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Manhattan BP calls for freeze on DOE consulting contracts

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and UFT President Michael Mulgrew.Miller PhotographyManhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, joined by UFT President Michael Mulgrew at a press conference at the Manhattan Municipal Building, called for a freeze on all new, nonessential DOE consulting contracts.

Responding to the latest in a series of consulting scandals that have plagued the Department of Education in recent years, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer — who was joined by UFT President Michael Mulgrew at a press conference at the Manhattan Municipal Building — called for a freeze on all new, nonessential DOE consulting contracts. Declaring consulting “the new political patronage of our time,” the two leaders also called for a “top-to-bottom” probe of all existing DOE contracts.

“There is something wrong here,” Mulgrew said of the DOE’s inability to effectively oversee its contractors and consultants. “The parents in this city, the children in the schools, the teachers are sick and tired of every week hearing about another scandal with outside contractors and consultants making millions of dollars that should be used in the classroom for direct services for students.”

Mulgrew said revelations of the DOE financial scandals were especially disheartening at a time when the mayor is pushing to lay off more than 4,200 teachers on the grounds that the city can no longer afford to pay them.

“You want to start talking about ‘budgets are tight’?” Mulgrew asked. “Well then DOE, Mr. Mayor take some accountability and let’s start fixing this mess which you have complete responsibility for.”

Running through a long list of the recent consulting scandals afflicting the DOE, Stringer insisted that “what’s needed is reform. This gravy train has got to stop.”

The joint press conference was called in response to a report released on May 24 by Richard Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for the city’s schools, in which Condon charged the school system’s former chief financial officer, George Raab, and several consultants he had recommended with inappropriately using both their time and the DOE’s email system for non-DOE business.

Raab joined the DOE at an annual salary of $196,000 in October 2008 after the implosion of his previous employer, Bear Stearns. According to Condon’s report, he and three consultants — all colleagues from Bear Stearns and raking in as much as $100 per hour — collaborated during city work hours in the creation of Guggenheim Securities, the wing of Guggenheim Partners LLC where he and two of the consultants now work.

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