Monday, December 25, 2006
Smells like Corruption to Me
--Pat, The Dog
P.S. Corporate money is not the only foul smell on The Hill; there's a dead mouse in the corner behind the couch (UC). But UC's become a tool of the Corporate state, too. Phewww!
Most people know how Halliburton/KBR (The 'K' in KSL) uses their political connections to rip-off US taxpayers. Now, Bechtel (partner in LANS) and Shaw Group Inc (the 'S' in KSL) have come under intense investigations in connected with the Katrina cleanup.
Think about it for a moment. Bechtel, KBR, and Shaw - all companies with ethical problems. And now, all three are involved in the day-to-day operations at LANL.
It appears that privatization has opened LANL's doors to the wolves.
Katrina fraud likely to balloon past $1B - Associated Press, Dec 25, 2006
WASHINGTON - Already at $1 billion, the tally for Hurricane Katrina waste will balloon next year as investigators shift their attention from fraudulent aid to the lucrative government contracts awarded with little competition.
Several of the contracts were hastily given to politically connected firms in the aftermath of the 2005 storm and were extended without warning months later. Critics say the arrangements promote waste and unfairly hurt small companies.
In January, federal investigators will release the first of several audits examining abuse in more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts. The charges range from political favoritism to limited opportunities for small and minority-owned firms, which initially got only 1.5 percent of the total work.
Currently, half of the government's contracts valued at $500,000 or greater are no-bid.
"Based on their track record, it wouldn't surprise me if we saw another billion more in waste," said Clark Kent Ervin, the
Homeland Security Department's inspector general from 2003-2004. "I don't think sufficient progress has been made."
He called it inexcusable that the Bush administration would still have so many no-bid contracts, noting that auditors and
Federal Emergency Management Agency director David Paulison himself have said they are prime areas for waste.
"It's a combination of laziness, ineptitude and it may well be nefarious," Ervin said.
Among the current investigations:
• The propriety of four no-bid contracts together worth $400 million to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Group Inc., CH2M Hill Companies Ltd., and Fluor Corp. that were awarded without competition.
The contracts drew immediate criticism because of the companies' extensive political and government ties, prompting a promise last year from Paulison to rebid them. Instead, FEMA rebid only a portion and then extended their contracts once, if not twice — to $3.4 billion total — so the firms could finish their remaining Katrina work.
The four companies, which have denied that connections played a factor, were among six that also won new contracts after open bidding in August. The latest contracts are worth up to $250 million each for future disaster work.
D'Agostino, in particular, may get enticed with a VP slot at a place like Bechtel. After all, he's the fellow who single-handily choose LANS/Bechtel for the RFP and will likely do the same for the upcoming LLNL RFP. Perhaps Bechtel may attempt to reward him for this service. I'm not saying he would accept such a reward, but the IG folks who monitor all these types of shenanigans should keep a close eye on NNSA managers to ensure that they stay honest.
Now, however, things are distinctly different. The stench that pervades "The Hill" these days strongly resembles corruption. Like the smell when the game warden has found the rotting corpses of five beautiful elk, minus their heads, which have been "harvested" for their antlers. The headless bodies discarded by the side of the road.
It smells kind of like that.
The process is corrupt. D'Agostino picked Bechtel to win the LANL contract, and he will pick Bechtel to win the LLNL contract.
Follow the money.
For those who contended that things couldn't get any worse back in the Nanos era: you haven't seen *anything* yet.
Pay Packages Allow Executives to Jump Ship With Less Risk - New York Times, Dec 29
Such golden hello payments are intended to make the executive “whole” — in essence to treat the executive as if his career were one smooth ascent with no costly interruptions. And these multimillion-dollar payments and perks are used to draw in not only chief executives, but virtually every member of the executive suite. If “golden parachutes” — rich exit packages of extra cash, stock or retirement benefits — are needed at times to kick out chief executives, golden hellos are increasingly needed to get them in the door.
Golden Hello's are the flip-side of the Golden Parachute. Mikey and his boys know them very well. They received a nice Golden Hello when they came on aboard at LANS. No matter what happens to the LANS pension, Mikey and his best friends are assured of receiving exactly what they would have received had they remained with the UC pension. What a sweet deal!
I suspect the top execs at LANS have little faith in the long term future of LANS' TCP1. Perhaps they know something about the future LANS benefits that the rest of the staff doesn't yet know? Could it be that the verbal promise of "substantial equivalent" will end up being redefined at some later date due to LANL's shrinking budget?
I predict the first thing to go will be retiree medical and it will start to disappear sometime in the next 3 years. Of course, Mikey and his best buddies are probably covered on that one, too.
But the current big question that inquiring minds want to know is -- just what kind of retirement package did Mitchell receive after serving on the LANS executive board for only six months? Was he covered by a LANS Golden Parachute?