Tuesday, March 11, 2008

BOE Has A Plan

It was sheer torture to sit and listen to some of the Members of the BOE air their ignorance tonight about the issues Town Treasurer and CFO Ray Jankowski raised in his letter regarding the internal service fund.

Vice-Chair Tom McSherry appeared to be clueless about the fact that a forensic auditor did his study of the infamous account today. This, despite the fact that it has been in all the newspapers (and I broke the story in this Blog). It also appears that he didn't read any of the stories about the merits of the issue in either medium. "Did we have a lot of money left over? It appears that we did," he said. "The accounting that I see needs to be done is on the town-side." "If we find that we put too much money in there then we have to take it out." Tom, please read the very simple explanation I wrote about what happened, I'm sure that will help. And did you listen to your former Chair explain that the GAAP Rules don't allow what you're asking? Did you hear about the letter from the Town Attorney? Did you do any homework?

But McSherry wasn't alone. Tom Mulvihill and John Turk both told me tonight that they didn't know about the auditor doing his job today. And it's very clear that David Lawson is similarly unaware of the facts although he clearly has the right intentions. Yes, a lot of homework needs to be done.

The bright portion of the night came in Bill Wellman's insistence on getting an opinion letter from the Board's Attorney: "It seems to me that there is a conflict of interest between the interests of the Board and the interests of the Administration," he said. "Should the board have its own investigation?" That is to say, for the BOE to ask its employees to investigate the very serious allegations leveled against them is akin to hiring the fox to guard the chickenhouse. Of course there's a conflict. But what will the "Board's attorney"opine? Is the firm in such close lockstep with the Administration that it will find that there is no conflict? Yes. That's my prediction. And here's why that's significant.

This is the "plan": 1) get a written opinion from the BOE Attorney about whether there is a conflict of interest; 2) if not, continue the "internal investigation;" 3) deliver the report of the investigation to the Operations Committee together with a history of the account that was requested by Member Faulenbach; and 4) maybe have a special meeting to discuss the matter.

So a legal opinion that there's no conflict of interest is clearly in the Administration's best interest because if they say that there is a conflict, the BOE will likely hire its own forensic auditor who will tell them the truth about the financial hanky-panky.

Now here's a big clue about where this is going from the education side. About her "internal investigation," the Superintendent said that "we're looking at all the DYNAMICS that Tom Corbett used." Dynamics, not rules and laws? Tom Corbett? Hmmm....I smell a hatchet job and a whitewash.

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