Friday, September 25, 2009

Vonderheid- Just A Couple Of Questions

Over at Gort42 the Gortmeister tears into Todd Vonderheid over his interview before the Luzerne County Government Study Commission.

When Vonderheid was asked the question about the lease concerning PA Child Care and whether he would do it again his response was "I'd sign that lease tomorrow, with only two alterations,"

He goes on further to say As for the two differences, the first change would have been to pre-negotiate the price, and the second would have been to tie the rent the county paid for the facility to the governmental reimbursement rate so there wouldn't have been a significant fluctuation, Vonderheid said.

Todd, I think you have some explaining to do. Let's take a look at the facts and see if your statements hold up.

1st issue: On the price pre-negotiation statement. Todd, you must have a significant lapse in memory.

New juvenile facility ready for business
By Fred Ney , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer

Pennsylvania Child Care, a new multi-million dollar juvenile detention and residential treatment center, opened Thursday in Pittston Township amid expectations that the facility will forge working relationships with many Pennsylvania county court systems, especially Luzerne's.

The county commissioners Wednesday passed several motions creating contracts with seven different juvenile detention facilities in the state, including Pennsylvania Child Care. Commissioner Makowski stressed that the county has decided to build its own juvenile detention facility.

Detention is 100-percent reimbursable by the federal government and costs vary from $160 to $288 per day.

PCC charges $268 per day.

Vonderheid tries to cover his tracks by asking for the results of the audit being conducted by the State Department of Public Welfare when he already voted for the lease. Once you enter a lease it is very difficult to break. Vonderheid justifies the lease cost based on prices paid for the last three years. Again, if they are doing it for the last three years where was the emergency?

Vonderheid states if the audit comes back and is unfavorable to PA ChildCare he will do what is right for the taxpayers. What were his actions when he found out about the results of the audit? Nothing.

County declares emergency, OKs pact with juvenile care center
By James Conmy , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer

Luzerne County Commissioners Greg Skrepenak and Todd Vonderheid declared a state-of-emergency Thursday to ratify four short-term contracts with service providers for a Pittston Township juvenile care center. The county will begin a 20-year, $58 million lease for the facility with Pennsylvania Child Care on Jan. 1. All contracts with service providers at the facility expire Dec. 31.

An emergency was declared to bypass normal advertising requirements for services, Vonderheid said.

Commissioner Stephen Urban did not support any of the contracts. He said declaring the emergency was unnecessary and proves Vonderheid and Skrepenak acted on the lease too quickly.

Vonderheid's letter to Estelle Richman, secretary of the Department of Public Welfare, asking to expedite an audit, which allegedly warns the lease is a bad deal for taxpayers, is too late, Urban said.

"He didn't do his due diligence on this," Urban said of Vonderheid. "His letter is nothing more than back tracking. He is asking questions that should have been asked before he signed the lease."

"The lease was based on rates approved for three straight years, by two different administrations," Vonderheid said.

So Todd, you were telling us that the rates were approved for three straight years but there was no pre-negotiating??? You're free to comment and explain that rationale.

2nd issue. Declaring an emergency. He admits in the last sentence above that the rates were approved for at least three years. What necessitated an emergency? Was the emergency declared to purposely bypass bidding requirements or contract requirements of public officials? Can someone explain to me how you declare a 20 year emergency, 20 years being the amount of time entered into by Luzerne County to lease PA Child Care?

Further, at the same meeting support services for the PA ChildCare facility are authorized for only 30 or 120 day periods. How can you have an emergency for the main facility but not the services that support it?

"Other contracts approved were for food service, custodial and maintenance service, and health insurance. They were all for 120 days, except the custodial and maintenance contract, which is for 30 days.

Greg Zappala claims he was unaware of Ciavarella's and Conahan's escapades. Greg, you are in finance. Let's ask you a question. Your father is a former judge. Your brother is a District Attorney. You own a business and watch a motion pass declaring an emergency when the county has been leasing your facility for three years and it doesn't catch your eye? I guess it's possible......

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