|Remember those rainy-Saturday games of Monopoly when you were
a kid, the ones that seemed to last forever? That same game is being
played out again and again in our modern-day public school districts but now the stakes are real
and they are serious, high and important stakes involving our kids and our dollars. Today's
"Guys with Ties" don't wear Depression-era suits or monocles, but they're still trading
favors--and favoritism and self-dealing appear to be among the first order of business.
| H o w w e t a k e b a c k o u r c h i l d r e n ' s e d u c a t i o n: o n e p e r s o n , o n e q u e s t i o n , o n e s c h o o l a t a t i m e . Copyright 1999-2008 Peyton Wolcott
|Conservative Commentary - Modern Edu-Monopoly
|P E Y T O N W O L C O T T
How we take back our children's education:
one person, one question, one school at a time.
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|ATTENTION EDUCATORS AND ADMINISTRATORS:
Every attempt possible has been made to verify all sources and information. In the event you feel an error has been made, please contact us immediately. Thank you.
|Copyright 1999-2008 Peyton Wolcott
|Britain's King George
III once ruled our
country; despotism by
those with power does
not last. Public school
do well to remember
this lesson from history.
|LOCATION: Texas Association of School Boards/Texas
Association of School Administrators - Annual Convention
DATE: Oct. 6, 2006
EVENT: UBS Financial Services, Inc. reception
FACTS: There were four chairs at this table and a total of
five alcoholic beverages (green arrows), according to
There's more than one way to skin a cat--or to sell
financial services. UBS was not listed on either the 2005
or 2006 TASB/TASA official paid and registered exhibitor
list; instead, it appears to have bypassed the vendor hall in
favor of doing its selling at receptions such as the one
This is nothing against UBS; they're no doubt a fine
company, plus I'm a pro-business and free enterprise
kind of girl.
But is this the type of environment in which we want our
school superintendents and trustees to be making
important financial considerations involving taxpayer
|UBS FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.
BUSY IN TEXAS
On Sept. 21, 2006, the Schertz-Cibolo -Universal City ISD
school board approved the "adoption of the following list of
quali- fied brokers," which included "Richard Ebert UBS
Financial Services, Inc."
"Fitch Ratings assigns an 'AAA' rating to the $68,525,587
unlimited tax- adjustable rate and capital appreciation
refunding bonds, series 2005, of Fort Bend Independent
School District... based upon a guaranty by the Texas
Permanent School Fund....An underlying 'AA' rating is also
assigned to the bonds by Fitch, which are scheduled to
sell on April 14 via negotiation to a syndicate managed by
UBS Financial Services Inc." (SOURCE-- Business Wire)
Fitch assigns its 'AAA' initial rating to Sharyland ISD...
$40.0 million Unlimited Tax School Building Bonds,
Series 2006, scheduled to sell via negotiation to a
syndicate led by UBS Investment Bank on July 24, 2006.
The 'AAA' rating is based on the guaranty by the Texas
Permanent School Fund. (SOURCE-- FinanzNachrichten.de)
|SPECIAL BONUS ROUND: Friends, can you help me
identify the man and two women in this picture (helpfully
enlarged below) from TASA/TASB Oct. 2006?
|*Attendee List: 46h Annual TASB/TASA Convention
(October 6-8, 2006) - George R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, Texas: UBS Securities LLC Larry Groppel
Representative; UBS Securities LLC Manuel Donaldson
Representative; UBS Securities LLC George Pedraza
GROUND RULES: For this round, which we'll call "Guys with
Ties," we're starting with UBS Financial Services, a fine old firm,
simply because they're the hosts of the edu-reception at right at last
October's TASA/TASB convention in Houston and I'm looking for the
names of these partygoers.
LOGICAL FIRST PLAY: Determine which of UBS's employees might
have been present at the TASB/TASB convention.
FIRST ROUND: Oh, look. According to convention records* (see
"Attendee List" below right) UBS sent three of their employees.
SECOND ROUND: Oh, look, here's a familiar name: Larry Groppel
(top left), former Dallas ISD interim supe, also Mike Moses' friend.
HAIL MARY PLAY: How convenient for Mike Moses that following
his departure from Dallas ISD his friend Groppel was in place as
interim DISD supe when the KPMG audit ended! How lucky was
SPECIAL OUT-OF-STATE TRAVEL PASS: Oh, Moses' and
Groppel's former employee Ruben Bohuchot (second left) showed
up last October in Michigan where another former Dallas ISD
employee--DISD deputy supe William Coleman (third left) is now
employed as Detroit PS supe.
THE SURPRISE-TO-NO-ONE PLAY: Bohuchot presents his "I'm
friends with the supe" card in a bid for Detroit's business. Question
for the judges: Will it work again this round?
WATCH-PLAYERS-PAIR-OFF INTERLUDE: Can you see over
there, in a quiet corner of the playing field? That's Bohuchot teaming
up with Coleman's old friend Julius Bender (Coleman's other friend).
OOPS! WE FORGOT TO PICK OUR PLAYING PIECES! Here's
Ruben Bohuchot's below right, a yacht:
|(From top) Former
Dallas ISD interim
Groppel and his
former Dallas ISD
current Detroit PS
supe William F.
Detroit PS trustee
DPS supe David L.
Annnnd (drum roll
|COMMENTARY: Ruben Bohuchot - Mike
Moses - KPMG - and Larry Groppel
By Donna Garner (January 5, 2006)
To refresh everyone's memory:
o Mike Moses was the Dallas ISD superintendent from the
fall of 2000 to Aug. 1, 2004.
o The entire KPMG investigation into Dallas' technology
chief Ruben Bohuchot was done under Moses' watch.
o Moses' best friend and business manager was Larry
Groppel (who became the interim superintendent once
Moses resigned), and he was the one who signed off on
the deal with KPMG.
Why was the KPMG report not submitted to the Dallas ISD
school board in written form as agreed upon instead of
being submitted in oral form in executive session in March
2004? It is no wonder that Moses has refused to make
any comments to The Dallas Morning News since it is
obvious that he tried very hard to sweep the whole matter
under the proverbial "rug." It is also obvious that the
Dallas School board was so intimidated by Moses that
they let him get away with his "rug" strategy. How
convenient that Larry Groppel followed Moses for a few
months and had the opportunity to try to squelch the KPMG
Now that the truth is coming out thanks to the aggressive
probing by The Dallas Morning News, it is high time that
the finger of guilt and accountability should point to the
person who was at the center of control over the district--
Mike Moses. At least The Dallas Morning News
mentioned the dreaded "M" word in this article even though
directing no definite blame toward Moses. Fortunately for
us readers, we can put 2 + 2 together and come up with a
pretty good idea of where the blame really lies.
|Oh, look, more dots--Larry Groppel's
name comes up in other interesting
|MEMORY GAME BONUS
ROUND: When school
employees mix business with
pleasure.... Remember the two
yachts that DISD vendor Micro
System gave Bohuchot access to,
the "Sir Veza" and the "Sir Veza
II"? Spanish rusty? Cerveza
means beer. Get it, the SirVeza?
(PHOTO/Dallas Morning News)
|More about Larry Groppel's
Deputy Superintendent of
Business Services at Dallas ISD.
Succeeded Mike Moses as DISD
interim supe when Moses
resigned from DISD. Most
recentlyspotted selling to Texas
school districts via UBS Financial
Services, Inc. at TASB/TASB
convention in Houston.
|No, these folks above are not New Year's Eve
revelers--this photo was taken Friday, October 6, 2006 at
a party hosted by UBS Financial Services. Educated
guess: These folks are most likely public school
administrators or elected school board members.
|Many recent roads involving Texas public education and money
appear to lead back to former Texas Education Commissioner
(and former Dallas ISD supe), ERDI consultant Mike Moses.
Let's get out the game board and connect some dots . . . .
You've made it to the finish line!
We'll play again soon.
Connecting the Dots, "Guys with Ties" Round
By Peyton Wolcott - Copyright 2007 / First published Jan. 1, 2007 - Updated Jan. 21, 2008
|What else do
and William F.
Back in ERDI's hey-
day, Moses was an
More about ERDI
wasn't an ERDI
we have been able
to verify--but Ken
See how productive
connecting the dots
|Bad management, cronyism waste school
Five years later, Detroit schools still in disre-pair, learning hindered
By Melvin Claxton and Charles Hurt
The Detroit News (1999)
Dual interests: A citizens’ oversight committee, which was created to keep an eye on the bond money,
lacks an investigative arm, rarely meets and has no ethics policy.
One committee member, Julius Bender, took a consulting job with an architect on the bond program.
Bender, who has been on the committee since it was formed, negotiated a job with Ghafari
Associates, an architectural firm designing an addition for Spain Middle School. The job placed
him in the position of working for a company whose performance his committee
Ghafari’s contract didn’t cover Bender’s work, but he has pressured the district to pay him anyway,
according to several school officials and the construction program manager.
“We have had a number of calls from Julius, trying to get us to push through change orders so he could
get paid,” said Andrew McLemore Jr, vice-president with A-MAC Sales & Builders, the company
managing the bond program. “We told him his contract was with Ghafari, not with the district, and that
there was nothing we could do.”
Bender denied that he made the calls, and Ghafari would not comment. (EXCERPTED)
|Let's take a quick side detour, view Julius Bender's background
in Detroit Public Schools--his paying job with a district vendor
while serving on the DPS bond oversight committee:
be playing with
your money, your
|REFEREE CALLS TIME OUT:
Coleman may or may not be
supe past June 30! He may or
may not even really be in the
running for the permanent job!
His Detroit Public Schools web
page indicates none of this!
While not an unusual supe
strategy for boosting household
income, doing so while his own
job is on the line puts this one
well within the "Arlene-don't tell
us it's all about the kids-
Ackerman" category. While
community members insist
Deborah Bodrick is making
$140,000/year as a DPS
executive director, DPS officials
earlier this week denied that
amount--but were unable to
come up with another number.
(SOURCE--Detroit Free Press)
NOW FORMER DPS SUPE
DAVID SNEAD'S A DPS
PLAYER AGAIN, NOW HE'S
NOT: Although unhappy DPS
trustees bought out Snead's
contract two years early back in
1997 and sent him packing to
tiny Waterford "I'm here
because I can make a differ-
ence," Connecticut, somehow
he temporarily made it to the
current DPS short list for supe;
this week he's already off again.
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME OR
ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THAT
MATTER: Let DPS schools run
out of toilet paper then go on
The Today Show as Snead did
to try to explain yourself. This
|Five alcoholic beverages
(left) for three guests may
help UBS Financial Services
with their sales efforts, but
do Texas parents and
taxpayers want their
children's futures being
considered under such
|School board weighs ties to vendor
HP drops local tech company amid probe in Dallas, but HISD still eyes low bid
By ERICKA MELLON
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Jan. 7, 2007, 10:56PM
The Houston school board could decide this week whether to keep doing business with a local
technology company that has lost the confidence of a major computer supplier amid an ongoing ethics
probe in Dallas.
Houston-based Analytical Computer Services already has passed the first hurdle to upgrade HISD
campus technology in coming years — winning the district administration's nod for its low prices on
wiring, repairs and Hewlett-Packard supplies.
But the school board still must approve the deal, which has been in limbo since Hewlett-Packard told the
district last month it was banning Analytical Computer Services and another Houston-based entity, Micro
System Engineering, from selling its computers, servers and other products.
HP's letter to the Houston Independent School District did not offer a reason for severing ties. But the
decision raises questions about Analytical's ability to continue its decade-long relationship with the
school system, and it could end up costing the district money.
In addition to Analytical, five other companies have won the district's initial approval to vie for $69.4 million
worth of technology projects. So the district could turn to some of the other companies for HP products,
but Analytical offered the lowest price on most, according to bid documents.
And while Analytical would be able to perform general repair work without HP's approval, the school
board must decide whether it wants to give the company that opportunity. The board, as of last week,
planned to vote on the technology package Thursday.
TOWN PLAY: Just when you
think you're on top of the rules,
the game jumps back to Texas
from Michigan, but not to Dallas.
You've now landed in Houston
ISD, where the trustees are
currently deciding whether to do
business with vendor Micro
System. Rather than rearran-
ging their deck chairs on the
Titanic, might the trustees be
angling for their own yachts?
HISD PR GUY TERRY ABBOTT
SAYS "THERE HASN'T BEEN
ANY ALLEGED IMPROPRIETY
HERE AT ALL--NONE, ZERO":
So it must be true. Terry says
so. (See Houston Chronicle
article "School Board Weighs
Ties" by Ericka Mellon) below
|More about David Snead's career at DPS 1993-1997:
"Snead promoted and then bungled a $1.5 billion school bond for fixing the district's schools. The $1.5
billion figure was practically made up.
"He never identified specific projects that the 15-year bond issue would pay for.
"Millions of dollars in the bond's $89 million first phase were wasted because Snead's administra- tors
had to re-evaluate what work needed to be done.
"The district's financial officer, William Aldridge, declared: 'We literally found millions of dollars in
discrepancies.' No buildings were fixed before Snead left office.
"Snead ran back-to- back deficits in 1995 and 1996 of roughly $20 million each.
"The board ordered him to hire more competent and responsible financial staff. The board gave him an
unsatisfactory rating for 'fiscal integrity.' It asked New Detroit to review the district's finances and
administration. He pressed for 3 percent pay raises for administrators and teachers that the district
didn't have the ability to pay. A finance director from the prior administration recommended
budget-cutting proposals -- like merging its payroll and budget operations into one department -- that
Snead summarily dismissed.
"He hired purchasing director Venetia Adams, who lied extensively on her resume about her
qualifications. Administrators failed to double check it.
"In 1996, a state election official said Snead violated state law by using the district's tax-supported radio
station to promote a proposal to build a new Tiger Stadium.
"The district had to pay a $60,000 fine for violating a state law against having a district-paid car and
chauffeur. Snead was eventually able to persuade the state to stop fining the district by saying his
driver wasn't a chauffeur but a certified police officer needed for security." (SOURCE-- The Detroit News)
Frank H. Trifilio, the president and chief executive officer of
Analytical, said HP representatives told him the problem
was his connection to Micro System Enterprises, formerly
called Micro System Engineering.
He said an e-mail from Hewlett-Packard associates
accused him of violating HP's ethics rules.
"They quote some business code of ethics that they have
that includes bribery and kickbacks, and I've never done
any of that," Trifilio said in an interview.
Trifilio's company and Micro System Enterprises were
both part of a federal technology deal in the Dallas
Independent School District that sparked a public-
corruption investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's
The multimillion-dollar contract, which involved 12
companies, drew suspicion in 2005 amid reports that a
Dallas schools administrator accepted many free trips on
a luxury boat owned by Micro System, which was the lead
vendor in the deal.
The administrator resigned from the district. Frankie
Wong, the president and chief executive officer of Micro
System, denied any alleged wrongdoing in an e-mail to
the Houston Chronicle.
Trifilio said he is not a target of the federal probe and that
he recently testified before a Dallas grand jury about his
dealings with Wong.
Both men have long relationships with HISD, and they've
individually contributed thousands of dollars to school
board races in both cities.
In an interview, Trifilio downplayed his dealings with
Wong, but confirmed what state business records show:
Although the two men run competing companies,
Analytical and Micro System, they formed an arrangement
in 2004 and 2005 that gave Wong some control over rival
Documents from the Secretary of State's Office reveal that
at one point both Wong and Trifilio were managers of WT
Technology Investments L.L.C., a company intimately tied
to Analytical. In business lingo, WT was Analytical's
Close business ties
Put simply, in his role as manager, Wong would get a vote
on any major changes to Analytical, according to Trifilio's
chief financial officer, John Jancar. But Wong's
involvement ended up being on paper only, Jancar said,
and Trifilio filed papers with the state to end the
relationship in September 2005.
"It meant nothing in terms of his involvement in day-to-day
management of our company," Jancar said.
Wong said, via e-mail, that he "never had any ownership
interest in ACS."
Wong and Trifilio are co-owners in other businesses,
however. According to online state records, in May 2006,
they started Ascend GP LLC to manage school technology
projects. The two men also are directors of Houston-
based Acclaim Services Corp., records show.
Trifilio said Acclaim has been inactive for a while, and he
is trying to end his relationship with Ascend.
During his grand jury testimony in Dallas, Trifilio said he
tried to separate himself from Wong. He said he had
never entertained customers on Wong's boat, nor had he
ever seen it.
"I don't have a boat, by the way," Trifilio said. "I get seasick."
The Houston school board postponed voting on the
Analytical Computer Services bid at its Dec. 14 meeting.
That was the same day the district received the letter from
But even before then, the name of Trifilio's company
caught the attention of some board members, who
recognized it from the Dallas scandal.
"That name, everybody knows it," said HISD trustee Greg
Meyers. "It's probably human nature. You start questioning
— who were the other bidders? — and it's healthy to start
questioning to make sure we do have a process that we
trust when it comes to the bid process."
Terry Abbott, a spokesman for HISD, last week defended
the administration's decision to support Analytical
"There hasn't been any alleged impropriety here at all —
none, zero," he said. "It doesn't connect to Houston in any
Analytical Computer Services has been doing business
with HISD, the state's largest district, for about a decade,
Trifilio said. The upcoming board vote would allow that
association to continue through at least June 2008.
The company was one of several that recently submitted
proposals, through the district's competitive bidding
process, to supply technology equipment and perform
repairs. Six companies have earned initial approval from
the district's administration, but the school board has yet
to sign off.
Besides Analytical, the successful bidders are NetSync
Network Solutions, Tech Depot, xNet Systems, AT&T
DataComm and Troxell Communications.
The school board's approval would not guarantee
business to any of the companies but would make them
eligible vendors. Much of the money for the projects would
come through the federal E-rate technology program.
Several HISD board members have benefited from
Analytical's desire to work for the district; none has been
accused of illegal activity. According to campaign finance
documents filed since 2003, Trifilio has donated $5,000 to
Kevin Hoffman, $2,000 each to Manuel Rodríguez and
Larry Marshall, and $1,000 to Diana Dávila.
Trifilio said he donated money to the board members out
of "like" for them.
"They have no power to give me contracts," he said.
While board members have final approval over contracts,
a committee of district employees is charged with formally
evaluating vendors' proposals and making
recommendations to the board.
Dávila, the board president, said she was not concerned
about awarding a contract to Analytical, though she
wanted to confirm the company was no longer connected
"Are they really separate?" she asked.
HP spokesman Mark Lewis would not disclose why the
company is refusing to do business with Analytical and
Micro System, but he said the termination, effective Friday,
is not unusual.
Lewis also said HISD should have no problem finding
another vendor to sell HP products. The company does
not typically sell directly to school districts, but it has about
20,000 authorized resellers in the country, he said.
|Good time to view a player who came and went
quickly--while her husband was Dallas ISD interim:
Kathy Groppel, a Dallas ISD "itinerant teacher."
Useful also to review her Procurement Card
charges during her brief employment at DISD.
|Nov. 12, 2008 UPDATE: Ruben Bohuchot sentenced to 132 months in prison.