Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DeManding Answers

Who can miss the Gazette’s classified section and its pages and pages of home foreclosure notices. Particularly in these bleak economic climes, it’s remarkable that Tony “King of Pizza” Mand has managed to pull himself from the clutches of bankruptcy - once, twice, thrice - indeed, it is extraordinary…as in “out of the ordinary” and unusual. I’m not sure it’s something I would be bragging about in the paper.

If I were Queen of Pizza, this is where I would start bragging about the lucrative contracts that my company had bid on and won. “Well, ya know…when District #11 awarded us the contract to provide pizza for all of their schools, it was a real reversal of fortune…” I mean, I would be proud about it, and out loud about it – and though I don’t know the man, Mand does not strike me as the type that’s shy to hype.

Instead, Mand claims that he managed to avoid bankruptcy and improve his business standing – indeed, doing better than ever before - all, thanks to the addition of specialty sandwiches, and lower cheese prices and sheer will and determination. What a curious detail to leave out. Why?

Glenn Gustafson, D#11 CFO admits that a pizza arrangement with Jan dates back to 1999. Cheese prices began to rise in 2007, and reached a high in 2008. The accounts payable register reveals that at times, Jan received in excess of $2,000 weekly; and notice how the amounts spiked right before Christmas and immediately thereafter.

Here is what is truly alarming: the other morning, my two teenagers told me that sometime after the start of the ’08-09 school year, the 2% milk that came with their lunches was changed to skim milk; it has since been upped to 1%. I don't know about you, but I buy 2% milk only when whole milk is sold out; and if 1% or skim is the only thing available, I go to a different store. What's going on here?

What is the meaning of this, especially in light of the $700,000 paid to Sinton’s Dairy last year? Is it possible that astronomical figure was inflated due to cheese purchases? I know I said previously that I wasn’t really questioning the Sinton’s contract – but I am now.

If it was all above board, why didn’t Russell and Sabin get pizza, too? Why the absolutely-out-of-the-norm weekly payments? Again, why did Mand and the Tanners dissolve their pizza partnership just days after I first brought this matter to light?

My next post will detail Board policy on Officers and their functions - including accounting, check signing, cash handling, contract awards, etc. – all of which directly involve the Board President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer…and when I have finished, what will remain is certainly the biggest question of all:

What did Tami Hasling, Tom Strand, and John Gudvangen – the very same group who stayed mum when Charlie Bobbitt sought to place the subject of Board Member Conflicts of Interest on the agenda - know about this matter; indeed, what was the level of their participation in this matter?

I will focus more directly on each of these players within the week.

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