Earlier this year, I and others reported to you about an independent legislative audit which found that West Virginia wasted between $8 million and $15 million in federal stimulus money buying over sized routers to place in community anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries and state police stations.

The audit said Cisco up-sold the state and the state’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program made a series of errors in approving the deal.

That wasn’t the end of the story.

Now the legislative auditor has issued a new report about even more mismanagement in how the state spent millions of dollars in stimulus money, this time for 17 emergency communications towers.

According to the audit, state homeland security director Jimmy Gianato and emergency communications director Joe Gonzalez failed to comply with a series of state purchasing laws in awarding $10 million in tower construction business to Premier Construction of Lewis County.

The audit says Gonzalez had a “professional relationship” with the owner of Premier Construction and was even used by the company as a reference.  Gonzalez also played a role in Premier being awarded an earlier contract for building a single communications tower in Lewis County.

In 2010, when the state had an opportunity to expand its emergency communications network with federal stimulus money, the audit says Gonzalez and Gianato hired Premier without going through the proper bid process.  Premier then contracted out most of the work to five different companies, four of which were not licensed to do business in West Virginia (a violation of state law).

When state purchasing director David Tincher got wind of the tower project and became aware it had not been competitively bid, he warned Gonzalez and Gianato that the awarding of the contract “may not have been done in accordance with appropriate procedures.”

The audit says that despite Tincher’s recommendation to Gianato and Gonzalez that they stop construction, the work continued.

This all sounds remarkably similar to the “Routergate” scandal.  Large amounts of federal stimulus money are pushed into the state, where bureaucrats ignore proper procedures, despite warnings.

At best, this is gross incompetence of the kind that gets you fired in the private sector, but since this is state government, we can expect the usual shrug of the shoulders from under the capitol dome.

At worst, we have, at least according to the audit, willful violations of state law and a curious relationship between key state officials and a tiny company that got a huge state contract without going through the bid process.

U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld has let it be known that he has a public corruption unit in his office.  This audit would make for an interesting read by his team.

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Comments

  • TD's understudy

    This is Bush's fault. He got us into wars and send money to the oil companies, defense contractors, Haliburton, Koch brothers.

    Ahh, I still have much to learn, how do I link the tea party to this again?

    • Hop'sHip

      My guess is Fungo got himself a brand new name and he thinks himself to be very clever.

      • TD's understudy

        What exactly is this Fungo that you speak of? I am an understudy of TD and after months and months of being in the attic reading the prophet TD comments from this website I feel that I am ready to forth and spread his gospel.

        • Hop'sHip

          Well, I might be wrong. But if you are not Fungo, you should be HIS understudy because you sure sound like him. I wasn't aware that TD claimed to be a prophet. There are many who post here that claim to speak for God, but I don't remember TD doing so. Maybe you mean GregG? He is big supporter of all things religious.

      • FungoJoe

        No. Not me. Thanks for thinking of me, though.

  • DWM

    Give me one good reason why the two politicians won't be doing time for this?

    It is time taxpayers go on the warpath.

    • TD's understudy

      They wont be doing time because they didnt break any laws. Government is all knowing with the peoples best intrest at heart. Bush and Cheny should be jail as well as those pesky tea party people.

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    business as usual in the mountain state

  • Metzger

    its a beautiful thing

  • ConservativeRealist

    Link to the story of the surfer on food stamps - http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/10/the-new-face-of-snap-food-stamps-buy-lobster-for-surfer-and-his-buddies/ - but there is, "no waste"...

  • ConservativeRealist

    WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS OODLES SARCASM

    Like ole Nancy Pelosi said, "There is no waste in the Federal budget..." And we all know that if we run out of money, we'll just print or borrow more like we did for the one trillion that we spent on the Stmulus package - also known as Obama's New Deal. Who cares that in the original New Deal the money was spent on truly shovel ready projects like roads, dams, and other critical infrastructure unlike this past "Stimulus" that allowed as much as 40% (er that's 400 Billion) to go to our "partners" overseas for them to invest in America!!! These petty allegations of goverment waste and fiscal irresponsiblity pale in comparison to the travesties that are occurring right now in our country - to fix the economy and put people back to work we must first put all the coal miners out of work but only after we take their guns away, because we all know history and how pesky those miners can be if armed and allowed to fight for their rights and their jobs. We must shatter the myths that to get ahead in life you must work hard and stay in school for we have created these things called entitlements - giveaways that allow a surfer from California to buy lobster and sushi while he recovers from a hard day at the beach so that he can go play with his buddies in a rock band - for cash under the table not reportable as income. Jimmy Gianato and his friends are just living the new American Dream!!!

    • TD's understudy

      So what I see you saying is that you are just mad that you didnt get to eat lobster,

      • ConservativeRealist

        It's not just the lobster...I got no sushi either!!!

  • Larry

    I am still trying to figure out how Gianato is pronounced Janette?

  • Hop'sHip

    Of course Hoppy and his groupies have taken a legitimate story that needs a thorough investigation and turned it into an anti-government revival session. Why, this would never happen in the private sector. Hoppy, there is a reason why Dilbert is such a popular comic strip. Incompetence, corruption and stark stupidity exists everywhere. Because of sunshine laws and public audits, we are more likely to learn about it in the public sector. Perhaps, like the pointy-haired boss, Hoppy is blissfully unaware of his own contributions to human failings. Like so many who post here, maybe he believes that HIS excrement doesn't offend olfactory systems.

    • DonaldH

      Who's this Dilbert?

      • Hop'sHip

        DH: I assumed you would be one blissfully incapable of self-awareness, so ...never mind.

        • DonaldH

          Hmmm, am I "self-aware"?
          Well, let me check my "self-awareness" but before I do that I must first have a scale to judge my awareness-- let's see,, yep,, I'm aware I'm the more intelligent in this conversation.. And that isn't a conclusion reached by "assumption",, it's a conclusion reached by,,, well, never mind. You're dismissed, now..

          But before you sulk off, you should really consider changing your moniker to "AdHomAttacks -r-Hip"

    • Kirk

      The fact that there is incompetence and waste in the private sector has absolutely no bearing on the fact that this story, if true, represents willful disregard for the public interest. Businesses are accountable to their owners/shareholders. The government is (meant to be) accountable to its citizens. It is a journalist's job to report on this.

      • Hop'sHip

        I thought I had made clear that this was a legitimate story that needed thorough investigation. My objection was how it was quickly turned into a political agenda.

        • bulldog95

          This is only a political agenda to you because it happens to have happened when democrats were and are in charge. If this had happened when a republican was in charge you would would have a tingle in your pants and demanding someone to be jailed.

          • Hop'sHip

            With all due and undue respect, Mr. Dog, I am against government malfeasance no matter who is the perpetrator (and I am not a Democrat).

        • Kirk

          I'm trying to imagine a way that a story about politicians and government officials abusing their power for personal gain wouldn't have an inherent political agenda...

          • James

            Very good Kirk !

        • DonaldH

          Yes, I agree. It's a story about waste that we need to discuss in great detail but there's no need for us to mention who was doing the wasting... unless, of course, Halliburton is involved...

    • Retired Charlie

      HH,

      How can a story about government employee incompetence, corruption and/or stupidity not be anti government? It's not Hoppy poop that's offending your nose; button your collar button.

    • Charleston,WV

      Exactly Hop's Hip! To quote the future Presidential Hopeful Hillary Clinton, "What difference does it make"?

    • Charleston,WV

      Hop'sHip: According to data just recently released from the Census Bureau: "Americans paid a record of $114.032 billion in state and local individual income taxes in the second quarter of this year, according to the Census Bureau. That was up $7.787 billion—or 7.3 percent—from the previous all-time record of $106.245 billion in state and local individual income taxes that Americans paid in the second quarter of 2008".

      Do not worry that we are wasting tax payer money with the highest bidders, because we have more tax revenue to waste in the future. All is good!

    • DonaldH

      Hmm, interesting,, I researched this dilbert cartoon you spoke of and read several---- Funny stuff, man. But this "pointy haired boss" you likened Hoppy to-- The caricature of a "grumpy old white man"

      Interesting you conjured up this character to liken hoppy to in your vain attempt to alienate Hoppy from any credibility. Coincidence? highly doubtful. Subliminal? most likely..

    • Wowbagger

      Hippie,

      I have to agree, although not necessarily your specific point. Human beings in any large organization left to their own devices form bureaucracies. These tend to act to profit (not necessarily monetary profits), preserve and perpetuate themselves, and sometimes appear to act bizzarely to people outside the organization.

      Examples include WVU faculty and staff, the federal government, WV state government, and a lot of big corporations. The major difference is that the corporations have the discipline of needing to make a profit and ultimately have to answer to owners who are external to the organization (eg. stockholders).

  • Wowbagger

    Hmmm...

    Everybody's favorite Governor Joe Manchin was in office and when all of this corrupt purchasing was taking place.

    Let me remind you Joe is a micro-manager and I'll bet knew every big purchase that was going on during his tenure.

    • James

      Governor Joe probably setup the whole thing !

  • David Stanton

    And we could have used that money on a bona fide shovel-ready project...Rte 35

    • Spell Checker

      The Mason County Commission single-handed nixed Rt. 35 before the stimulus money was available. Yes it was a shovel-ready project....but the commission wasn't necessarily shoveling dirt.

      Latest figures show Mason County unemployment may have dipped out of double-figures. The Great Recession is over--prosperity has returned! Get the reelection posters ready!

      Who needs a four-lane completed anyway?

  • Gus

    Just wait until someone shines a light on fibergate, the $40 million travesty that Frontier pulled off with the stimulus funds.

    • Inwood

      Frontier built the network and it works, kids are using it every day across the state. Verizon built the same thing in Maryland with similar funds. Educate yourself.

  • Medman

    Is there anyone out there who is literate that still trusts our State or Federal government?

    • TD's understudy

      Government is good, they only want to help people.

      • James

        I don't believe you said that !!

        • TD's understudy

          Yes I said that. Government knows best for us and wants to help us all. They even want to help those that hates them because thats just shows how big of a heart they really have and how forgiving they really are.

          • mamasita

            And of course, "it's for the children!"

  • DonaldH

    Q’s reaction is much the same as mine,,--A Big Yawn,,-- Which means they, the government bureaucrats, elitist and aristocrats (i.e.progressive liberal democrats) have won. And certainly anyone that as much as raises even a discerning eye brow in protest or condemnation will be marginalized from the political arena and debate as a “Grumpy old white man..--- "Don't worry, be happy"

    • DonaldH

      Let me scratch "democrat" from my portrayal of a "liberal- progressive" --- I have come to realize the worst of the worst populate both sides of the aisle...

      • Wowbagger

        I'll bet that every bureaucrat named plus the owner of Premier Construction are Democrats!

    • Jeff

      Sorry to break your heart, but there is nothing "liberal" or "progressive" about the democrats in WV.

      • FungoJoe

        Oh yes there is. Do you read the Charleston Gazette?? The repressive progressive liberal mouth piece of the state democrats.

      • Wowbagger

        We are getting a lot of nanny state legislation lately. My interpretation is their progressive streaks are surfacing.

  • wvumounties8

    As usual Hop, good ol' West Virginia's "Good Ol' Boy Network" is alive a well. If the powers that be, would prosecute these "Good Ol' Boys", then it may stop some of this garbage. But, as you say......nothing will be done since it is "Guvment Work".

  • CaptainQ

    More government waste?

    Forgive me, Hoppy, I feel a yawn coming on.

    Just add this story to all of the others under the category "Wasted Stimulus Funds."

    "Nothing to see here!"

    • TD's understudy

      This is not waste because the govermnet does not waste. The goverment is all knowing and does nothing without a plan. Goverment is good.

      • Hillboy

        I don't know how that 'thou' got thrown in there. Durn Amish autocorrect.

    • Hillboy

      This is more about corruption than waste. We don't know if any money was wasted because we don't know what others would have bid for the same job. On the surface it looks like Gonzalez may have been directing work to a company he was a buddy with. One question that needs to be answered is whether he benefitted personally in some way. The other question is what are the consequences for violating state purchasing rules?

      Captain, this is where I would have expected you to go into your patented rant about one-party rule in WV. In the past I've said that I didn't think it would make any difference if there were more Republicans in office because WV Democrats were, for the most part, hard to differentiate from Republicans. However, if we had more representation from both parties maybe there would be fewer of these incidents. If you would have said that, I would have had to agree with thou.

      I guess we will find out because I think we are going to start to see more Republican office holders.

      • CaptainQ

        Hillboy, no point in me giving my old "one party rule" speech since it looks like that's pretty much accepted as fact now. I will meet you halfway on this point, historially, the WV GOP hasn't been squeaky clean either, just ask Arch Moore.

        • GregG

          Good point Captain. As my neighbor use to say..."If my grandmother were elected to office, she would turn into a crook".