Holmes delivers contract to Riley, asks him not to sign it
The legislative contract review committee can hold up a contract for 45 days, but cannot stop it. Monday was the last day that the committee could delay the contract.
Riley is expected to sign the amended contract with Paragon Source LLC, but will review it first, according to his spokesman.
The chairman of the committee, state Rep. Alvin Holmes, talked to the media Monday before walking the contract to the Capitol to personally deliver it. Security told Holmes the governor was not available, although Holmes said he had been told he could meet with Riley.
Acting Finance Director Bill Newton then came out and, after a brief curt exchange with Holmes, took the contract from him.
While Holmes was ranting to the media about the situation outside of the office, Riley staffers invited the longtime legislator through security. They offered for him to meet with Riley, but Holmes said he was not coming in without the media.
Riley, a Republican, left through another door for a meeting without talking to Holmes, but his staff said he could meet with Holmes later in the afternoon.
Holmes, D-Montgomery, also released to the media the list of people paid through the contract. The state has already paid more than $5.5 million to the company through a contract that expired last month. The contract currently before Riley was an amendment to extend that agreement for two years and bring the total to $12.9 million.
The original contract was for $1.45 million.
The legislative panel approved the previous contracts.
Todd Stacy, press secretary for Riley, questioned why lawmakers approved the previous agreements, but are fighting the amendment.
"No one has ever called into question the product and the work that this company has done," he said. "In fact, by all accounts, they have performed exceptionally. ... If (Holmes) has a complaint about the work product, I haven't heard it."
Some of the documents released by Holmes on Monday show some people were paid up to $43,000 in a month and some of those same people received more than $20,000 a month for months at a time.
"There is no description of the work these individuals did for this money," Holmes said.
He also said the information does not include who the subcontractors paid so there is no indication of who all was receiving money through the contract.
Stacy said the finance department has turned over every document it has on the Paragon contract to the committee.
"The Department of Finance cannot produce a document out of thin air because Rep. Holmes wants it," he said.
One person who was paid through the contract was Sandra Porter, who was the administrative assistant to former Deputy Finance Director Andy Hornsby.
Stacy said Porter was paid through the contract and did not receive a separate salary from the state.
According to the documents, Porter was paid $50 an hour with totals of up to $6,680 a month. Her last check was for work in October 2008, which is when Hornsby retired from the finance department. Other people received as much as $220 an hour for consulting.
Holmes and members of his committee voted to issue subpoenas earlier this month to Newton and to Janet Lauderdale, the president of Paragon, after they felt they did not receive information they requested.
Newton and Lauderdale's attorney delivered documents to Holmes, but he said they raise more questions because there is not information on who was paid by the subcontractors.
Holmes and other members of the committee have expressed concerns about awarding a $13 million, no-bid computer consulting contract to a company with no Web site and no listed phone number while the company lists personal residences as its headquarters in Virginia and in a subdivision in east Montgomery.
Holmes said he has not accused anybody of wrongdoing.
Riley spokesmen have said Paragon personnel have worked for the state since the early 1990s, have institutional knowledge and are equipped to help the state revamp the computer system it uses for financial functions including payroll and purchasing.
Paragon has mapped out a blueprint to overhaul the computer system in the state and the amended contract would include money to follow through and to help the state prepare for any audit of the money it received as part of the federal stimulus package.