$150 for a Mop Bucket? AshBritt Accused of Overcharging County Too

You know that AshBritt audit that showed the Broward County School Distrist was overcharged some $765,000 after Hurricane Wilma? You know, the one that Supt. Jim Notter and the board members were outraged about because it told the truth about what was happening?

Well, a very similar circumstance with AshBritt and its now-defunct subcontractor C&B Services -- both of whom were represented by megalobbyist Ron Book -- occurred in the halls of Broward County government. One of the more glaring examples, according to a county document was AshBritt's charging the county $149 for a... mop bucket.

I obtained a memo sent in 2006 from Broward County Purchasing Director Dick Cummings (no, I didn't make that name up) regarding the Ashbritt-county problems. To read the memo, click  here. In it Cummings indicates that there were numerous irregularities with the work including:

The pricing appeared unreasonably high .... Facilities did receive second opinions from the FM Global representative and from the FEMA representative also advising the prices were excessive. These concerns were expressed to Ralph Dahlgren at Ashbritt who had C&B Services remove the 10% overhead and 10% profit.

Cummings also recounted a meeting where county staffers said AshBritt invoiced the county for overtime on days "they did not work eight hours," exaggerated the number of dehumidifiers used, charged excessive prices for materials, including a $96.75 for a 55-gallon trash can and $149 for a mop bucket. At the end of the meeting, AshBritt agreed to lop off another $68,000 off the bill to the county, Cummings wrote.  

Notter, for reasons unspecified, had the Ashbritt audit taken from tomorrow's school board agenda. But any further discussion should certainly include the fact that the county went through a similar, if less egregious, post-Wilma problem with the company.

And maybe this will wake up the board members -- I'm looking at you, Stephanie Kraft -- to the fact that they don't represent their campaign contributors and contractors at the board, but the taxpayers who fund the whole dirty operation. And the bad guys in this aren't the auditors, who are just, unlike the board, doing their jobs well.

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