( – promoted by c rork)
Now that Merida says she’s (maybe?) giving the $8,000 she overspent back to the district, I think it’s worth looking at just what she was spending that money on.
I was pretty busy yesterday so I didn’t get a chance to look at the records and weigh in, but I got a chance to take a look this afternoon. It’s pretty astounding.
Beyond the absurd $4,000 that she spent eating out (for perspective, that $11 in meals a day…except that she was dropping $60 a meal at fancy places like Euclid Hall) Here’s a quick look at stuff that caught my eye:
As Ed News reported, Merida paid for a fax service at $9.95 a month. It’s fairly unclear why this was thought to be necessary, and whether she was receiving substantial faxes. Why? Well probably because on her website, she doesn’t list a fax number that constituents can contact her at.
So, what was she using this fax number for? Not to mention, why did she get the premium plan?
Also, what is ‘Avangate’ and why did she spend $34.95 with them? From what I can tell, it’s some sort software sales company? What did this have to with “community outreach”?
Further, she listed a number of other expenses I find suspicious. For instance, she billed the district for 2 separate charges to godaddy.com, and a charge to campaignmonitor.com, which does web marketing stuff. Given the proximity of these charges to her job, I think there’s reason to be concerned. Finally, she registered a for a Vimeo plus account for $59.95. It’s hard to tell why she is using public money for it, as it’s mostly being used to tout outside political groups or launch various attacks? And she definitely hasn’t gotten her (our) money’s worth – she isn’t doing anything on it that you can’t do on the free version…
Audible Audio Book Subscription:
Merida incurred charges for $14.95 every single month on the 20th of the month to “Audible NJ”, from November, 2010, through the end of this credit card report period that we have available (June). As was pointed out in the other thread, according to Audible’s website (audible.com), $14.95 is the same amount as a “gold” subscription to their audiobook service. It’s really unclear what Merida needed an audiobook subscription for that would be related to her job.
Barnes & Nobles Books:
Merida spent hundreds of dollars on books at Barnes and Nobles ($454.32, according to EdNews), including their online store. As another commenter mentioned, records of which books she bought online should still be available to her and she should disclose them to prove they were relevant to her position, as she claimed.
According to a report from the Denver Paper, she had a cellphone bill of $2,134.04. It seems to me that’s a little bigger than a 1 person standard plan annually? Sounds more like a small family plan or something like that? What kind of plan is/was she billing DPS for?
Additionally, it’s mentioned that she had a vonage land line installed. On her website contact page, she lists her cellphone number. If that’s the number she was using for constituent services (and billing the district for), then why did she need a separate Vonage land line (at the cost of $410.38)?
Flowers for Jeannie Kaplan’s “Bday”:
Ednews got this wrong, they misread her handwriting. It says flowers for “Kaplan bday”, not baby. But that raises further questions: why did we pay $61.54 for a floral arrangement for Jeannie Kaplan?
Merida appears to have bought a camera ($200, Anthony Camera) and made big payments to T-mobile ($205, for a new phone, apparently) and something called ‘Laptop Power’ ($105). Why is the district buying this stuff for her?
Wanton Fiscal Irresponsbility:
Merida racked up a lot of interest and late charges by carrying such a large balance on her credit card, which is further evidence of what many have suggested: she shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a budget. By the end of it, she’d racked up $62.74 in unnecessary interest fee charges and $30.05 in credit card fees (including late payment fees). That’s money that was just straight up wasted. She didn’t even get Wendy’s with it!
Denver Taxis and Car Rentals:
There are a number of charges on there that I thought were strange or curious for taxis and car rentals in Denver. One big reason they are strange is that they were juxtaposed with her charging the District for parking her car? I don’t know what the deal is with that because I don’t know what her car situation is but it seemed strange.
Anyway, these are a few of the things that I noticed with her credit card statements that seemed particularly shocking.
The whole Andrea Merida ride has been a massive distraction from the serious business of what the schools should being doing – educating our kids. It’s time for her to resign and put an end to this ugly soap opera. The fact that she got caught and is now giving back the money simply isn’t enough. She should never have been spending it on this stuff in the first place. It is common sense to know that you shouldn’t be billing the district for business expenses, your audible account, etc.