It has been 17 years and 150 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
The Arizona Republic of June 1, 2015 has a front page story by Peter Corbett entitled Glendale staffer quits over altered arena audit. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/06/01/glendale-staffer-resigns-arena-audit/28289641/ . Corbett reports that Assistant City Auditor Andrea McDermott-Fields resigned as a result of a conflict with City Auditor Candace MacLeod over the Coyotes audit.
A little history is in order. Two years ago the city audited its Risk Management Trust Fund. The audit was performed by MacLeod. MacLeod was supported by and worked very closely with former City Attorney (now attorney for IceArizona) Craig Tindall. MacLeod was part of the Frisoni-Burdick group that lobbied me (and I assume, other councilmembers) to appoint Craig Tindall as Interim City Manager rather than Horatio Skeete. This is “inside baseball” stuff and wouldn’t be commonly known.
I, and I assume the other councilmembers, were not aware of the fact that MacLeod’s husband did contract work in broadcasting for the Coyotes until 2011. Just as in the case of former Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni and her husband’s work for Insight Technology (a company that recently received a contract renewal from the city) there is a perception of conflict of interest. Just as Frisoni should have signed a disclosure statement it would have been prudent for MacLeod to divulge her possible conflict in reviewing the Coyotes recently submitted audit. The perception, rightly or wrongly, is that MacLeod might have had a reason to insure that IceArizona, owner of the Coyotes, didn’t look too bad.
What makes this situation even more questionable is that IceArizona stalled on releasing its audit. It should have been submitted to the city no later than September (60 days after the end of the Fiscal Year which ends June 30th). The city didn’t receive it until recently. In anticipation of receiving the IceArizona audit in a timely fashion the city hired Tony Tavares (once part of a group interested in buying the Coyotes) to audit the IceArizona submission. Presumably Tavares’ audit was completed and turned over to the city for confirmation. That is where MacLeod enters the picture. MacLeod assigned the job to McDermott-Fields but would have reviewed and approved the final work product.
According to Corbett McDermott-Fields in her April 21 letter of resignation said, “The basis of my resignation is that you have changed my findings in a way that is not acceptable to me or in accordance with the information that I have gathered.” As a result of McDermott’s resignation and the reason for it Jim Brown, the city’s human resources director did an inquiry regarding McDermott-Fields’ resignation but did not include a review of any of MacLeod’s changes to McDermott-Fields’ audit findings. Corbett related that “MacLeod told Brown that some of McDermott-Fields’ ‘documentation was inaccurate, incomplete, unclear, in some cases inflammatory and at times based on (McDermott-Fields’) opinion, which had not been confirmed with the city attorney or others’.”
MacLeod’s statement to Brown raises so many red flags I’m not even sure where to begin. In the article McDermott-Fields stated, “She is certified as an accountant, internal auditor and fraud examiner, adding that she has more than 25 years of experience.” Add to that she appears to have no ties or relationships to anyone associated with IceArizona and the Coyotes. She probably has more experience than MacLeod. She appears to be a neutral party and called it as she saw it.
It seems as if MacLeod trashed McDermott-Fields’ work because she didn’t like the result. I am also intrigued by McDermott-Fields’ comment, “MacLeod seemed hostile to her when they met to discuss the audit findings and (MacLeod) ‘accused me of throwing her under the bus’.” That also raises red flags. What was MacLeod upset about in McDermott-Fields’ audit findings? Who is MacLeod trying to protect? The city, IceArizona or both? No, something stinks about the whole situation. It appears to be another CYA move by Brown and Tom Duensing in an effort to avoid city embarrassment because an employee called the audit as she saw it and it might have shown that the city was being short changed by IceArizona in the revenues it received.
The shame of it all is that we will never know the results of the city’s audit. Why? Because former City Manager Brenda Fischer, in an apparent stunning lack of competence, signed a separate agreement with Anthony LeBlanc of the Coyotes, agreeing to keep the audit confidential. She didn’t have to do that. The management agreement between the city and IceArizona stipulated that the city has the right to audit and there was no requirement of confidentiality. If the agreement had been followed without the separate Fischer-LeBlanc amendment the audit would be publicly available. Then we would know who was right in her findings…MacLeod or McDermott-Fields. Somehow or another I’m betting McDermott-Fields was right on the money.
© Joyce Clark, 2015
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