On August 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM I received the following email: “Since you were interviewed as part of the process, I wanted to let you know that the City-Council-directed-external-audit of the city’s finances is complete and is being released to the public and media today. The documents will be posted on the city’s home page and are available for you at this link: http://www.glendaleaz.com/documents/SpecialProject-SummaryofFindingsandConclusions.pdf    Julie Frisoni”

This short and not-so-sweet email went to people interviewed for the external audit (or declined the request for an interview) but are no longer working for the city. It would have included me, former Mayor Elaine Scruggs, former City Manager Ed Beasley, former Assistant City Manager Pam Kavanaugh, former Finance Director Ed Lynch, former Human Resources Director Alma Carmicle and former Risk Manager Jim Loeb. I assume another email went to currently employed city personnel who were interviewed.

I had not checked my email all day but I did so late in the evening. I immediately went to the link provided in the email (you can do so as well), downloaded and printed out the 250 plus page external audit produced at a cost of half a million dollars. Then I spent the next couple of hours reading and analyzing it.

Finally, finally, finally, the city has released the results of the external audit. This is an issue for discussion that is long overdue. To do it justice there will be this article to be followed by two more. This first section will flesh out the scope of the audit, the players and the atmosphere surrounding the actions that occurred. It’s time to set the record straight.

The firm hired to perform the external audit was Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally, PLC (HMPFM). They, in turn, subcontracted Fidelity Forensics Group, LLC., the Law Offices of A. Bates Butler and Evidence Solutions, Inc.

Their mandate was to investigate actions related to the Early Retirement Program (ERP); transfers between and out of the Risk Management Trust Fund (RMTF) and the Workmens Compensation Trust Fund (WCTF); look at any other cash transfers into the city’s General Fund; and evaluation of city management’s disclosure of these actions to the city council. They would also be charged with identifying any civil or criminal liability related to these actions. As they worked their way through these issues council approved enlarging their scope of investigation to include lack of city contributions to the trust funds; the city’s actions under the Federal Early Retirement Reimbursement Program (FERRP); Art Lynch’s employment arrangements after he retired as well as city action associated with his retirement; and Alma Carmicle’s work arrangement after she moved to Mississippi. In other words did anyone deliberately misdirect city funds or use them improperly, was improper direction given and did the city council know?

We know who was hired to do the work and what they were hired to investigate. To do their work they secured 19 workstations and/or computers and/or other devices such as tablets and phones. They reviewed nearly 75,000 documents but perhaps, most importantly, they performed 37 interviews. 27 people were interviewed (some more than once) as follows:

*    Norma Alvarez        *   Don Bolton             *   Jim Brown               *    Cathy Mcintyre        *   Ann Buchmeier       *   Nick DiPiazza             *   Julie Frisoni             *    Diane Goke           *   Horatio Skeete          *   Julianna Lloyd        *   Christina Parry       *   Craig Sullivan              *   Candace MacLeod   *   John Stern               *   Darcie McCracken       *   Raquel Montero        *   Joyce  Clark          *   Robert Steele           *   Elizabeth Smith        *   Andy Jennings         *   Elaine Scruggs         *   Shelly Kitts               *   Lupe Sierra         *   Craig Tindall                    *    Jill Shaw                *   Jim Summers        *   Michael Morrison              *   Sherry Schurhammer

More telling are those who were asked for interviews but declined them:

             *   Ed Beasley                  *   Art Lynch              

              *   Jim Loeb                     *   Pam Kavanaugh

             *   Alma Carmicle 

Now we have our cast of characters. What was the environment under former City Manager Ed Beasley’s tenure? It can be characterized in two words — very controlling. I used to joke and say that councilmembers were mushrooms. There’s an old country saying that mushrooms are grown in the dark and fed horse manure. It turns out to be more colorfully accurate than anyone imagined. Page 19 of the external audit says, “From the onset of the ERP, City Management and staff failed to keep the City Council appropriately informed, at times misled them and/or provided incorrect information. Under the previous administration, city staff was hindered and/or prohibited from providing valuable information to the City Council. Until recently City staff was hesitant to make independent decisions or communicate directly with the City Council due to a mandate by City Management that all Council communications be run through the City Manager’s office. The few times City staff was allowed to present to the City Council, they were required to do a dry run for City Management and only present that which was approved at that rehearsal. These acts could be most readily observed in official communications by City Management and staff with the City Council.” Finally here is formal vindication of my actions as Chairperson of the Trust Funds and as your councilmember despite the smear tactics used by my opponent in my recent reelection campaign.

In my conversations with various staff, there was confirmation that not only did every council communication have to flow through the city manager’s office but that staff was required to report any verbal communication had with councilmembers. They also, I kid you not, had various staff members act in the roles of individual councilmembers and then rehearse the proposed presentation to be made to council. It was a formidable and intimidating atmosphere in which Beasley expected results. Policy direction was his forte. Immersing himself in detail to achieve the objective was not. Question: Who exactly constituted “City Management” at that time? Or did Beasley instead rely upon his “inner circle” of trusted advisers?”

What occurred disturbs me – no, it’s worse than that. It makes me sick to my stomach. Management staff, almost universally belong to the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA). ICMA’s Code of Ethics can be seen at this link: http://icma.org/en/icma/ethics/code_of_ethics.

Tenet 3 of the Code is as follows, “Be dedicated to the highest ideals of honor and integrity in all public and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the respect and confidence of the elected officials, of other officials and employees, and of the public.” Staff members involved betrayed the trust we placed in them and treated us as mushrooms.

Next up — what did the investigation reveal?

©Joyce Clark, 2013

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.