There's a new controversy brewing at the Northwest Indiana Educational Service Center (NWIESC) as a new scheme has surfaced, and a showdown of sorts is expected to take place during an executive board meeting that is scheduled for Wednesday, June 10th.
According to reports, Dr. Charles Costas, ESC Director, tendered his resignation at last month's meeting with the expectation of being rehired at the June meeting for the purpose of taking advantage of the system by collecting a pension as well as a salary from taxpayers. It appears that time is running out for Costas since the practice of double-dipping will be illegal in Indiana on July 1st.
The Indiana State Legislature enacted a law during the last legislative session that ties up a loophole that government employees and teachers have used in the past to engage in this controversial activity even though federal laws prohibit the practice.
Rumors are now circulating that some members of the NWIESC are having second thoughts about rehiring Costas since the new law reflects what apparently already exists at the federal level.
"You cannot do this and have either a handshake or a written agreement with your employer," commented Jeffrey Hutson, a spokesman for the state's Public Employee Retirement Fund, to a newspaper reporter.
The law does not affect public employees who legitimately retire and are later called back to work, Hutson said.
It appears that what Costas is asking the ESC board to do is outside the scope of the law, so it will be interesting to see how the board handles this matter.
In my opinion, it would not be a good move for the NWIESC board to make. The controversy over the handling of the illegal no-bid roofing scheme is still brewing as investigations continue, and according to previous board minutes, it's obvious to some that Dr. Costas played a role in the controversy.
He continued pushing the illegal, no-bid scheme to member schools even though he was well aware of the legal questions that had been raised by the State Board of Accounts and other government officials. Taxpayers recently discovered that ESC directors did it for the money as that shocking admission was discovered in previous NWIESC board minutes.
In addition, false statements about non-existent "two opinions" from the Attorney General also appeared in board minutes, which raises serious legal ethical questions about the management of the NWIESC.
The NWIESC cannot afford to receive another black eye. Dr. Costas should permanently retire because of the mismanagement that has occured within the executive structure of Indiana's nine Educational Service Centers. Larry Risk, ESC Director for the Wilson Education Center, was the first to go. Dr. Costas and others should retire as well. In any event, he definitely should not be allowed to double-dip by collecting two paychecks courtesy of Indiana taxpayers.
For more information on the double-dipping scheme, read this link from the Chicago Tribune.