Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez has won a George Polk Award for his columns in the New York Daily News exposing the scandal behind Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to create a new computerized payroll system called CityTime. Gonzalez’s reporting helped lead to the federal indictment of four consultants and two associates on charges that they orchestrated a fraud that cost city taxpayers more than $80 million. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Juan, congratulations for your George Polk Award. It’s your second George Polk Award, one of the most prestigious awards in journalism, for breaking the story right open here in New York of CityTime.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, I was quite surprised myself, but it was the biggest scandal that has occurred in the Bloomberg administration now in his nine years, I think it is now, that he’s been mayor. And it did involve massive fraud that was with city consultants, computer consultants. And as I told the Mayor’s spokesman who congratulated me yesterday, I said, "You know what? I’m waiting for the Mayor to thank me for helping the city recoup $27 million," which is what federal prosecutors so far have seized in the assets of the criminals that were involved in the stealing of the money. They’ve found $27 million in cash of the dummy companies where they were laundering money that they were robbing from the city in this massive computer program, which, interestingly enough, was supposed to be checking on city workers to make sure that their hours, the hours that they work, were they appropriate. It was a time keeping and payroll system. And it ballooned from an initial $60 million to more than $700 million in costs, and it’s still not completed after 10 years. It became a huge trough for highly paid computer consultants. At one point I found that there were over 200 consultants being paid an average of $400,000 a year to work on the project, some $560,000, $600,000 a year, to work on a project that has taken 10 years and it’s still not completed.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll link at democracynow.org to all the pieces that you did to break this story open. [1/13/10, 2/12/10, 3/19/10, 3/26/10, 6/4/10, 8/13/10, 9/29/10, 10/13/10, 12/16/10, 12/17/10, 12/21/10]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Thank you.