I have always enjoyed the fact that since I write a social and political commentary I have the liberty of waiting a week to cover a story, rather than shooting from the hip based on someone's whim. I always operate better when I am providing commentary before or following events, rather than reporting on the fly. I have three months worth of material and events to cover in review at a minimum, to get caught back up for the new year.
We will start with the more recent events on the County Council and then move to an ongoing scandal with the City Administration versus City Council and the State Board of Accounts.
COUNTY COUNCIL RENEGES ON PAY CUTS FOR COMMISSIONERS
In County government we had several seats up for review mainly the 1st District Commissioner and all three At Large County Council Seats in last years General Election. There were other offices up as well but they are the main players in the latest news coming from The City County Building. Unfortunately neither of the two Democratic candidates for the three County Council At Large were chosen by the voters and the Commissioners is still a Republican stronghold, which makes the events of the last month even more amazing.
In the middle of last month, rather than accepting the proposed pay increase, County Council voted 5-0 with 2 abstaining to reduce the Commissioners pay from $65,000.00 to $35,000.00 as of the 1st of July 2009. The idea was to force the Commissioners to rely on a Chief Of Staff or County Manager to direct daily operations on the Commissioners behalf, in order to prepare for further implementation of the Commission on Local Government Report Plan of two years ago by the General Assembly.
This actually is a prime example of bitch slap politics in our County Government. Unfortunately in a show of prime culpability in only having a two party system present in the County on New Years Eve during an emergency meeting the Council rescinded with 5-0 with 2 members not present the change. And now even with all the grandstanding by Council President Paul Moss and others, we are back to politics as usual in Allen County.
What is even more priceless is shortly after all these events unfolded we had two County Council Members, both Republicans, resign: Cal Miller, in the 4th District; followed by Paula Hughes, in the 2nd District. Miller and Hughes had two years remaining in their current term and will be replaced by a Party Caucus later this month.
UPDATE => Mitch Harper @ Fort Wayne Observed:
CAL MILLER was replaced by Larry Brown in caucus voting, he will complete the last two years of term and
PAULA HUGHES didn't get the job with State Dept. of Local Gov. Finance, so she will remain for her term.
THE ON GOING BATTLE BETWEEN FORT WAYNE CITY COUNCIL & THE MAYOR!
We need to back up to the findings of a audit report issued by the State Board of Accounts at the end of September. In order to explain that, we have to turn around back yet again, to the effects of the 2007 Municipal General Election, which gave us our current Administration, Council, and conflicts that are in need of serious mediation.
In 2007, Mayor Tom Henry was swept into office thanks to a political and financial multiple felony count indictment fraud scandal on the Republican ticket carrier. As I understand it, either shortly before or right after the election several of the previous Administration's key employees formed their own company, that then contracted with the City for 95,000 dollars for membership in the HIGH PERFORMANCE GOVERNMENT NETWORK, and then left their employment with the City.
These conflicts on procedure and accountability scream of willful deception on a part of both the previous and a rampant and continuing disregard by current Administration to avoid City Council review and oversight, all while the City is facing a multi million dollar budget shortfall over the next five years. Now of course right away most people would say former employees forming a company and providing services to their previous employer is an automatic a. fraud, b. conflict of interest, c. unfair bidding practice, and d. if this was done on the stock market, it would be considered insider trading. But wait it gets worse. Not only did said company hire itself to its former employer, its former employer's CEO the former mayor, is an invested member in the new organization, and its CEO too apparently.
It gets worse yet, Pat Roller, City Controller, whom was the one whom signed off on the purchase order on the last day of the old administration in 2007, without forwarding it to Council for review is indignant that anyone especially City Council would challenge her position of authority, "in making the best purchasing decisions for the City", which is where the whole audit report in late September comes into play.
Wait I'm getting the refuse cart before the jackass. Here is a short recap:
At the end of September of 2008, The State Board of Accounts issued a report (pdf) covering 2007 financial reports by the City and specifically cited this contract and further directed the County Prosecutor to begin an investigation based on "conflicts of interest", and emphatically stated that:
"We recommend this contract be approved by Common Council before any additional payments to HPG Network are remitted.We could not verify that the city received $95,000 in services for the year 2007 when the contract was only in effect for four days in 2007 (December 27, 2007 to December 31, 2007) and while the HPG Network employees were also city employees." (FWP)The day after the State Board of Accounts issued their report the City turned around and issued yet another HPGN, contract again without City Council Approval. Then during an early December meeting with City Council to air out the grievances with the original contract, no mention was made to the City Council about the new contract by the Administration.
It was only until Jeff Pruitt, Publisher of Fort Wayne Politics, did more digging and finally, through a freedom of information request, found the second contract, probably by accident on the part of the City, and brought it to every one's attention. This notably upset Council Member Mitch Harper, 4th District, even further (AFW, video). Democrat Council Member Tim Pape, 5th District, tried to jump on the bandwagon of, "over the last 8 years the HPGN has saved the City tens of millions of dollars" in the long run.
Everyone is now rightfully pissed off at Pat Roller, City Controller, who is still denying any wrongdoing. Her statement during an exit interview can be read on pages 14-21 of the State Board Of Accounts Report in pdf format. As calls for her resignation increased, in September also, she agreed to resign at the end of the year (FWN). Maybe, maybe not! On the 6th of January, the Mayor announced that she will not be resigning after all (FWOB).
I personally feel that City Council should impeach Pat Roller and order charges to be pursued against her and whomever else is found to be involved in the appropriations scandal!
This is starting to kind of remind me of Chicago politics, but nothing could match that level of corruption. I'm still trying to figure out who actually got beat with the rubber hose harder. Oh, that's right, we the tax payers did. We are always getting the short side of any scandal but yet we keep electing these loonies into office. Bonus pointes are awarded to Council Members Mitch Harper, Karen Goldner, and Liz Brown, for trying to make Government be accountable to the people once again.
Source: Fort Wayne Politics|Fort Wayne Observed| Around Fort Wayne|
Fort Wayne News|Disenfranchised American|