The GUDE Management Group, LLC, the employer of Dr. Steve Salmon during the development of the Demographer’s Report recommending closure of 9 schools in the Huntsville City system, was named in a May 2010 RICO indictment in DeKalb County, Georgia.
Dr. Crawford Lewis, superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, and Ms. Pat Pope, COO, and others were indicted on four counts of violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The indictment, claims that Ms. Pope and Dr. Lewis solicited the following bribes from Samuel Gude, the owner of GUDE Management Group, in exchange for a construction contract in the system:
- $3,391.25 in Atlanta Falcons Tickets
- $18,622.00 in Final Four Tickets
- $920.00 in Fox Theatre Tickets, and
- $5,000.00 in tickets to the 2008 Atlanta Mayor’s Ball
Mr. Gude knew Ms. Pope from working together with her at another construction company, and once Gude won the contract, Pope approached him for the tickets listed above to keep the construction contract. Mr. Gude provided these tickets to Ms. Pope and Dr. Lewis.
Finally, when Ms. Pope solicited a free vacation for Superintendent Crawford Lewis to New York City, Mr. Gude declined and suggested that Ms. Pope contact another company.
The details of these solicitations are taken from the indictment on pages 56 and 57, and they represent only a small part of the total indictment. You can read more about these events at DeKalb County School Watch.
Dr. Steve Salmon, the original demographer hired by Huntsville City Schools, is a Senior Vice President, Director of Education of GUDE Management Group, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. In March 2011, Huntsville City Schools paid GUDE Management Group, LLC $37,669.76 via check number 150496 for “Other Prof Services.” In April 2011, the system paid GUDE Management Group, LLC $32,986.74 via check number 152236 again for “Other Prof Services.” In total during March and April Huntsville City Schools paid GUDE Management Group, LLC $70,656.50.
At the June 16th meeting, Dr. Richardson recommended and the board approved offering Dr. James Wilson, the founder of Education Planners, LLC a $500.00 per day contract to answer questions about the demographer’s report (which he did not, has he stated several times during the public hearings, actual create). The board offered no explanation for why the contract which had originally offered to GUDE Management Group, LLC, has now been switched to Dr. Wilson and Education Planners, LLC. I assume that the June Check Register will also show that Dr. Wilson has been paid for his services at the five public hearings. Neither GUDE nor Education Planners received a check in the month of May.
For the record, Dr. Steve Salmon is also listed as Senior Vice President, Director of Education at Education Planners, LLC. Much of the text describing Dr. Salmon’s role at Education Planners, LLC is exactly the same as the text describing Dr. Salmon’s role at GUDE Management Group, LLC.
As with much of the events surrounding the Demographer’s Recommendations, even the background of the players involved raises many questions. For example:
- Why was the contract for the demographer’s report moved from GUDE Management Group to Education Planners?
- Why did the board pay Dr. Salmon to produce the report, but have Dr. Wilson defend the report before the public?
- Exactly what level of involvement did Dr. Wilson have in the development of the report?
- How is Dr. Salmon able to perform as the Senior Vice President, Director of Education for both GUDE and Education Planners?
Hopefully when Dr. Robinson speaks tonight concerning the Schools Consolidations, she will put a halt to the discussion of closing schools until we receive answers to questions like these.
1. And why could Salmon not attend any of the five meetings?
2. And wouldn’t attending these meetings have been specified as part of the Salmon contract? And thus, if it were, a) then shouldn’t Salmon have been the one paying Wilson to substitute for him or b)shouldn’t Salmon return $3000 to the HCS [well, $73K, but…]? Wilson is the sole owner of the company Education Planners. When an employee fails to show up at McDonald’s, the manager finds himself flipping the burgers for no extra pay, and then he learns how to choose reliable employees, right?
3. Even after Wilson got his $3000, he still couldn’t give any specifics about what Salmon’s (his employee’s) assignment had been. One of his vague responses, however, was that Salmon was told to get to know the community, and he spent five months doing so. Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to get, if not a Huntsvillian then a North Alabamian, someone from South Central Tennessee — even a Central or South Alabamian rather than going to the Atlanta metro area?
There is, after all, a Master’s level program/graduate faculty at a local university: wouldn’t that have been the logical place to begin looking for help — although really, a five-member Board should have been able to knock out in an afternoon something better than that $73K hodge-podge cut-and-paste mess.
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