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Pricey printer not her type, Medico claims

Prothonatory says a printer, who is connected politically, is charging Luzerne County more than double than is necessary for services.

Times-Leader Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE - Luzerne County paid a politically connected printer nearly $1,300 last week for forms that would have cost $800 less from a competitor.

"I could get a computer here for that much," Prothonotary Carolee Medico said of the difference in printing costs.

The county Property and Supply office didn't shop around before it handed Mondlak Printery a contract in January to print 2,000 "disposition" forms used by court clerks who work in Medico's office.

Bids for other printing work, which Medico sought herself, suggest the county has been paying too much for years to Mondlak's Jenkins Township shop.

Her discovery came too late, however, to stop the latest order.
The check to pay for those 2,000 forms has already been mailed to Mondlak, even though the commissioners have yet to "ratify" the expense at a public meeting.

The money came out of $30,000 budgeted for materials and supplies in Medico's office this year. The commissioners cut it from $35,000 in December before Medico became the county's lone Republican row officer.

Her predecessor, Democrat Eugene Duffy, spent $38,021 supplies in 1997.
"First they cut me... and then they spend three times as much for paper," Medico said. "It really aggravates me because they're not spending the taxpayers' money wisely."

One of the proprietors of the print shop disputes the allegation that the county was over charged, saying the forms had to be specially ordered.
However, Medico said two other companies had no trouble beating its $1,295 price for the same forms.

State bidding law only requires the Property and Supply office to seek quotes from at least three vendors if an item is expected to cost more than $4,000.

Burke said quotes are occassionally sought for some items costing less than $4,000. But that's not true of printing costs.

Instead, the county "spreads around" about $250,000 in printing work yearly to a list of companies, Burke said. Contracts are normally handed to printers that did the same work previously.

Mondlak Printery received $15,585 worth of business from the county in 1996 and $16,604 last year.

The company is owned by Jerry and Ellen Doyle Mondlak. Mr. Mondlak has been the treasurer for the county Democratic party for a decade and the print shop did $15,548 worth of party business last year, county election records show.

Mrs. Mondlak was the endorsed Democratic candidate for Register of Wills last year. She lost in the May primary to incumbent Democrat Dorothy "Dottie" Stankovic, who made the printing work the county gives Mondlak a campaign issue.

Asked if politics played a factor in giving the contract for Medico's forms to Mondlak, Burke said, "Don't you think everybody in this county has political connections."

Mrs. Mondlak said, "I don't think that (politics) had anything to do with it at all."

She also said the carbonless four page form was pricy because county specifications required its white, blue, green and yellow pages to be in an order most printers don't stock.

Medico said she took that into account. She gave a copy of the same form to two other printers who do work for the county and then asked them to mail her written bids for printing 2,000 of them.

Design Systems Printing, Wilkes-Barre, bid $671 and Blasi Printing offered to do it for $492.

"Oh my God," Blasi sales manager Marilyn Ney replied when told Mondlak charged the county $1,295 for the same job. Ney also said her company's bid contained a profit margin.

Medico checked records and found large price differences for other printing work:

  • Mondlak charged Duffy $695 per box of 10,000 receipts last year. He bought two boxes. Blasi priced the same number and type of receipts at $168.

  • Mondlak charged Duffy $225 last year for 2,000 special green colored cards that indicate a civil court file is in use by a judge. Duffy paid $198 for the same amount in 1996. Blasi priced the cards at $82 per 2,000.

Saturday, April 18, 1998