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Golden landmines

By PA

Fort Wayne Reader

2008-05-20


When Fort Wayne Mayor Graham Richard left office in January, he didnít take a golden parachute - the windfall bonus that some CEOís take with them when they leave a high-profile, high-paying job. However, it does appear that Richard did leave something of a golden landmine.

About a week before leaving office, Mayor Richard obligated the City of Fort Wayne to a three-year, $285,000 contract with the High Performance Government Network, a new organization designed to help governmental units save money by becoming more efficient.

Richard himself is not formally connected to the organization and does not profit from its operations, however the network does employ several former Richard staffers. The organizationís staff includes Ryan Chasey, Kate Love-Jacobson, Joy Hudson, and Christopher Campbell, all of whom worked for the City, some as part of Richardís key administration staff.

While the contract appears to be perfectly legal, its 11th hour signing and apparent ducking from City Council scrutiny are raising questions.
The threshold for contracts to be required to receive City Council review is $100,000 per year. The Cityís contract with the High Performance Government Network breaks down to $95,000 per year - just under the bar for council approval.

Also raising eyebrows is the fact that the network appears to have been paid a good chunk of money in advance of services. The City paid the first $95,000 annual payment in December. By March, the City had shelled out another $42,000 (half of its 2008 commitment). Add to that a payment of $15,000 in annual membership fees. All without any additional oversight.

The network itself might very well be a worthwhile investment. As mayor, Richard earned a national reputation for running government efficiently and helped Fort Wayne save tens of millions of dollars through initiatives like Six Sigma. Already, the High Performance Government Network has attracted The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, and the Indiana University School of Public & Environmental Affairs as members.

However, the execution of this contract seems to put expediency over efficiency.

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