Monroe County has more or less conceded that there is no justification for the astronomical $175,000 price increase we’ve been forced to pay the Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA) to run the Marathon shelter. After months of back-and-forth, including dragging the State Attorneys Office into it, the county finally admitted that they never bothered to collect documents that would have substantiated the true cost of running the shelter.
Unfortunately for them, at least some of that information can be found elsewhere, and it suggests that the cost of running the shelter is substantially less than what we’re paying FKSPCA. The county never took basic steps to protect the taxpayers. They set us up to be ripped off. Why?
The whole thing started because of a very suspicious request for proposal (RFP) process. You can catch up on the back story starting here, here and here. Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA) President, Jane Dawkins, took great exception to my question-asking. She wrote a letter to the editor that revealed her profound ignorance and inflated sense of entitlement. Unfortunately for Jane, the hater of questions, her letter managed to generate even more questions. Needless to say, I was not pleased with Jane’s evasions and condescending attitude. I believe the taxpayers deserve much better. I responded accordingly.
I followed up with a public records request to FKSPCA. They were not very forthcoming initially. Neither was the county. Understandably so. The situation reeks of corruption. It turns out they had no reason to worry. Ordinarily, a situation which looks as suspicious as this would attract the attention of law enforcement. Not in Monroe County. In fact, the State Attorneys Office seemed anxious to make the whole thing go away.
I collected all the documents I could. None supported the notion that $425,000 is a reasonable amount to run the Marathon shelter. But they did support the idea that Monroe County is exceedingly careless (or corrupt?) in the administration of these contracts. The county did not collect the documents required, nor did they do an independent check on the actual cost of running the shelter. They simply accepted the FKSPCA’s inflated price without question.
The citizens of the Keys need to know that it doesn’t have to be like this. There are places where government officials and law enforcement actually care about doing right by the community. Like they are supposed to.
As if the financial shenanigans weren’t bad enough, the Blue Paper discovered that FKSPCA may not have been entirely honest about its euthanasia numbers either. The lies just never stop.
So that’s where we are. When it became clear that the State Attorney was determined to ignore the issue, I brought my concerns elsewhere. I’ve done all I can do for now. The sad part is there are several people along the way who’s job it is – actual paid job – to handle situations like this but they have all failed to do so. Here’s the run down.
- Kevin Wilson, Assistant County Administrator, is responsible for administering these contracts. The suspicious RFP and $175,000 cost escalation happened on his watch. When asked, he was unable to provide documents to justify it. In fact, he failed to collect several audited financial statements over the years. Wilson is directly responsible for this situation.
- Bob Shillinger, County Attorney, should provide oversight of legal matters including contracts and public records. But Shady Bob doesn’t seem much interested in all that boring stuff that protects the taxpayers. He’s more interested in providing cover for suspicious transactions and discouraging public records requests.
- Chris Weber, Chief “Investigator” at the State Attorneys Office, wasn’t the least bit curious about the suspicious RFP. Nor was he at all concerned about the county stonewalling my public records requests. Pretty weird for a law enforcement official. He seemed more worried about his cozy relationship with Shady Bob than about the taxpayers.
- Dennis Ward, Monroe County State Attorney, was copied on several emails regarding this matter. Nothing. It seems the SAO is desperate to sit tight until all this blows over.
- State Representative, Holly Raschein. There was a recent corruption scandal in Brevard County. But things are a whole lot different up there than they are in the Keys. Their state rep jumped in to condemn shady behavior. I guess Raschein is too busy? Or something?
That’s where it stands for now. The taxpayers are out $175,000 per year under suspicious circumstances. And nobody will do a damn thing.
I’m done looking into the $175,000 rip-off for now, but there are definitely other aspects of the animal control issue to examine: the cost of the building, FKSPCA’s euthanasia numbers.