Measure O = Good Ol’ Boy pot of gold with no accountability

pot of gold

monopoly

Going by, almost unnoticed, at the being of the March 4th Eureka city council meeting, there was embarrassing bumbling presentation by Coroner Dave Paris. He identified himself as Chairmen of the Financial Advisory Committee. Paris, who Jager has rumored to have handpicked as his successor, reported that they had met with staff, and essentially the Committee gave their blessing to whatever staff had told them(there were no specifics).  Paris said spent funds were “in line with the goals and objectives of Measure O”.

That was it, for the very less than detailed report. Then Mayor Jager asked him to name the members of the committee. Paris couldn’t, and had to ask for help has he stumbled though it. He would have taken a seat but at least Linda Atkins asked a question, “Could you give us a broad brush on how Measure O funds were spent this year?”

Paris referred to a report (not publicly released) from the Finance Director which detailed how the money was allocated, as opposed to whether it was actually ever spent. This was a very common tactic during the reign of Dave Tyson. Past Chairs of the Finance Advisory committee, Leo Sears and Dave Ogden, used to refer to this as the “Shell Game”.

The Shell Game works like this; create a new position in a department worth X amount of money, never fill the position, and then X amount of money goes back in the general fund to be spent elsewhere.  For the police department, several new positions were created last year for hundreds of thousands of dollars.  They are short staffed and can’t fill the positions.  Now the good ol’ boys can spend money on pet projects, while still claiming to have approved lots of $$$ for public safety.

A real audit (required by the voter passed measure) would look at how and where the money was actually spent.

Wording straight for the ballot measure:

“A citizen’s oversight committee shall be established to conduct annual audits of all expenditures generated by the tax to ensure fiscal accountability and public participation.”

A pledge made in the ballot Arguments For Measure O;

Accountability: A citizen’s oversight committee will annually review the City’s expenditure of these revenue generated by the tax; and the City post to their website, a detailed spending plan and an annual report from the City of revenues collected and how the funds have been spent.”

Signed by Council Members Jeff Leonard, Mike Jones, Linda Atkins and Frank Jager

Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of Audit: a complete and careful examination of the financial records of a business or person – a careful check or review of something – a formal examination of an organization’s or individual’s accounts or financial situation – a methodical examination and review.

The Examiner has taken a look at how measure O promises and pledges have been kept.

Let see how the City of Eureka has done:

A citizen’s oversight committee shall be established …FAIL

Review the City’s expenditure of these revenues generated by the tax…..FAIL

Annual audits of all expenditures generated by the tax……FAIL

Ensure fiscal accountability and public participation…..FAIL

City post to their website, a detailed spending plan and an annual report from the City of revenues collected and how the funds have been spent……FAIL

The bottom line is clear, Measure O was intended to support public safety.  One look at the Police Dept staffing (about 15% down) and you can see Measure O money is not being spent on the Police Dept.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Measure O = Good Ol’ Boy pot of gold with no accountability

  1. I hate to say this but… I think a lawsuit is in order to get the facts out (since the City of Eureka chooses to not be forthcoming of information on this).

    That appears to be the only way to get anything useful in the way of information. In my view, the fault of there being a lawsuit would fall very heavily on the shoulders of the folks running the City of Eureka. After all, the selling point of Measure O was to fully fund the Police and Fire Departments. Oops!

    Like

  2. This post raises a good question: Where’s the money gone? It seems pretty weird that there isn’t at least some info on the cities website. I never really thought about it so I just checked. There isn’t a summary or anything. I guess we’re just supposed to trust that our money isn’t being wasted. And the city actually wants to extend this tax? Okay, and I’ve got a bridge to sell you as well….

    Like

  3. This is very interesting and informative. Somehow the Times Standard, NCJ, and LOCO all missed this story but I’m glad to have read it on here. I’d say it’s time for some letters to the editor and complaints at the city counsel meetings.

    Like

  4. A lot of measure O money went to fund the Zoo, which is now a money sink for the city and home to political patronage jobs now.

    Like

  5. Where’s Peter Martin when you need him?

    Like

  6. I got here from the liberal Humboldt website and am glad to have found you. I don’t live in Eureka, but if I did, I’d be pretty upset about the lack of transparency and accountability. How do these good ol’ boys get so entrenched? Lack of public participation and follow-up makes it a lot easier for them to do as they please, not as they promised.

    Like

  7. Get Ryan Burns on this immediately!!!!I hear he’s the real deal and a local boy looking for injustices in Humboldt County, wait a story like this would probably affect his boss’ advertisers nevermind

    Like

  8. anyone else think the new Eureka city manager is about to be a scape goat?

    Like

  9. Hello,

    My name is Paul Rodrigues and I am the Finance Director for the City of Eureka.
    I would be more than happy to have a discussion with anyone who has any questions regarding Meaure O spending or any other questions they may have regarding City of Eureka finances.

    It would be nice to have a constructive conversation regarding your assertions, so this is my attempt to address them. Please do not hesitate to either email me at prodrigues@ci.eureka.ca.gov or call me at 441-4114.

    The Examiner has taken a look at how measure O promises and pledges have been kept.

    Let see how the City of Eureka has done:

    “A citizen’s oversight committee shall be established …FAIL”

    I respectfully disagree. The Finance Advisory Committee was tasked with taking of the role of overight of Measure O. That does not seem to be a “FAIL” to me.

    “Review the City’s expenditure of these revenues generated by the tax…..FAIL”

    Again, respectfully disagree. The FAC reviewed the expenditures of the revenuees generated by the tax. Dave Parris, the FAC Chair gave a report, one that you apparently did care for, but that does not change the fact that the commitee reviewed the expenditures and they were good with the way the funds were expended.

    “Annual audits of all expenditures generated by the tax……FAIL”

    Pass. Again, The FAC was given a detailed list of the expenitures. Further, there are many kinds of audits, ranging in nature and scope from forensic audits which examine every transaction, to annual audits which provide reasonable assurance that the finacial statements are free from material misstatement, to payroll tax audits or bed tax audits, where expenditures are tied from room reports or payroll records to the general ledger, and then to the tax return.

    The FAC’s role in oversight of Measure O spending performed an examination which is line with the latter definition, although the City’s financial records ARE audited every year by an independent CPA firm, and Measure O funds are part of that. Again, PASS.

    “City post to their website, a detailed spending plan and an annual report from the City of revenues collected and how the funds have been spent……FAIL”

    I would not say that this is an A+, perhaps a C- at this point, because a spending plan has been prepared, and it should be on the City’s website, but a quick glance at the site shows that it’s not there. I am having the expenditure report uploaded to the website in the next week or so.

    Measure O spending is listed on the website already, though as part of the City’s annual budget, posted on the site the 2013-14 proposed document is the document that was approved by Council last June.

    “The bottom line is clear, Measure O was intended to support public safety. One look at the Police Dept staffing (about 15% down) and you can see Measure O money is not being spent on the Police Dept.”

    This is simply not the case. Measure O spending has been budgeted to the tune of about 79 percent to Public Safety. Any monies budgeted but not spent are transferred to reserves and designated as having come from Measure O. This is in the interest of being completely transparent and open. When staffing is down, not all of Measure O is spent, but then it is shown as HAVING COME FROM MEASURE O.

    When there are sufficient reserves built up, the City Council can look at other Public Safety Expenditures that are more long term in nature, such as the building of a new Fire Department.

    The same wording that you’ve used to bring up the oversight commitee and other items also contains this – in fact this wording is at the beginning of the City of Eureka’s Measure O ballot measure:

    A YES vote means that you support the services and programs provided by our Fire and Police Departments. A YES vote means you value Sequioa Park zoo, safe parks, recreation, and programs to protect the environment. A YES vote on this measure means a minimal increase in local sales tax in order to raise nearly $3 million annually for 5 years to help fund critical city services. A YES vote means you are taking an active role in protecting our quality of life in Eureka during these difficult economic times.

    Thank you very much for your time. Again, I am more than happy to talk in person, over the phone, or via email about this very important issue, and again thanks for the opportunity to perhaps provide some clarification.

    Paul Rodrigues
    Finance Director
    City of Eureka

    Like

  10. Paul-

    I watched the meeting last night and didn’t see any of what you’re talking about. If what you say is true, why was that idiot up there? He didn’t mention any of what you’ve written. Why hasn’t the info you’ve written in the comment been posted on the city website. It’s been over 3 years of measure O taxes already. Why didn’t you stand up at the meeting and clarify these issues? I appreciate the comment but the city should really be more transparent with taxpayers like me.

    Like

  11. Isn’t it illegal for a city employee to advocate for a ballot issue? WTF?

    Like

  12. A city employee can advocate for a ballot issue. For example employee groups endorsed and worked on the campaign for Measure O in 2010. City resources cannot be used to advocate for a ballot measure. The City can provide information on what the tax measure provides to the City.

    Like

  13. Wow. So the Cops and Fireman spent lottsa bucks to endorse measure O cause it was for public safety. Guess the were too stupid for the Paul speak, “A YES vote means you value Sequioa Park zoo, safe parks, recreation, and programs to protect the environment.” All of you are idiots for ever thinking that government will spend money the way you want. Paul is a typical govt. lackey who will justify stealing your dollars however he wants. If cops don’t like it, they should get a real job! If you don’t like it, don’t give over your cash without a fight. Don’t bitch when you volunteer to get robbed!!!

    Like

  14. this blog really must be upsetting the City Hall people. The defense of the presentation in front of the City Council seems pretty weak. Watch the meeting for yourself. Linda was the only one paying any attention. the rest look like deer in the headlights.

    Like

  15. Thank you for your comments Paul, what a surprise to learn so much here that is unavailable officially from the city’s website or council meetings.

    I’m convinced of the need for a separate audit of Measure “O” funds, and to have oversight performed by a “Citizen’s Oversight Committee”, not the council’s Finance Committee that would face embarrassment from finding “inconsistencies” in a process already within their purview.

    Like

  16. I still don’t get where the Zoo and parks get some of measure O? That is not it’s intent nor is it being sold to the public that way. It was not it’s intent the first time it was passed. Why then is it there now?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s