From Russia, with love? HISD procurement chief tries to find Russian bride online for subordinate

James Bond

"I live in Russia and am simple woman with good heart." 

"I the young woman, me of 29 years, I the blonde live in Russia, city Vologda." 

"I hope that you that the man which are possible can not only my friend, but also grow fond of me." 

Earl Finley needed to get married, his boss thought. So Stephen Pottinger did what any caring boss would do: He asked Finley for his personal e-mail address -- and then, without telling Finley his plans, he went to online dating sites that specialize in connecting American men with Russian women, assumed Finley's identity, and communicated with lovely Russian ladies who then sent Finley rambling e-mails (and photos of themselves) about how they were lonely and were looking for a guy with a good heart like him.

Just one problem: Finley had a girlfriend. One more problem: He didn't care for his boss secretly trying to set him up with a Russian online dating service. Oh, and one more: Pottinger also played a practical joke on him in which he sent a subordinate to take Finley empty boxes, indicating Finley had been fired. 

Pottinger is head of procurement for HISD, the nation's seventh-largest school district, and Finley, his employee, is HISD's head of procurement for cafeteria services. As Ericka Mellon writes in the Houston Chronicle, Pottinger is also being criticized for allowing hundreds of thousands of dollars in supplies being allowed to languish in HISD's warehouse.

(Mellon writes that the stuff in the warehouse included $800,000 worth of hand sanitizer that was about to expire. Note all the teachers and parents commenting on her story to say their schools sure could have used it, though, as of this writing, I don't see any who clearly identify themselves as HISD teachers or parents. Note to self: Research how much hand sanitizer $800,000 will buy you. Given how much of the stuff you can buy in a jug at Sam's Club for $3, I am afraid to ask. Also: Research why hand sanitizer expires.)

As punishment, HISD made Pottinger write Finley an apology letter and take a management class.

Read the complaint letter, and the e-mails from the Russian ladies, below. (Click on the link to see it larger.) 

From Russia With Love: Houston ISD procurement chief tries to find mail-order bride for subordinate


Contact Jennifer Peebles at or 281-656-1681. 

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