Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bredesen is right to clean house at THP
Let the housecleaning begin at the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The more we learn about the behind the scenes operation of THP, the worse the whole mess looks. While the THP scandal didn't begin with the administration of Gov. Phil Bredesen, he has promised to end it.

For decades, THP has been as much a political operation as it has been a law enforcement operation. That has earned THP officers and officials some nice perks. There is a host of special rules that apply to THP officers that few others in state government benefit from. Everything from special pay raises to the politics of promotions within the department is now coming under intense scrutiny.
So Governor Bredesen want to hire a consulting firm to do advise on the housecleaning:
Nicely, Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz and Deputy Personnel Commissioner Nat Johnson told the panel that plans are under way to hire Kroll Government Services Inc., a New York-based security consulting firm, to conduct a review of Highway Patrol practices.
But the estimated $100,000 to $200,000 contract is a no-bid contract because of the need to act quickly:
Sens. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville, and Jerry Cooper, D-Morrison, questioned the plan to sign up Kroll without a competitive bidding process. Goetz said the paperwork for that would take "six to eight weeks." He said the administration wants to move forward quickly.
The problem is, the firm for which the no-bid contract is proposed has ties to the Bredesen campaign:
Michael Shmerling, a former Nashville businessman who is listed on the company Web site as head of another Kroll division, has donated at least $7,500 to Bredesen's campaigns since 2001, a review of finance disclosure records after the meeting indicated.
I can understand the need to hire a consulting firm and also the need to award a no-bid contract, in the interest of expediency, but wouldn't it be better if the contract went to a company whose officers had not contributed to the governor's campaign.

This sounds like the criticism of the Bush administration for no-bidding the work they gave Halliburton in Iraq. However, this article doesn't describe that Kroll is in a unique position, as Halliburton was.