Wait, What? – Working to educate, persuade and mobilize through “perceptive and acerbic” observations about Connecticut Government and Politics

15 Jun

Who said competitive bidding doesn’t work

Pryor, Vallas, Adamowski and the other “education reformers’ appear to have a proclivity to by-pass the competitive bidding requirements or the need to get a group of the impacted people together to review alternative vendors and products.

And yet, when the need arises, that old adage kicks in – “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Take the following case study, for example.

When Gary Chico, the Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education finished the board meeting six weeks ago, The Vallas Group had “won” a million-dollar contract to come in and assist some of the failing school districts in northern Illinois.

Vallas beat out four other companies in a competitive bid process that saw the large and experienced, Washington D.C- based, American Institute for Research come in second.

While the Vallas Group wasn’t the lowest bid, the three reviewers gave them a nearly perfect score. (http://www.isbe.state.il.us/foia/pdf/fy2012/may12/12-370-doc2.pdf ).

And just for background, let’s just say that it would be an understatement to say that Chico and Vallas go way back.

Gary Chico worked as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s Chief of Staff from 1992 to 1995. Paul Vallas was the numbers guy. When Daley moved to take greater control of Chicago’s schools in 1995, (with a nod to John Dillinger or Willie Sutton or whoever actually said, “Because that’s where the money is”) Daley asked Chico to serve as the school system’s CEO.

Chico didn’t want the job, but recommended Vallas. Chico became the Board of Education President and Vallas took on the role of CEO. Together they ruled the Chicago schools until 2001.

After the team ran the schools, Chico went on to lose a run for the US Senate in 2004, but returned to municipal service in 2007 when he was named board president of the Chicago Park District. He moved on to become board president for the City Colleges of Chicago in 2010.

In February 2011, Chico also ran for Mayor, finishing a distant second to Rahm Emanuel. Who was Chico’s campaign manager? None other than Dean Vallas, Paul’s brother. And what was one of highlights of Chico’s failing campaign, when Paul Vallas returned to Chicago to endorse his friend.

Three months later, Chico was appointed Chairman of the Illinois Board of Education.

As to the news that Chico was taking over the Illinois Board, one Chicago blogger wrote “Let’s be clear about what the Chico regime accomplished…It started the city down the path of privatization…. He also drastically cut recess, physical education and the arts while increasing standardized testing. The short-term gains [in test scores] have long since left the system, and even then those ‘gains’ were just incremental improvements.” (Hey that sounds familiar)

Meanwhile, after serving as CEO of the Chicago Schools, Paul Vallas also made a run for elective office. With his brother’s help, Paul Vallas ran for Governor in 2002, losing a Democratic primary to Rod Blagojevich by only 25,000 votes. The campaign left Vallas with a $537,000 campaign debt, which apparently, years later, he and his brother ended up having to personally pay off.

With that loss he headed to Philadelphia and then New Orleans, but strongly considered a run for President of the Illinois Cook County Board in 2010, interestingly, this time he decided to run as a Republican.

Republicans rejoiced at the news. One Republican leader was quoted as saying “I think he’d be an excellent candidate…He’d be great for Republicans, great for Cook County…”

Although Vallas set up an exploratory committee, he ended up passing on the Cook Country run, instead staying in New Orleans while picking up major consulting contracts in Haiti and Chile.

Adding Bridgeport to his resume last year, his consulting company, The Vallas Group is now busy adding clients, including the $1 million dollar contract, his friend Paul Chico was able to vote on during the recent Illinois State Board of Education meeting.

All of that bring us back to the issue about why the “education reformers” seem unwilling to follow the letter or the spirit of Connecticut law when it comes to competitive bidding?

via Wait, What? – Working to educate, persuade and mobilize through “perceptive and acerbic” observations about Connecticut Government and Politics.


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