The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Questions on jobs training funding persist

The grant in question began much larger and included the purchase of a van.

Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs desperately wants to put the imbroglio of the payments to The Incubator for a Federal Stimulus-program funded jobs training program behind it.

After resident Alan Goldstein persisted, the Robinson-Briggs administration finally acknowledged that he was right and that the vendor, The Incubator, was not authorized to receive the funds.

Last night, the Council approved a revised plan which would pay The Incubator out of CDBG funds.

Several of the jobs program participants addressed their concerns to the Council that the program was highly effective and was being unfairly punished. While all spoke movingly, some told of the confidence and skills they had been given through the program that led them to jobs they would never have believed they could hold.

Council President Annie McWilliams was at pains to point out, once they all had spoken, that the matter before the Council was not terminating the program (the program had actually been considered finished at the end of September), but was considering how to pay The Incubator for the services it had rendered.

While everyone believes The Incubator acted in good faith in making its application, I am not completely satisfied with the Robinson-Briggs administration's explanation that the mess is all the state's fault for not having told the committee which selected The Incubator (which included newly appointed Administration/Finance Director Al Restaino and Purchasing Agent David Spaulding) of the requirement.

Forgotten altogether now is the proposal for the purchase of a van that was in the original grant application.

But here's what is really sticking in my craw: This grant became urgent this past summer (see here) because the Robinson-Briggs administration had FAILED TO EXECUTE IT LAST YEAR, withdrawing a resolution which called for Plainfield Action Services to execute the grant, and the work needed to be done BY THE END OF THIS SEPTEMBER, and payment settled by the end of the current year.

As I pointed out last year (see here), the Plainfield Action Services board had forced a meeting with then City Administrator Marc Dashield to try and find out what had happened to about $97,000 of the grant which he could not account for and why PAS was not being allowed to go forward with executing the grant.

So, why didn't the Robinson-Briggs administration let PAS execute the grant? Was it because the administration knew that PAS was not on a state-approved list of jobs trainers? Or was it for some other reason?

In the haste to get past this bitter and embarrassing episode, the Robinson-Briggs administration wanted to go no further than to see that The Incubator was paid for work performed.

Council President McWilliams put newly confirmed Administration/Finance Director Al Restaino on notice that there better not be another instance such as this.

Paying for services rendered is all well and good; not getting to the bottom of the matter, not so.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you didn't cover the part where Mr. Restano continued to plead for payment of the Incubator Grant. It made me and others feel as if there is a lot more to this fiasco then we know. Let the contractor show what work was done and I doubt it even qualifies under the Training Provider Eliligibilty list of recognized activities. That would be the Councils first act before allocating a penny. If anyone gets sued it will be for malfeance and perhaps misappropriation. They should let this turkey go away, while they can. As head of PAS, and reviewer of the grant; Mr. Restano has a conflict because I seem to recall the original submission had a cover sheet with the Incubator name listed as the agency providing the services but Plainfield Action Services submitted an old grant with filed with DCA in 2007 as back up to the budget and as lead consultant including suppling employees. Those were the only documents, one page Incubator and seven pages Plainfield Action Services. You think that's why he's still trying to fund both entities; please follow the money trail on this grant. It smells to high heaven.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of grants, the triangle outside of the library was supposed to some sort of a garden put in - also by a CDBG grant 3 years ago.

What happened to that money, and if we are not getting anything on the island, can we get the eye polluting sign down?

Anonymous said...

Mister Dan
Had trouble finding your site this morning kept saying that it was shut down

Anonymous said...


Dan said...

10:44 -- you need to check Maria's blog. That is a redesign of the intersection, which is a County road. She posted recently on the progress being made. see