I told you last week that I would use the $5,000 "Trinity flag pole" job to highlight some examples of, shall we say, "questionable" transactions that have occurred under Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, Assistant Superintendent John Quinn and Aramark Consultant John "Coffee Cup" Gallagher.
I wanted to start with some "bite size" examples that were easy to understand and that people could check themselves and start to wrap their head around the extent of the corruption in the New Rochelle schools.
I have another one -- it is one of my favorites for its sheer audacity.
John Gallagher and John Quinn spent $5,792 to "move dirt".
I put the term in quotation marks because I have yet to find anyone who recalls their being any dirt to move but I am getting ahead of myself.
One of the biggest District contractors for Buildings & Grounds work, for years, has been a first class, foul-mouthed lout named Mauro Zonzini who is apparently unable to construct a sentence without the F-word in it. He has or had two companies: Zonzini Masonry and Zonzini Pipeline (he claims he sold them but that is not so clear).
Zonzini has gleefully collected hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on deals with the City of New Rochelle, the City of Mount Vernon and others - probably millions. For now I am interested in the large sums Zonzini took in from the City School District of New Rochelle.
Mauro Zonzini’s main guy for his fun and games in New Rochelle Schools is Gallagher. You can ask district employees why they call him “Coffee Cup John” but I can tell you it is not because he is buying hot beverages for his employees. Let's just say that Mauro has filled a lot of John's coffee cups over the years after cashing checks made out to "Cash".
In 2012, Mauro Zonzini submitted an invoice for $5,792.00 dated 10/1/12 to the City School District of New Rochelle to the attention of John Gallagher.
It reads as follows:
We were asked to remove 50 yards of soil from the rear of NRHS so that there could be room for snow storage.
Got that? We've got to move dirt to make room for snow around McKenna Field.
And the taxpayer will pay almost six grand to move this dirt.
One question might be WHY was there 50 yards of soil laying around the football field?
Another might be WHY would you move soil to make room for snow? Have you ever been to the rear of New Rochelle High School? There is a ton of room back there. What possible difference would 50 yards of soil make?
The District has eliminated 200 positions in the last five years but they can find that kind of money to move dirt to make room for snow?
The invoice says Zonzini charged 2 men for 1 day of 16 hours at a rate of $112.00 an hour of $1,792.00. He also charged for a Backhoe at the Daily Contract Rate of $1,500.00 (Contract 4270-10) and a fee of $50 per cubic yard of soil for 50 cubic yards which includes removing any debris from the site as needed. The total is $5,792.00.
I have no idea how much 50 cubic yards of soil is so I called around and got some rough estimates.
I am told that a 3-axel dump truck can hold 12-14 cubic yards per dump truck so that is maybe 3-4 loads on a dump truck. A long dumpster like the kind they have on a construction site is 20 cubic yards so maybe 2 and a half of those.
I am also told that using a backhoe with an operator and 2 guys on the ground they could move 50 cubics yards in about 45-90 minutes.
I also learned that you can sell topsoil.
A cubic yard of topsoil can run anywhere from $50 to $125 - delivered. Delivery is a big cost factor. If you have a pick-up truck and can "will-call" a cubic yard or two cost can be $30 to $75 a cubic yard. I've gotten a pick-up truck filled for $50; equivalent to 2+ cubic yards.
Be absolutely sure to compare soil components at various places. Topsoil is usually the best grade, with "construction fill" being the lowest grade.
The topsoil came from somewhere so you have to consider that at some point the district bought 50 cubic yards and at least $50 per cubic yard, paying at least $2,500 and the effectively gave away $2,500 worth of soil to Zonzini -- who conveniently has another line of work where he fills in sink holes and charges for the soil he uses to fill in the holes (more on that another day).
The thing is that I could not find anyone at New Rochelle High School who could recall a 50 cubic yard pile of dirt in the "back of NRHS" or that this work was done. These folks told me -- and I confirmed it myself -- that snow right now is piled up on a "paved" surface, whatever that material is that they use to cover the track around the football field. As you walk to the field from the high school, the "visitor" bleachers are to your right, there is a paved area where snow is piled up. It is the only area I could find that had a snow piled up on it. Given that this year has set records for the amount of snowfall the area supposedly cleared by Zonzini would certainly be in use -- if not this year then when? -- yet there is no such pile of snow visible at the "back of NRHS".
Mauro Zonzini is what one might call an "ethically-challenged" individual.
To get a sense of the man, here are articles I ran last summer, that explain the relationship between two of the biggest "pals" in New Rochelle, NRPD Commissioner Patrick Carroll and Mauro Zonzini.
Readers are free to draw their own conclusions.