City Desk

Gandhi Tells Rhee That $34M Surplus ‘Does Not Exist’

Yet another 180-degree twist in the teacher contract saga.

Two days after Chancellor Michelle Rhee told D.C. Council members that she would pay for a groundbreaking teacher contract, in part, with $34 million in surplus funds, Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi today posted a letter to Rhee telling her there is in fact no such surplus.

In fact, Gandhi asserts that there not only is no surplus, but Rhee did not consult with the CFO's office prior to announcing a contract agreement. In other words, Gandhi says that Rhee signed a deal she didn't know how to pay for.

Writes Gandhi: "[D]espite the fact that my office was neither consulted nor included in the negotiations regarding the WTU, my staff took the initiative and proactively engaged in the process of analyzing potential resources to support the proposed contract, should a final agreement between parties be reached."

Gandhi goes on to recount how George Dines, the acting DCPS financial officer, e-mailed Rhee a preliminary figure indicating a potential surplus. But that figure was never finalized.

"I was incredulous to learn in your...presentation to the Council on the contract, you asserted that a surplus is available to fun the proposed salary increases based on preliminary information," Gandhi writes. "I am at a loss to understand why you did not consult with me directly or with any of my DCPS financial staff about the viability of the proposed package prior to your public announcement."

There is a $34 million surplus in school-based underspending, he adds, but it is more than offset by overspending in the central office and other places. An overall surplus, he writes, "does not exist."

In closing, Gandhi offers support for the agency CFO on whose information Rhee relied.

"I want to reiterate my support for George Dines. I have the highest degree of confidence in his capabilities and appreciate his willingness to step in as Interim CFO at DCPS, especially in this challenging fiscal situation," Gandhi wrote.

By popping this surplus bubble, Gandhi turns a multifaceted political mess into a much simpler one. Where pressure was coming on two fronts—to rehire laid-off teachers or to press forward with the contract proposal—the issue is now simply: Where the contract money at?

Bottom line: Rhee messed with the savviest political player in town by blaming the surplus mess on Gandhi's shop. Now Dr. No is taking off the gloves. This may get good.

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  • Manor

    Interesting. This bit:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/2010/04/the_34_million_question.html

    shows emails between Rhee and Dines that seems to indicate she was really trying to figure out if the surplus was there. Now Gandhi is saying she didn't even consult Dines?

  • Political Observer

    Manor, you make a good point. This has now turned into a game of CYA instead of 3 card monty.

  • Anonymous

    "In fact, Gandhi asserts that there not only is no surplus, but Rhee did not consult with the CFO's office prior to announcing a contract agreement."

    "Gandhi goes on to recount how George Dines, the acting DCPS financial officer, e-mailed Rhee a preliminary figure indicating a potential surplus.

    "There is a $34 million surplus in school-based underspending, he adds..."

    "....especially in this challenging fiscal situation,' Gandhi wrote."

    AND I MIGHT ADD, GANDHI HELPED CREATE WITH HIS INCOMPETENCE!!

    Isn't it time to pop both the Rhee and Gandhi bubbles and bring some transparency, skill, and accountability to DC government?

  • Terry Miller

    The Fenty administration has already established a precedent of firing the CFO's for DCPS. The first one was fired because she tried to do her job, the second was fired for being too complicit. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  • Samantha

    Where is the real money hidden? Overspending and hidden spending is Rhee's game . Explain the Michael Moody Contract . It is supposed to be 2M and he works in DC 2 days a week , has catered meals for himself brought in , plagerizes real educator's writings and publishes a product with Michelle RHEEFORM ' endorsement while selling it toDCPS as STAFF DEVELOPMENT . This makes DCPR look like Sunday School .

  • DC Hoodrat

    Ghandi should have been FIRED EONS ago. When a Punjabi and a Ching-Chong can't do math you know the negroes that surround them are just abysmally STUPID.

  • noodlez

    DAMN HOODY YOU FINALLY SCORED!

  • Jesse Helms

    Are these city officials smoking crack? I don't know whom to believe.

  • hymesb

    This is what sucks about the 24 hour news cycle.

    Yesterday, everyone was sooooo willing to say Rhee fired those teachers even though she knew about a surplus.

    Now, there never was a surplus and Rhee made it up without talking to Ghandi.

    Tomorrow, they will find out that she did consult OCFO and they made an error.

    If I was a teacher, I would "choke the life out of" these obstructionist councilman and any Union Rep trying to delay my payday for their own political advancment.

    Gray would want to kill any deal that. was offered. And, Barry, should be put to sleep. Their obstructionism has been "the" main reason for council/mayoral tentions.

    The pots calling the kettles black.

  • Tom

    What the hell is going on with DC and it's financial management at its agencies?
    1. Based on bad data the CFO projected a $40M deficit in school based spending.
    2. Teachers fired, reducing the deficit of school based spending to balance with funds available.
    3. DCPS Central Offices, completely overspend their approved budget by $34M (WTF, how is this even possible without anyone knowing)
    4. Somebody figures out that the school based spending projections were completely off and says "Hey, we should have an extra $34M as a result of this accounting error"
    5. Rhee creates and agrees to a contract using this unvalidated surplus.

    Seriously, this chain of events is absurd. How can a division (central office) within an entire agency completely blow through their budget and spend an extra $34M? If everyone was under the impression that the RIF balanced the DCPS budget, how did they know they can spend more ($34M to be exact) than what they budgeted for ????

    This letter clears up nothing, it only makes the act more fraudulent. How can you overspend without getting approval from someone to do so?

  • proballdc

    Mayor to Rhee to Ghandi to Mayor: Who's on first?

    You can't trust any of these clowns. Why would Chancellor Rhee commit to a contract before "truthfully" knowing where the money was coming from? Why wasn't the CFO at the table during negotiations? If there is no money to back it up, how can the contract be valid. Unless, of course, it is the Chancellor's intent to commit the city, creating a dcps deficit, so that she can fire more teachers due to "spending pressures".

  • noodlez

    hymesb COMMENT=THE MONEY THAT ISNT THERE

    MR. D-BONE I GOT MY MONEY ON DR.NO.

    ILL TAKE A SAVVY VETERAN OVER A UNPROVEN ROOKIE ANYDAY IN ANY ARENA. ROOKIE RHEE IS SO GREEN AND ALSO SO FLAT THAT SHE COULD BE EASILY MISTAKEN FOR ONE OF FENTY'S SIGNS.

  • Manor

    "When a Punjabi and a Ching-Chong..." Thanks DC Hoodrat for putting into writing the racist idiocy of DC's hoodrats who are ensuring a permanent underclass for DC's AA's. May DC continue to gentrify and push you under an overpass somewhere.

  • Wedding Planner…

    I am telling you Rhee...with all of this flip-flopping I am getting nervous. You are seemingly on the verge of appearing like a woman who's about to cancel your wedding. What am I going to do with 12 hot pink bridesmaids dresses with chopstick accesories???

    Get yourself together...go get a facial and your feet and nails done...relax and release go amongst your people and live-it up. Come back to us refreshed and confident...we can all appreciate the new you...and will embrace the married you too.

    Texting; KJ get 2 MR she needs RR

  • Tom

    @hymesb, the money was there at the beginning of the year, and over the course of FY10 Central Operations spent it! When they fired those teachers, there was money to pay them.

    In the end the Mayor, CFO and Chancellor are all at fault for not knowing how to manage their money

  • Indeed

    This is an embarrassment. Incompetence of the highest order. Rhee has no idea what she's doing. For her and Clown Fenty, there are always excuses. They want to take responsibility when they think things are going right and shirk it when things aren't.

    @Manor, how about you and I meet at 16th and U this afternoon so that I can introduce your racist, ignorant ass to my foot. I will be sending you back to the redneck suburbs where you no doubt came from.

  • noodlez

    GREAT POINT Indeed!

    DAMN Manor YOU JUST GOT CALLED OUT!
    PUNKED TO THE N-TH DEGREE!

    Indeed GOT THE STICK ON HIS/HER SHOULDER NOW. I DARE YOU TO KNOCK IT OFF?

  • Manor

    What are noodlez and hoodrat and indeed in a little gang here? You boys miss the lockup and all that good loving you got there? Don't worry, I am sure you'll be back there soon enough. Or living with you mom or grandma, or whatever it is the dc thugs do with their short little pathetic lives between lock ups...

  • urbanette

    Nice work DeBonis, you called this one!

  • Indeed

    @Manor: Once a bitch, always a bitch. I notice that you didn't take interest in my little challenge. Tell you what, send me your address and I'll be happy to come over to your house. Not only will I kick your ass, but I will shove my ivy league degrees down your throat, you punk.

  • Manor

    Alright man, 16th and U, be there! Jets forever!! Seriously I'm confused, you called me a racist for calling hoodrat a racist? Did I miss something somewhere? Such a laugh...

  • Indeed

    Manor, putting down black people and calling for more gentrification makes you a racist punk, doesn't it? do you pay attention to what you write? Or maybe your klan hood gets in the way and you can't quite see the screen.

  • Typical DC BS

    @proballdc: "Who's on First". That's a great line.

  • tired

    Proballdc you are right, Fenty is the lowest form of life. He and Rhee destroyed lives and act as though nothing matters. Move Forward give me a damn break. How about we the citizens of the District of Columbia move forward by putting your ass out of office. They have been lying ever since. Tom again you right the money was there and they spent it but how can you overspend in the Central office. I am so sick of this non sense. First Fenty gives 700,000.00 to Skinner and that could have been use for teachers, fire, police and Recreations Centers oh I forgot. Fenty only go in that neighborhood when the shooting is over and a photo opt. is needed.

  • candycane1

    It deserves to be on the cover of the NY TIMES as the new witch cover. Same picture new article, title: The Magic Potion Had the Wrong Recipe!

  • Rick Mangus

    Which is it, do you have it or not?

  • DC Hoodrat

    Manor,

    Are you Fenty's bottom bitch? The fact of the matter is that both Rhee and Ghandi are complicit in probably firing a bunch of teachers who should have been given less arbitrary process for being RIFFED.

    As far as me being in a gang or being a thug, If you met me in person, you would be less inclined to be so free at expressing your racism.

    I stand by my original comment. A punjabi and a Ching-Chong fucked up on the math and if I were a DCPS teacher affect by last year's layoffs, I'd be suing the shit out of DC for hefty payout and I'd be more than willing to turn Ghandi into some Masala and Rhee into a bento box.

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