Monday, January 23, 2006

Weekend political scandal news

A couple of stories caught my attention in yesterday's paper:
  1. The federal Mariano probe has caught up the school district, including beloved chief Paul Vallas. That is, Mariano and Perzel both had ties to an otherwise unqualified company (Danlin) which was hired by the school district to give advice on reducing its compensation costs (through a no-bid process, of course).
    The district's top financial officer at the time had concerns about Danlin but felt pressured by Vallas to hire the Center City firm, according to newly released records of the FBI's investigation into the matter.

    When Danlin ran into problems in 2004, Perzel's office stepped in, pressing Vallas to keep paying the company even after senior district staffers had concluded it wasn't delivering what it had promised, records show. Vallas in turn got personally involved, the records show.
    The story continues along sadly familiar lines. Not clear what indictments will come out of the new findings...

  2. A nonprofit organization controlled by state Senator Vince Fumo appears to have financed a lawsuit against a perennial Fumo rival:
    The FBI is asking why the nonprofit - created to clean streets and revitalize businesses in Fumo's district - financed an unsuccessful 2001 lawsuit against the head of the state Senate, Republican Robert C. Jubelirer of Altoona, according to people familiar with the investigation.
    Nonprofits aren't allowed to wade into politics, but the money was funneled unsubtlely through an intermediary (and Fumo political advisor). Very pretty, and it's only one of many unseemly charges against the company...
Above Average Jane noticed these same two stories, along with two others raising a similar stink of money and its influence on politicians around the state. She adds her thoughts on the problem of constant fundraising and the need for continued citizen oversight.


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