Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Calling Out the Con-Sultans

Brian Kisida of the Mid-Riffs blog has a good shot and clean kill on the waste of money on high-dollar, no-bid consulting contracts to out-of-state consultants. His immediate target was the Fayetteville School District for a $36,000 focus group experience much like an earlier one done for the Rogers School District. The strength of the piece is that it goes beyond the blog's usual carping about all things related to public education to get at the bigger picture of waste.

One wonders what those of us here in Northwest Arkansas have done to deserve so much attention from charlatans lately. …The latest sum of money the community will be parting with–$36,000 to be exact–is going to pay Phi Delta Kappa for conducting a curriculum audit of the Fayetteville School District. Like Eva Klein & Associates did for Fayetteville (for $150,000), Phi Delta Kappa came into town for a few days and held focus groups with community members to hear their ideas. ...

I don’t know exactly why organizations pay money to outside consultants, like when the city paid Eva Klein & Associates to tell us that the University was one of our strengths, and that the perception that Fayetteville was anti-business was one of our weaknesses. Don’t we already elect and pay people to think about these things and have a vision for what we need to do? So why are they sub-contracting out their duties?
Good questions, we think, but maybe that's because we've been saying the same thing for years. The Eva Klein deal was just the worst of the lot, but everyone knew that from the start. It frittered away more than four times the amount of the school district's contract, and the local media treated that publicly-financed campaign stunt like it was something legit.

Quick, without peeking, can you name one single thing that the City got from Eva Klein that we didn't already know? Didn't think so. But, maybe the City learned one thing from that slick squandering, since the new administration seems to have sharply curtailed such foolishness.


  1. I think sometimes that consultants can bring expertise and perspective to a problem that elected leaders might not have, but we have a wealth of talent and intellectual capital right here in Fayetteville. The problems come with no bid contracts and with shipping our tax dollars out of the local economy.

    Dan Coody wasted more than $4 million on consultants to buy cover and contacts for himself. How much of the $63 million sewer cost overrun that was a result of his mismanagement or his hired consultants in charge we will never know.

  2. .

    Do y'all, in addition to padding the pockets of the less useful members of urban elites, find money to ship over to your local Cowbirds for "economic development?"

    Just wonderin over here in Chickenopolis. We have a practice which taxes from the po and gives to the rich cowbirds. The rich cowbirds in turn send MoMoney to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to run ads telling po folks how awful socialized medicine will be for them.

    Quite a racket, eh. In behavioral dynamics it's called making the victim go fetch the object of his/her torture (daddy makes you get the belt for your beating).


  3. Aside from the fact that there is an entire freaking industry out there that City-types feel they must support, there is also the need for alder-folk to distance themselves from personal responsibility for their decisions.
    Some might say that impact fees could not have happened at all without the consults.
    My personal favorite is the $100k spent by Coody & Co. to *educate* the popul-us about the need for a $200m sewer plant. Unconstitutional of course, but who cares?

  4. Thanks for the mention, Jonah. You may also like my current post, judging from a picture of one Mike Anderson we both seem to have an affinity for.