Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Have Lunch On Us

Rand-om Thoughts . . .

by George Rand

Who Said There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch?

Try telling this to your boss sometime: "Boss, I'm holding a meeting with some of our employees at lunch today in that little French bistro downtown and, of course, I'll give you the bill when we get back." Sounds farfetched? Maybe in the business world, but not in our multimillion dollar public school system.

State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi found in an audit of the Manhasset school district that the superintendent billed taxpayers $2,168 for business lunches without providing information on their purpose or who attended. What would happen if you did that where you work?

More interesting, however, was this: The auditors questioned the superintendent's "justification" for routinely scheduling meetings during lunch hour and incurring food expenses."
Sure, let the taxpayers pay for lunch!

At about the time the auditors released the above report, two former employees of the Roslyn public schools pleased guilty in a $11.2 million embezzlement scheme. If you saw this in a Hollywood movie you would never believe it could happen on Long Island. Millions of dollars were spent by the Roslyn school superintendent and his administrators and no one noticed. Not the school board, not the school's accountants, not the taxpayers, until someone wrote an anonymous letter.

School officials spent money on Concorde flights, cars, vacations , real estate and various personal luxuries. The superintendent fraudulently steered more than $200,000 in school funds to his domestic partner who was his frequent travel companion to Las Vegas. The school's business manager pleaded guilty to stealing $4 million from the school district; her son, a building contractor, has been charged with using the school district's credit card to buy construction material. Even the accountant who audited the school for years is accused of falsifying records. And during all this time, Roslyn residents were happy as can be since their kids were getting into the best colleges and they were giving credit for that to their superintendent, the one now awaiting sentencing to a long prison term.

Do you know where your school taxes are going?
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George Rand is a resident of Franklin Square and a frequent contributor to community interest publications, the local papers, and now, The Community Alliance blog. Have some thoughts of your own concerning our Long Island community (or your little part of it)? Write us at info@thecommunityalliance.org.

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