New York City has a fresh controversy involving employee screening…or, rather, the lack of them. It involves a man named Nicholas Analitis, a contractor who has landed literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of contracts with the Parks Department. These contracts included work repairing the Coney Island boardwalk and work at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.
The problem begins with the fact that Analitis is an ex-con who had served three years in prison for cheating banks and writing bad checks. Right after he got out of prison in 2010, he formed his own company and filed the proper new business paperwork, including filling out the very detailed Vendex questionnaire as required by the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. The purpose of the Vendex questionnaire is to keep businesses linked to organized crime and criminals in general from landing contract work on projects funded by taxpayers.
There’s a loophole, however. If the contract is worth less than $100,000, there is no independent background check done on the contractor. All is dependent on the contractor’s honesty in filling out the above mentioned Vendex questionnaire.
And guess what?
Analitis did not mention his prison time or his fraud conviction on the questionnaire, so he was soon hired to do contract work on the sites mentioned above. He now stands accused of paying his workers with phony checks…and cheating them out of tens of thousands of dollars.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg contends that the city has so many contracts that “it would cost us a fortune to have an investigator every time.” He added “Yes, people will get contracts you wish they didn’t, but the cost of every kind of investigation or regulation is substantial. And eventually, you’re spending all your money on regulation.”
Again, it all comes down to money. When the money is not there to perform the background checks, employers and businesses hiring contractors will take risks. As evidenced here, there are people keeping an eye on loopholes in the system and they’re ready to take advantage of them…and in these cases it involves basically stealing taxpayers’ money.