The grand jury has closed the books on the Cobb County, Georgia iBook-purchasing scandal.
For those of you not following along (or living here, like me), the story is that there was a huge outcry when Cobb County, a largely affluent Atlanta suburb, proposed to use over $100 million proceeds from a special one-time-only tax to purchase iBooks for students. Many parents and taxpayers railed against the plan, saying the tax was put before voters as a general-purpose technology upgrade and not as a seemingly risky laptop-per-child program. Other bitter recriminations included charges that the bidding process was unfairly steered in favor of Apple, the winning bidder.
After 17 months, the grand jury has decided not to file criminal charges against anyone in the case. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
The grand jurors said they did not find enough evidence to believe that anyone received or was offered bribes or kickbacks. They did not find evidence that reached the legal threshold to charge a coordinated conspiracy to restrain competition in favor of winning bidder, Apple Computer, or that anyone one lied or omitted material facts in the bidding process, according to the report.
Nonetheless, the 25 grand jurors were critical of the school district’s procurement procedures.
They cited failures in following district procedures, insufficient checks and balances, ambiguous rules, time pressures and hasty or poor thinking converging “to create an end result that raised questions and controversy.”
OK, cool. No bribery or kickbacks is good. The fiasco did damage some careers, as the superintendent and his top aide resigned. But at least there’s no evidence that Apple or the school district did anything crooked. Case closed.