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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Judge dismisses suit against Riley, computer consulting company


"We're going to continue to pursue this. This issue is not going away."
State Rep. Alvin Holmes



A circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit against Gov. Bob Riley and a computer consulting company on Wednesday.
The lawsuit, brought by the legislative contract review committee, did not seek damages, but sought to stop the multi-million-dollar contract with Paragon Source LLC.
Democrats have repeatedly voiced their concerns over Paragon, which was awarded a no-bid contract that could pay as much as $13 million over five years. They said they had concerns about giving such a large contract to a company with no Web site, no listed phone number and that listed its headquarters as personal residences.
State Rep. Alvin Holmes, chairman of the contract review committee, said he was very disappointed in the ruling, but said it was not based on the merits of the case. He said the judge ruled that the committee did not have legal standing to file the case.
"We're going to continue to pursue this. This issue is not going away," said Holmes, D-Montgomery. "The committee still has subpoena power."
He said options include appealing the ruling or refiling the lawsuit with a different plaintiff. Holmes said they are in the process of trying to find an individual to be the plaintiff.
He said there were also a handful of companies who were willing to testify in the case that they could have performed the work.
Holmes and the attorney for the committee argued that Paragon never should have received a "sole source" contract because other companies could perform the work. He said they will discuss the situation with those companies and see if they are willing to be plaintiffs.
A spokesman for the governor could not be reached immediately for comment.
Riley and Acting Finance Director Bill Newton have said no one has questioned the company's work and have said Paragon received the sole-source contract because personnel with the company have worked with the system since its inception. Paragon officials are mapping out a plan to help revamp the state's computer system that is used for financial functions such as payroll and purchasing.
The committee filed the lawsuit against Riley, Newton and top officials with Paragon.
Holmes said the Alabama constitution provides for a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances between the branches of government.
"The legislative branch has a right to check on the executive branch and how they're spending money," he said.
People should know, he said, what the executive branch is doing with the money and who is receiving it.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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