PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK) - The Phoenix City Manager has confirmed that embattled ASU professor Matthew Whitaker is withdrawing from a $268,000 contract to teach cultural diversity to police officers.
In May, the Phoenix City Council approved a contract for Whitaker's consulting firm, The Whitaker Group, to provide "cultural consciousness training" for the Phoenix Police Department.
But Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio had been urging the Phoenix City Manager to cancel Whitaker's contract.
"The City of Phoenix Police Department rushed through this sole bid proposal for the police department. It was done with barely 24 hours notice," said DiCiccio.
According to video archives from the May 13 meeting, multiple council members were surprised when city officials mentioned that Whitaker was already performing training before the contract was finalized.
"I think we're all surprised to know he's already working. If there are already issues that are going to surface, we kind of need to know he's already working for us," said Councilman Jim Waring (District 2) during the May 13th meeting.
The issues to which Waring is referring are allegations of plagiarism in Whitaker's latest book, "Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama."
ASU demoted Whitaker and reduced his total pay by $20,000 after investigating the allegations. Whitaker released a statement to his ASU colleagues, apologizing.
That statement reads, in part:
"I did not purport to write original history and I drew upon established sources. I did intend to give full credit to all sources. But my critics have revealed numerous mistakes that I made. It is painful to recognize that I was so careless as to fail to properly paraphrase and cite sources, despite my reverence and respect for the work of others in the field."
Phoenix City Councilman, Sal DiCiccio, has released the following statement:
"This sole source bid contract should not have happened; putting over quarter of a million dollars into the hands of one person without competition. I have relayed my direction to the City Manager that going forward, the City of Phoenix must use a transparent and competitive open bid process. This is fair to the organizations that want to do business and with the city and results in the best value for the tax payer dollar."
Statement from Phoenix City Manager on Whitaker Group Contract:
"Since late Friday, city management has been assessing contractual obligations with the Whitaker Group, L.L.C., and gathering facts after details about discipline for plagiarism were released by ASU regarding Dr. Matthew Whitaker. This afternoon, Dr. Whitaker notified the city his company is terminating its contract and will not conduct specialized training for the police department that focuses on cultural and community awareness. We have accepted this cancellation.
I fully support Police Chief Yahner’s commitment to implement this critical training for the police department. Our mission remains the same: we will continue to provide cultural awareness education for police officers in an effort to strengthen the relationship between the police and the community. Law enforcement across the country faces more challenges than ever before and this vital training is an opportunity to build a deeper relationship between residents and the men and women of our police department.
A new curriculum provider has not been determined. During the next few weeks, we will make a thorough and thoughtful decision on who will conduct the training for this vital program."
Click here to view the cancellation letter from Whitaker
---BREAKING: Phoenix City Manager confirms ASU prof Matthew Whitaker withdrawing from $268K contract amid another plagiarism scandal.— Dennis Welch (@dennis_welch) July 14, 2015