone even attempt to float such arrant nonsense as a justification for opening up the board to a lawsuit for tortious interference (inducing someone to break a contract with a third party). The fact is that when the contract was signed in 1987 the district did not have a policy on computer labs and smart boards and the Internet and lots of other things. The world has a changed a lot in 25 years but it has not changed so much that contracts can be broken with impunity.

There is a brief flurry towards the end with lots of crosstalk after Valerie Orellana asks a question about whether any of the six employees are exempt employees?

Chrisanne Petrone interrupts Organisciak to say that all of the people named in the resolution are hourly employees for purposes of the resolution.

And that is exactly the point.

Give Chrisanne credit. She had no idea any of this was going to be an issue before the meeting and she perfectly nailed the two key points, on the head. She recognized the significance of what it would mean to violate the Aramark contract and open up the school district to litigation and she realized that whatever their status up until that moment, if the resolution were adopted that night then all of the people on that list would be de jure hourly employees.

How would that have changed things?

What would have changed is that Gallagher, Rigos and Purdie would have been subject to tax withholding. They would need to complete a W-4 form. They would be subject to the S.A.V.E. law so this would be having their fingerprints taken and submitted for a New York State background check. They would have been pension eligible for the New York State Pension system (the real point) so they would have to file for their Tier V pension eligibility. In order to get a check, they would have been assigned an Employee ID number in the district's accounting and payroll system. This would have required filling out a job application form and related documentation.

In short, they would have become employees of the district with all that entails.

All this at the same time there was a contract expressly prohibiting the district from hiring any Aramark employees for a period of one year without a waiver. I spoke with Aramark and confirmed that the district had not sought nor received any such waiver.

Warren Gross on Thu, 06/28/2012 - 23:15

Thank you Bob, excellent reaffirmation of your earlier point plus more to ponder. It is truly Unbelievable.

How much more does the community directly affected by this madness need? I am at a loss for words. From a consultant's level generally more focused on the City Administration, it remains inconceivable that the City Council does not take a pointed, active role to protect voter interest, equity, and future student performance.

Your remarks clarify Jeff Hasties' seeming discomfort or lack of focus. You also mention Chrissane's challenges and efforts( my summarization, not necessarily yours).

I repeat she and any other board trustee REQUIRES assistance and support and you have some other community members have stepped up in the recent past. I think the history and ongoing insufferable conduct, risks will continue to raise havoc and severe financial and pedagogical consequences.

Thanks for spot-on reportabe and I urge the community to get off of their backsides and look more closely at what is and has been, happening here.

This is not a case of heroes and villians as much as a clarion call for doing the right thing. If you don't know this by now, you really should use some critical thinking and see the cause and effect on so many aspects of your economic circumstances.

ACT!

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 07/16/2012 - 15:13

You would think that the policy of the school board is to blindly accept any statement made by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak.

This is ironic considering the number of times he has been caught making false statements to the board and to the public.

OldTimeNewRochellean on Wed, 06/27/2012 - 16:08

Get that useless BOE and throw them ALL out!

Clean out City Hall of ALL the corruption!

Come on Bob, get the Governor to have a serious state audit and investigation!

Most of them would more than likely go to jail on some charge or another!

fearisourenemy on Wed, 06/27/2012 - 10:32
Title: Amazing!

First of all, can someone get Richard a doughnut to sit on? He appears rather uncomfortable with the exchange. Can we also get Quinn a mic for for proper "evidence" gathering?"

Seriously, why does the City School District of New Rochelle have to "launder" the movie company's money in order to pay Aramark employees for work done? Why can't the movie company pay them directly and leave the school district out of it? Does the movie company have a contract with Aramark that could complicate things? Nice Job Jeffrey and Chrisanne!