Pat Powers is too steeped in the propaganda demands to offer any substantive analysis of the audit Mid-Central Educational Cooperative released yesterday of its handling of the federal GEAR UP grant funds. He can only recycle in a sidelong political screech his weak charge that discussing corruption at Mid-Central and the Department of Education is equivalent to dancing on children’s graves.
So Pat, is forensic economist Don Frankenfeld dancing on children’s graves when he says Eide Bailly’s no-smoking-gun review of Mid-Central’s GEAR UP books is only a first step in what needs to be a deeper investigation?
Frankenfeld says the audit turned up some minor discrepancies showing what he calls some sloppy accounting procedures at the cooperative but no major obvious problems. He says a second more extensive audit is needed to take a deeper look at the payments made to each vendor.
“I think enough has happened, red flags as they say, including the tragic deaths of two people who worked at the co-op and their children. Enough questions, I think have been raised that I think a thorough analysis is appropriate, particularly when we’re talking about more than $6-million in state and ultimately federal money was expended,” says Frankenfeld [link added; Charles Michael Ray, “Frankenfeld: Deeper GEAR UP Audit Needed,” SDPB Radio, 2015.12.03].
Ah, but Frankenfeld is promoting the Anti-Corruption Act ballot initiative with Republican Dave Volk, Independent Rick Knobe, and Democrat Rick Weiland to create an ethics commission that could investigate the kind of corruption that appears to have broken out at Mid-Central, so I’m sure Pat will dismiss all of them as political vultures. Such denial is far easier for a political hack like Pat than admitting, analyzing, and solving corruption in South Dakota government.
* * *
Speaking of Mid-Central, the audit they paid Eide Bailly to conduct only looked at “GEAR UP reimbursements paid to MCEC” by the South Dakota Department of Education “for the time period of July 2013 through September 2015.” It does not include the $233,925.99 in GEAR UP money disbursed to MCEC by DOE in November 2015:
Recall that Education Secretary Schopp cancelled Mid-Central’s GEAR UP contract by phone on September 16 and in writing on September 21. In the September, October, and November MCEC minutes, I find 42 checks to vendors tagged “GEAR UP”—the vast majority of them, 34, in September—totaling $121,958.81. So there must be another $111,967.18 in GEAR UP expenses that MCEC wracked up in previous months that it simply hadn’t submitted for reimbursement to DOE prior to the contract cancellation… or Eide Bailly needs to call Don Frankenfeld to take a second look at the books.