New License Commissioner Wants to Dump Hastie “Whistle Blower”

The independent computer contractor who went to the FBI and sparked the Kim Hastie corruption trial could now be losing his last work with the county.

Victor Crawford and he has worked for various county agencies for more than two decades. That run will end soon, however, if new License Commissioner Nick Matranga has his way. Matranga went to the County Commission Thursday asking to dump Crawford and his APL Software company and replace him with a less expensive firm out of Birmingham.

“If we save $600,000 in three years, that’s what we should be doing,” said Matranga.

During a twenty minute question and answer session with the Commission, Crawford’s name was never mentioned, nor was his involvement in the corruption trial of former License Commissioner Kim Hastie.

Crawford was the government’s key witness, claiming Hastie pressured him for employee gifts and campaign contributions. Hastie was acquitted in June of all felony charges. She became became Revenue Commissioner this fall, and Matranga was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley as the new license commissioner.

Matranga says Crawford’s actions against Hastie, though, have nothing to do with his move to get rid of him.

“No that’s not the issue,” Matranga said. “The issue is the functionality within the organization and is it working?

Matranga says Crawford’s system doesn’t work well , is too expensive, and is dependent on one person, namely Crawford to maintain.

“If he gets hurt, killed, sick, the whole system shuts down,” Matranga said. “Everything is in that person’s head.”

According to the County, it has paid APL Software $6,831,666 since October 1, 2003. Since 2010, Crawford’s only County work has been for the License Commission. During Hastie’s trial he admitted once over-billing County Public Works by $82,000 – a figure he paid back. He also testified that while he pays his assistant $25 per hour for work at the License Commission, he charges the County $75 per hour.

Thursday, County Commission President Jerry Carl pressed Matranga hard on his desire to drop Crawford.  Carl defended the quality of Crawford’s work, as did Commissioner Merceria Ludgood.

At this point only Commissioner Connie Hudson appears certain to vote to remove Crawford when a final vote is taken Monday.

“I certainly support saving money,” said Hudson.

Representatives from Inginuety, the company Matranga wants to hire, told the Commissioners Thursday that their company is currently working with the license commission offices in a dozen Alabama counties, including Montgomery and Shelby.

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