On pages 8-9 of the forensic examination report, Kostin Ruffkess & Co. lists, as one of the “methods and schemes” by which town assets were allegedly “misappropriated,” the circumvention of and failure to follow the town’s bidding requirements.
Kostin Ruffkess & Co. looked at just three contracts, in the Community Services area, but the circumvention of and failure to follow the town’s bidding requirements was a problem throughout the town’s departments. It had little or nothing to do with the Ierardis.
Section 406(A) of the Charter makes it clear that the First Selectman is solely responsible for bidding out Town contracts (the Board of Education is responsible for education-related contracts).
Kopetz is now bidding out contracts, but why is he not responsible, as our forensic auditor says in its report, for the misappropriation of town assets by not following the Charter requirements in the past? Kopetz himself said publicly that the Town saved $1.4 million by fully bidding out the non-medical insurance contract. Why are we talking about how can we proceed against the Ierardis for misappropriation of town funds, but not against Kevin Kopetz?
When I raised this issue at this week’s Board of Finance meeting, there was, needless to say, no discussion. Acting chair Michael Peterson said that it wasn’t the bidding out of the insurance contract that saved us money, but the new bidder’s different plan. I responded that it was the open bidding of the contract that gave the town the opportunity to consider the new bidder’s different plan. He immediately said that I’d run out of time, although there was no time period specified and not many people left to ask questions or make statements.
Kopetz wants credit for the big savings in insurance, but not the blame for effectively giving away taxpayers’ money by not fully bidding out contracts in the past. This is misappropriation of funds not to put it into his own pocket, but into others’ pockets. From the taxpayer’s point of view, it doesn’t really matter where the money ends up.
There is also the issue of kickbacks. Unbid contracts often lead to payments to those who arranged the contracts, essentially rewards for a job well done. Kostin Ruffkess knows this, but does not seem concerned enough to look for possible kickbacks in North Haven. Or perhaps they’re not being asked to. Finding kickbacks outside the Community Services would be more embarrassing than what the Ierardis have been charged with doing.