What if they gave a hearing and nobody came?
That was the general theme of yesterday's Assembly hearings on the Race to the Top funding bungle. Former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, as well as several members of Gov. Chris Christie's administration, weren't there. The facts seem pretty much established already - Schundler mistakenly changed the figures to reflect the wrong budget year. The rules of the grant application meant the paperwork couldn't have been changed at the last minute anyway, even if Schundler had known about the error and had the figures onhand during the federal presentation process. Which he didn't.
The hearings were, of course, a Democratic attempt to keep this issue going and further embarrass Christie. And Christie's rollout of a hazy plan of ethics reform Monday was politics as well: Trying to deflect attention from the biggest embarrassment of his administration to date.
But in this whole, dull, politics-as-usual scenario, one gem emerged: A Newark school official who was helping out with the application detected the error and told the state's high-paid consultant on the grant, Wireless Generation, about it days before the state was scheduled to make its presentation in Washington. The consultant said the application was
time-stamped" and couldn't be changed.
Maybe. But why didn't that high-paid, no-bid consultant at least inform Schundler, so he didn't look so flummoxed in Washington?
And why didn't that high-paid, no-bid consultant catch the error on its own?
Wireless lawyers didn't testify.
But at least they came to the hearing