MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

September 25, 2013

Officials must ensure no repeat

Muskogee County officials have averted facing a potential lawsuit over a phone contract questioned by the state auditor.

Those officials must work to ensure the same kind of mistake never happens again.

The contract with Global Tel*Link, which was executed by Sheriff Charles Pearson, provides collect calling services for Muskogee County/City Detention Facility inmates.

The sheriff’s office received 50 percent of the price for collect calls.

The contract also provided for payments made to a third-party vendor, Sydaptic, which upgraded security equipment in the jail.

The contract was alleged to have been defective on a number of fronts. The five-year contract:

• Included payment to a third-party vendor.

• Exceeded the one-year limit.

• Was signed without a competitive bidding process.

• Was not approved by county commissioners.

Global Tel*Link recently submitted a new contract that appears to have corrected all the defects in the prior contract.

Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore and county commissioners signed off on the contract.

That puts to rest the possibility of Global Tel*Link filing a lawsuit.

County officials should review all contract procedures and take steps to ensure this was a one-time problem for any county contract.

Moore said he would wait until the state auditor files a report to determine whether Pearson committed any kind of wrongdoing.

Pearson faces the possibility of being  removed from office if it appears he willfully broke state law.

It is important to note that the original contract created a revenue stream for the county and upgraded security equipment for the safety of inmates and employees.

The contract did not cost the county any funds.

Pearson has proven himself to be transparent about any alleged wrongdoing by anyone in his employ.

Pearson has proven himself to be a man of integrity and good character.

But he should know the rules if he is going to negotiate contracts on behalf of his office.

We bet Pearson will do everything he can to ensure a repeat does not occur. County officials should do the same.

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