Money for Poor Furnishes City Offices

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May 12, 2011; Source: Detroit Free Press | From the, "this just leaves us speechless department," comes a story out of Detroit that should make you mad enough to want to start breaking up the furniture. But in this case, that would only add injury to insult.

As the Detroit Free Press reports, a local nonprofit used $210,000 of a $1.2 million no-bid contract to buy furniture. That was money exclusively earmarked to pay employees who work for Clark & Associates, which helps the city manage a program that provides food and clothing to Detroit residents who need assistance. But the story gets even more bizarre.

The furniture – Cherrywood desks, chairs and tables – ended up in the offices of the Department of Human Services, which was the agency that awarded the no-bid contract to the nonprofit. "This is an abomination," said said Greg Murray, vice president and administrative representative for the Senior Accountants, Analysts and Appraisers Association, and the person who uncovered the furniture purchases. "It's a no-bid contract that helped the department that issued the contract."

Murray told the Free Press that the department violated a city ordinance that requires purchases of over $25,000 to be approved by the City Council. So far, how this transpired is a mystery. According to the newspaper, city investigators haven't been getting answers to their questions from the department and requests from the Free Press for comment have been ignored. For now, though, it seems that the agency and nonprofit involved don't have a leg to stand on – even if they have plush furniture to sit in.—Bruce Trachtenberg