Monday, November 20, 2017

Porter leaving MDE

A longtime crony of the State Superintendent of Education is leaving the Mississippi Department of Education. Chief Information Officer Dr. John Q. Porter will resign his position at MDE on November 30. Contracts awarded to him and his associates have been the subject of withering criticism from the State Auditor and the PEER Committee.  The Associated Press reported:

Chief of Technology and District Transformation John Porter is leaving the department at the end of November for “personal reasons,” spokeswoman Jean Cook told The Associated Press on Friday. Cook said Porter’s departure had nothing to do with the contracting criticism.

State Superintendent Carey Wright has said she hired Blue Sky Innovative Solutions, a company owned by Porter, because she found the state department’s computing functions in disarray. Blue Sky was paid $99,000 in 2014 and $243,000 in 2015. State agencies at the time were supposed to take bids for service contracts worth more than $100,000, and take quotes from multiple vendors for contracts worth more than $50,000.

Porter once worked with Wright in a Maryland school system, as did another man who got computer work from the state Department of Education, Elton Stokes. Stokes and Data One IT, a company run by his wife, were paid $263,000 for data management work.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering and a legislative watchdog agency have questioned the multiple contracts signed with Porter, saying they may have been structured to avoid the bid threshold. Department officials have said the contracts were allowable because they were for different kinds of work. Pickering has said he believed the contracts were for “very much the same work.” Rest of article

Splitting contracts to evade bid laws is a crime under Mississippi state law.
JJ first broke the story about Dr. Porter's sweetheart deals in a May 2016 post.  JJ reported:

It appears Deputy State Superintendent Dr. John Q. Porter has fed quite well at the public trough over the last few years.  The State Board of Education hired Dr. Porter at a salary of $195,000 in May, 2015.  State Auditor Stacey Pickering told Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright the salary was illegal since it exceeded 150% of the Governor's salary.  However, Dr. Porter made a nice sum of money through no-bid contracts awarded behind closed doors before he was hired.

The State Board of Education hired Dr. Carey Wright in September, 2013. Dr. Porter followed her to Mississippi six months later.  However, he was not hired as a Deputy Superintendent until May 21, 2015.  Dr. Porter made his money the Mississippi way.   The Board  awarded several consulting contracts worth $293,404 to Dr. Porter and his company, Blue Sky Innovative Solutions, LLC.  The Board approved every contract in executive session.  The Board finally voted in executive session to hire Dr. Porter as the Deputy Superintendent at a salary of $195,000 - after Dr. Porter wrote the job notice and screened all applicants himself.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering is investigating how MDE contracts were awarded to Dr. Porter and other companies. 

Kingfish note: Hmmm..... sudden resignations during ongoing investigations.  Interesting. 


Anonymous said...

Wright plugged in her own man to carry her dirty water (i.e. watch the data streams) and now that someone supposedly cares about good government, the pressure is brought to bear on the guy managing the data stop to discovery: the flow of knowingly false data that leads to funding that puts them way out of compliance with the feds, and the state as well. One does have to ask along the way: If Pickering warned her....why wasn't there a correction? Is there any law enforcement happening at all? We effectively have a social worker in the AG's office.....So WHO exactly is in charge of accountability in the State of Mississippi?

Anonymous said...

I'll say this for Porter-- He made hay while the sun shined!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Making hay?

Someone should have warned him there was some old bob wire in the hay before he done hit it with the Mo-Co! Dun got that chit all wrapped up in the crimpers!

Anonymous said...

Same old, same old at MDE. Those of us who are long-time employees have seen this same game with different players for years. No integrity, no principles other than self advancement and self preservation. Our children suffer while fat cat PhDs with little common sense and no desire to hear the opinions of the educators they supervise continue to promote their progressive education ideas. We don't need more new and improved programs. We need to go back to basic curriculum and politically incorrect firm discipline. Our children deserve much better.

I know Dr. Porter. He and Crooked Carey Wright are cut from the same cloth. She needs the boot as well for 'personal' or whatever reasons. Let's see if the powers that be have the manhood to do what is best for our students.

Burke said...

Amen, 2:19. Trump is loathsome, and you won't find me carrying water for Betsy DeVos, but I would be heartened if the Department of Education were abolished, and state education department administrations cut back to the bone. Take the money and find or make good teachers. And firm discipline need not be politically incorrect. It mainly needs to be immediate.

Anonymous said...

He will not resign November 30. He has already resigned, EFFECTIVE November 30. But, he's damned lucky to not be in jail. He's got one helluva retirement ratholed though.

Anonymous said...

Here is how it went...... (Thank you KingFish and Mr. Pickering.).

If you want your house to look good (When foundations are giving away, walls are falling and roof is leaking..) you resort to "Paint the Walls". In software world, if you fail to deliver anything , then you can resort to revamp the Website. You will look good temporarily with a rotten foundation inside.

On November 9th, 2017, Porter rehearsed before his obedient IT department, a whole year plan to revamp the MDE Website. The jazzy presentation was another sleek attempt to the failing foundations such as Students Data processing, Enterprise student data management, Data quality and Security, Business Intelligence and data warehousing. Every foundation component is at a inferior stage than when he took over IT at MDE. So his last attempt to save his job is to resorting to Web Site revamping AKA "Paint the Walls". The presentation was in preparation for his last ditch attempt to present the board and stick around.

With his tricks and techniques, deeming the lights and modulating his voice Watch this board meeting presentation (Start at 2:39:26 and continue for a few minutes to see the magic of wall painting when everything else has failed!)

It was a good try but thanks to the relentless hammering of Our State Auditor Mr. Pickering, and Kingfish's acumanship in documenting this green team's misdeeds, Porter was unable to save his job this time. After the presentation, our Mississippi famous close door executive meeting took place. Next thing we know is that Porter has resigned from MDE for personal reason.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are stealing/embezzeling probably a few million but the real crime comes from the Hundreds of Millions of dollars in lost opportunity and the monetary impact of not doing their jobs effectively.

No different that hiring for any reason other than ability to do the job and bring benefit to an organization. A business hires someone who can't be fired but doesn't preform, they have to hire an underling to do that person's job. Repeat over and over and we wind up with people who don't even know they don't know what they don't know. Inefficient process repeated all across government and large business cost the public billions.

Chester Goode said...

Don't crooks typically leave town after they loot the saloon cash box, the bank vault and whatever the marshal had in the reward box? I bet he ain't paid the livery stable for boarding his mule either.

Follow Up said...

I wonder if anybody ever follows these types into retirement to see the cash flow. Condominiums, travel, luxury automobiles, new digs, jewelry,gold bathroom fixtures.

Anonymous said...

November 29, 2017

I just saw the story about JPS hiring the Bailey Group. I don't do Facebook and therefore can't comment on the Clarion Liar. Here goes...

Many employees at Bailey Education Group are just retired/fired/former bureaucrats from MDE. No new ideas; just educational bureaucratic retreads. The educational consulting business is a RACKET. When I worked at MDE years ago, a man retired and went into the MAEP consulting business. When he came back to visit, I told him I can and do give the school districts the same information he charges them to receive. He just put his finger to his lips and said, "Shhh!"

JPS needs real leadership. Someone with gonads. Big ones. Not politically correct. Not afraid of being called any name with an 'ist' behind it. THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!!!

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, has anything happened since the state auditor's office started looking into any of this?

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