Sunday, March 15, 2009

An error message would be nice

I left a comment on WWL's website that was indecipherably cryptic, because the website didn't accept html. It accepted the comment, but without the link I assumed would be included. Just as well, because it was late and I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, I misunderstood something in Katie Moore's report:
Mayor Ray Nagin awarded the initial, $3 million contract in 2005 to Burnell Moliere, a man who had no experience in corrections, but ran a janitorial company.

He's now awaiting federal sentencing after pleading guilty to helping to conceal a school board bribery scheme.

TSAP C.E.O. Bill Welch took over Moliere's contract the following year.

I somehow took that mean to that Moliere ran TSAP before Welch took over operation of the company. So, I commented:
So let me get this straight, Burnell Moliere was the owner of TSAP when it was getting victimized in favor of a company owned by Moliere, Jimmie Woods and Ray Valdes?

A meaningless comment without the link, an incorrect one with the link. The mistake was entirely my own, but I do think that Moore should have said:
Mayor Ray Nagin awarded the initial, $3 million contract in 2005 to CBC, a company owned by the talented trio of (the ubiquitous) Jimmie Woods, Ray Vlades and Burnell Moliere, a man who had no experience in corrections, but ran a janitorial company.

I stopped work a blog post on the nefarious goings-on in the city's electronic monitoring process when it finally occurred to my sleep-deprived brain that I had misunderstood Moore's report, but not before blogger autopilot led to the Louisiana Secretary of State's corporate database. Now, I'm aware that when bloggers play internet detective and get all exited because they've found a smoking gun, it usually turns out to be a cap gun, but I did find an interesting coincidence. The CBC's filing lists the address as 2601 TULANE AVE., STE. 615, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70119. TSAP's address:: 2601 TULANE AVE., 6TH FLOOR, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70119-0000. Since TSAP's listing is for a trade name rather than a business and doesn't list any members or agents, I looked up William Welch. He has another listing on the sixth floor of 2601 Tulane Ave. I have no idea whether that has any significance, but I thought I'd share it.

Also, I couldn't help but notice the CBC's filing lists Rafael Valdes as agent, manager and member. When CBC was awarded the monitoring contract four years ago, Charles and Burnell Moliere both said that Valdes was no longer connected to the company. WDSU still uses Rice as a political analyst to comment on stories about the Nagin administration; I wonder if WDSU will employ him as an impartial analyst of the electronic monitoring contracts.

WWL and the Picayune have both done a fair amount of reporting on the electronic monitoring system, but I think I notice a minor contradiction, and I am left with an important question. WWL reports that "TSAP took over all electronic monitoring for all Orleans Parish courts in 2006," but the Picayune reports that:
The last time New Orleans officials sought bids for electronic monitoring for criminal defendants, a politically connected company wound up with a big piece of the action.

But Community Based Corrections LLC was let go in December 2007, when city officials decided the company was being outperformed by competitor Total Sentencing Alternatives Program, or TSAP.

I don't really care about slightly different reporting from two different sources, however it appears that that the mayor decided to award CBC's contract to TSAP without seeking new bids. Either date was well before this:
The company also upgraded its software to allow for real-time tracking of defendants.

Since September, the company has staffed its office overnight as well as during the day, ensuring authorities can be quickly alerted about violations, said William Welch, chief executive officer of TSAP.

Didn't the mayor think it would be a good idea to solicit bids from firms that could actually monitor prisoners at night.

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