Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Balk For "Screwie" - The Meat Is Out Of The Grinder

Rob Reiner’s last project, released September 15th – 'Everyone’s Hero' – where 'Meathead' takes on the challanging voice-over role of a baseball ... 'Screwie' ... you can not make this stuff up ... haaa, haaa, haaa, hoooaa, oh man! - Image Credit: Apple Trailers

A Balk For 'Screwie' - The Meat Is Out Of The Grinder

As mentioned here last spring in the run-up to the primary elections in California, Rob Reiner was under investigation for the probable illegal use of state collected monies in his pursuit of an initiative that he had held dear to his political future.

In posts here at MAXINE entitled "Hewitt's Pebble Now A Boulder", "Grinding Meathead", and "Grinding Meathead - Part Deux", it looked as though Rob Reiner might have some e'splainin' to do in his relationships and activities that surrounded his promotion of proposition 82 - Universal Pre-School for all children in California.

As a sitting Chairman of California Children and Families Commission, also known as the California First 5 Commission, Rob Reiner was entrusted with the management and use of approximately 300 million plus dollars of collected tax monies from cigarettes.

It now turns out, in the opinion of the audit commission set up to investigate the whole mess, the "California First 5 Commission" had lapses in the management of some of the contracts they had negotiated.

Excerpts from the Los Angeles Times –

Auditor reports contract lapses by Reiner panel
By Dan Morain, Times Staff Writer - 11:12 AM PST, October 31, 2006

SACRAMENTO -- A state commission chaired by Hollywood entertainer Rob Reiner
[ed. TV's "Meathead" in "All In The Family" and most recently voice of "Screwie", a baseball, in the cartoon feature "Everyone's Hero"] suffered from lapses in its contracting, failed to properly award millions of dollars in contracts and did not adequately justify many of its payments, according to a state audit released today.

The nonpartisan California Bureau of State Audits found that the California Children and Families Commission, also known as the California First 5 Commission, used tax money to overpay for some services and failed to follow state rules when it awarded some contracts.

"We found a number of problems with the way it awards and manages these contracts," the report said, referring to the tens of millions in advertising and public relations contracts awarded since the commission was created after voters approved Proposition 10 in 1998.

"As a result, the state commission paid for services it had not contracted for, effectively preventing that money from being used to further the other activities allowed by the contract, namely purchasing printed ad space or broadcast media time," the audit said.
"Our review determined that the state commission had clear legal authority to conduct its public advertising campaigns related to preschool," the auditors found.
The audit said the "content of these advertisements and their timing were consistent with applicable legal restrictions related to the use of public funds for political purposes and confirmed that the state commission did not contribute any of its public funds to campaign accounts used to support the various ballot measures."

The commission answered the auditors by saying it "is deeply committed to making itself a model for state contracting practices, and has already begun to implement new policies and practices and improve staff training."

They can say anything they want about me,” Reiner says of critics. “I’ll take the hits as long as I reach my goal.” Image Credit: Lori Shepler / LAT

Among its findings, the audit said the commission:

• Did not follow state policy when it used a competitive process to award three contracts valued at more than $47.7 million and failed to provide sufficient justification for awarding one $3 million contract and six amendments totaling $27.6 million using the noncompetitive process.

• Paid $1.2 million more than it should have for administrative overhead because it did not follow state policy that limits such payments.

• Paid invoices totaling $673,000 in 2002 and 2003 for fees and expenses of a contractor's employees. These payments violated the contract, "effectively preventing these funds from being used to further other activities that were allowable under the terms of the contract."

Such problems "caused the state commission to make some questionable payments to contractors for items such as laptop computers valued at $10,000, food catering costs and monthly parking fees," the audit said.

Read All>>

And this from the San Francisco Chronicle -

Audit largely clears panel founded by Rob Reiner
But some evidence of mismanagement of funds discovered
By Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The audit in large part clears the First 5 California Children and Families Commission, created by and formerly headed by Rob Reiner, of charges that it spent money on advertisements that were timed to help boost support for a Reiner-sponsored ballot measure that would have created universal preschool.

But the auditor found the commission improperly paid media consultants $673,000 and did not follow state law as to rewarding contracts.

"I'm definitely concerned about the $600,000, but in the bigger scheme of things, I'm relieved we didn't have mismanagement of funds for political purposes," said Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Los Feliz (Los Angeles County), who was one of the lawmakers who requested the audit.

Frommer expressed some relief, but the other lawmaker who had initiated the inquiry said that it showed a pattern of mismanagement.

"This is an agency that is unaccountable and has frankly run amok," said Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks (Sacramento County). "This may very well not have violated the law in regards to use of funds for political purposes, but it doesn't pass the smell test."

The First 5 California Children and Families Commission was created in 1998 by Proposition 10, a ballot measure Reiner helped create. The panel helps dole out money raised by a 50-cent tax on cigarettes to anti-smoking and early childhood education programs.

Reiner quit the commission in March after questions were raised about the appropriateness of his role, saying he did not want to detract from efforts to pass Proposition 82 in June. That measure would have taxed the state's highest wage earners to guarantee all California 4-year-olds a constitutional right to free preschool, but it was resoundingly defeated.

Under Prop. 10, the state commission is required to spend 6 percent of its funds on educational outreach. Between January 2000 and August 2005, the commission entered into seven contracts with four media and public relations firms.

Reference Here>>

I guess, now, it can be said that California only had the stomach for a "vegetarian meal". No meat here!

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