Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is Elihu Harris Corrupt?

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 10:46 AM

In case you missed it, the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune ran a great package of stories on Sunday about ethically questionable decisions made over the years by Peralta Community College Chancellor Elihu Harris. The main story focuses on a $940,000 no bid contract that Harris steered to one of his business partners without disclosing his ties to the contractor. Great reporting and great details by journalists Matt Krupnick and Thomas Peele. One of our favorite nuggets: Harris, the former two-term Oakland mayor, owns a Berkeley funeral home that doesn't pay its bills. Plus, Harris doesn't disclose the business on his statements of economic interests as required by law.

But that's not all. The papers also explore the lavish trips taken by top Peralta officials at taxpayer expense, secret pay raises that Harris awarded to his favorite employees, and details of Harris' eye-popping $300,000 salary. Another of our favorites: Peralta board member Marcie Hodge, who ran a campaign for city council in 2006, bragging about her efforts to cut wasteful spending, routinely charges personal expenses on her district-issued credit card. Take time out today and read these stories, if you haven't already. They're real eye openers.

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