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Judge sides with prison system in bid battle

A state hearing officer has ruled in favor of the Department of Corrections in a controversy involving an $80-million contract to provide mental health to South Florida inmates. Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Hood's 39-page decision concluded that the losing bidder, MHM Correctional Services, failed to prove that the prison system violated the law in awarding a five-year-contract to a rival, Correctional Medical Services.

The decision was a setback to MHM and its legal team at Foley & Lardner, led by Chris Kise, a former legal advisor to Gov. Charlie Crist. "I am saddened, as costs will go up and quality of care will go down, but not entirely surprised by the order as the judge does not appear to get it," Kise said in an e-mail message to The News Service of Florida.

Kise's administrative challenge included explosive allegations that prison officials negotiated in secret with CMS in violation of the public records laws that his ex-boss, Crist, has championed as governor.

"MHM has not met its burden of persuasion in this case," Judge Hood wrote. In addition, she concluded, MHM failed to prove that its proposal met the state's criteria for financial viability (The prison system had rejected MHM's proposal on financial grounds).

-- Steve Bousquet


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Not surprising, given Suzanne Hood's track record.


I love how our administrative law judges typically (almost always) go along with the state agencies.

This happens for a couple of reasons: 1) fear of black-balling from the Governor's office, and 2) concern about never getting hired by an agency, where most of the Tallahassee jobs are.

This one should be appealed. Otherwise, the system just protects the agencies who believe they can do what they want, the way the want, whenever they want (with our taxpayer money), and without any significant repercussions.

If the ordinary taxpayers knew what the mandarins who run the state bureaucracies actually do (and get away with), there'd be great demand for tar and feathers.

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