|Commissioner Warren Judge presents a Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting (CAFR) award to Assistant to the County Manager/Finance Director David Clawson and Assistant Finance Officer Sally Defosse at the November 1, 2010 board meeting|
First, during its October 18th meeting, the board adopted a "code of ethics" that calls for "integrity and the avoidance of improprieties by commissioners in the performance of their duties. Second, on November 1st the board presented an annual CAFR award to the county finance department for excellence in financial reporting for the 20th time in 20 years.
Recent events surrounding the filing of a July travel expense report by Commissioner Johnson and a lack of proper response from the board and the finance office have cast a dark cloud over both events.
The "ethics" matter needs no further explanation, as evidenced by news reports and data already presented on this blog.
This writer considers the CAFR award to be rather dubious and has said so on many occasions. To purchase the award once or twice might be OK, but to spend taxpayer money, into the thousands, for 20 years running, simply to have a plaque to place on the wall is just foolish. You can read below what citizens of Ramsey County, MN think about the award. They echo points, this writer has made in the past.
Now, with another award in hand, EOD must ask the county finance office why they signed off on Commissioner Johnson's travel report, knowing full well it did not meet county travel policy guidelines or responsible accounting criteria. And, this is not the first time in recent weeks the finance office has stumped their toe in the performance of its duties.
Two months ago, Clawson appeared before the board asking for permission to make transfers within the capital improvements budget for funds allocated to the school system. When asked by members of the board what gave rise to the request, Clawson appeared to be embarrassed to tell them he didn't know.
The matter was tabled to give him time to find out. To date, that matter has not become before the board again. Afterwards, an official with the school system told EOD Clawson had hoped his "request" would have been included in the commissioners "consent agenda", which is that portion of the regular agenda considered to be mundane, and not normally in need of discussion. Budget amendments, in the opinion of EOD, should never be included in the consent agenda. Unfortunately, EOD has seen them in there before.
And, then, there was the time a couple of years ago, when Clawson stood in the commissioners' meeting and verbally accused the board of education of financial fraud; an act for which he would later apologize.
In closing, EOD must ask the county manager's office, county finance office and county commissioners why the public should trust any of them at this point in time. (click on the article below for larger view)