Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gifford Miller takes another rap as audit slams contracts

Saturday, September 22nd 2007, Daily News

The City Council played fast and loose in awarding $1.67 million in printing work under former Speaker Gifford Miller, a city audit charged yesterday.

The report said competitive bidding requirements were skirted by splitting big contracts into several smaller ones that didn't reach the $5,000 bidding threshold.

The few times bids were requested, affiliated companies were allowed to submit rival bids - raising the prospect of price fixing, the audit said.

The findings by city Controller William Thompson rub salt into old wounds for Miller, who left the Council at the end of 2005 because of term limits - just three months after he finished fourth in the Democratic primary for mayor.

Although the audit doesn't fault Miller individually, it focuses on the blizzard of constituent mailings that he had authorized back in August 2005.

Initially, his office had reported mailing only 100,000 flyers, which featured Miller and touted the Council's budget positions, at a cost of $37,000. But a few days later, Miller aides admitted 5.5 million flyers had been mailed at a cost of $1.6 million.

By "intentionally splitting these printing purchases the Council was disregarding its responsibilities and neglecting its obligation to the City of New York," the audit concluded.

Miller, 38, now a business consultant, did not return a call for comment.

Thompson spokesman Jeff Simmons said the audit found no criminality.

Frank Lombardi

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