Riley responds to "buffoonery" over contract
Gov. Bob Riley turned the attack over a multi-million-dollar consulting contract back on Democrats on Friday, saying they are gearing up for campaign season by attacking a company who has performed well for the state and criticizing decisions made by career state employees.
Riley, a Republican, said he and his advisers have discussed how "to counter the buffoonery" over the contract.
He said the administration will move forward on the contract and will fight the lawsuit filed on Thursday by the legislative contract review committee.
The administration and Democrats on the contract review committee are involved in an escalating battle over an amended contract that would pay Paragon Source LLC up to $12.9 million. The state has already paid the company more than $5 million of that amount for previous work.
On Friday, Riley was joined by about 20 people in his office including staff members, state officials involved in selecting Paragon, and Spud Seale, the attorney for Paragon and its president, Janet Lauderdale.
Seale said Paragon has performed well and it was shameful the state did not come to Lauderdale's defense sooner. Riley said he was probably correct.
Seale and Riley said no one has found anything wrong with the work performed by Paragon.
They said there is nothing wrong or sinister about the contract or the work being performed. Riley said he has never met Lauderdale, she has never hired a lobbyist, and he has never received a campaign contribution from her.
State Rep. Alvin Holmes, chairman of the contract review committee, and other Democratic members have expressed concerns about giving the large contract to a computer consulting company that does not have a Web site or a listed phone number and that lists personal residences as its headquarters. The finance department and Paragon have released documents to the committee in response to subpoenas, but Holmes and other members have said they want more information on the subcontractors who were paid through the contract and what work they were performing for the money.
Finance department officials approached Paragon and hired the company to work with the state to help create a blueprint to update the computer system used for financial functions such as payroll and purchasing. The amended contract, which the governor signed on Oct. 23 after the Democrats held it up for 45 days, would begin to move forward with updating a portion of the almost 20-year-old system.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen