Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Steele Puts Hold On Controversial Contract

From The Oklahoman ~ The multimillion-dollar deal for a new state juvenile detention center linked to a senator and lobbyist's romantic affair has been delayed again.

A planned signing this past Friday of a $10 million-a-year state contract for the juvenile center was called off at the last minute amid concerns from House Speaker Kris Steele.

Steele, R-Shawnee, said Tuesday he asked Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Gene Christian to delay the signing because he is concerned the contract may not fulfill what the Legislature wanted when it asked the agency to build a new juvenile center.

“I'm not accusing anybody of anything, but I do think it's important that I meet with Director Christian and the other interested parties to ensure the contract has been handled appropriately,” Steele said.

Steele said he plans to meet with Christian this week.

The contract has been dogged by criticism since it was revealed that Sen. Harry Coates, 60, and lobbyist Haley Atwood, 29, were having an extramarital affair while working to help clients of Atwood win the contract.

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