It was kind of surprise! The letter was from the Rutherford Board of Education talking about "Technology Committee" and asking me to join and attend the first meeting.
How did they know that I am computer professional?
How many other people are invited?
Do they really want to use other's ideas and expertise to improve the technology education in Rutherford Schools?
I marked my calendar and made sure to attend this historical event.

We met at "Multi-Media Room" and sat at student's chairs. Seven to Nine other people attended and I think three of them were parents and the rest from the staff and teachers.

After a brief introduction, speaker defined the goals and outlined what may be discussed in this meeting and what may not!
"We are not going to discuss a Hardware Platform", speaker said.

I was surprised "again", why is he dictating us what to talk about? Why is he trying to stay away from any discussion related to hardware and equipment?

He continued with the news of purchasing 100 typing devices for students to practice keyboarding for $350.00 each. These typing devices are almost the size of a notebook computer, but unlike notebook computers, they have no floppy drive and no print capability.

At that time Toshiba Notebook Computers with Floppy Drive, had a market price of $100.00 and there was no customer for them. Computers without Hard Drive were becoming history. I simply knew that these devices are at least $250 overprice. But maybe that's just a mistake! Maybe he doesn't know about market value of computer products! after all he is just a teacher! He already asked us not to talk about the hardware and I don't want to embarrass him by creating the idea of possible mistake or abuse or corruption.

The meeting continued with some presentation of the equipment and what the students learn and ended with the idea of forming sub-committees.

I didn't want to continue with a committee who dictates what to talk about and may possibly want to use us just to give a democratic face to their decisions and plans. I also didn't want to be a member of a committee who has one speaker and ten listeners. So I didn't continue with them!

But shouldn't be any type of control on such purchases? Shouldn't we have a purchase committee formed by volunteers to monitor or watch or audit the financial transaction? If 400 over priced typing device is a $100,000 loss for Rutherford people, shouldn't they be concerned and get involved?

I certainly hope that my estimate is wrong or it has been just a simple mistake.
I also know that it is not easy to purchase overpriced items and get some "Cash Back Bonus" while hundreds of people may watch. It is really difficult! First you have to buy items that are not popular and nobody knows it's real price! Then you have to buy it from a remote location that makes it more difficult to trace! You must also make sure that the product has a high list price. So in case if you got in trouble, you can claim that your information source was the list price. It is so difficult that you have to be a Computer Wizard to handle that without being caught!

When the idea of closing three schools and building one was announced by Rutherford Board of Education and I noticed the objections of some people about the contractor who is selected for this plan, I simply decided to remind that there must be some control over the Board of Education Purchasing Decisions. A 23 million dollars job on a corrupted transaction can simply bring a profit of $7000,000 for a team of corrupted individuals.

I am not sure that how is it possible to monitor or audit all financial transactions of the Board of Education but I think that it is needed. It may be possible to form a purchasing committee to verify the prices and quality and quantity of purchased material or equipment. If you can help, please write to my attention and e-mail it to MHamzeh@Home.com.
Let discuss and find a solution.

Mohammad Hamzeh

 
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