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Killeen council, panel to get first look at preliminary audit findings

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The public won’t have any new information yet on the investigation into Killeen’s finances, but the Killeen City Council and city managers will be getting a glimpse.

A council subcommittee and the City Council will review auditors’ executive summary and decide Tuesday whether the public accounting firm satisfied the requirements of its contract to examine city finances.

In a closed session at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the council’s Audit Advisory Committee will meet with Houston-based McConnell & Jones at City Hall.

“The purpose of the meeting will be to present to them (the subcommittee) what their (auditors’) findings are in detail, and say, ‘This is it … unless you have any mitigating evidence otherwise, or any comments, this is what is going into the draft report,’” said City Auditor Matthew Grady.

The subcommittee will report to the council in a closed session at the workshop that begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Neither the council nor auditors have set any time to discuss it in public Tuesday.

The firm’s findings will not be altered, City Manager Ron Olson told the Herald two weeks ago. Olson also has said the public will see the findings; it’s not clear when, however.

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Ron Olson, pictured, while interviewing for the Killeen city manager position in October 2016 at Stonetree Golf Club in Killeen.

The draft audit is due to the council July 7 and will include parts of the executive summary and details of what top city management could see Wednesday.

A final report is due July 31 per the contract, Grady said.

TUESDAY’S SESSIONS

In the agreement authorized March 14, the council asked McConnell & Jones to examine seven areas:

– Capital outlays from fiscal years 2006-2016

– Use of bond money from fiscal years 2002-2017

– Interfund transfers from fiscal years 2010-2016

– Pay increases from fiscal years 2014-2017

– City/developer agreements from fiscal years 2002-2016

– Private roadway ownership from fiscal years 2002-2016

– Spending during the post-recall of the council period from November 2011 to May 2012.

Although federal grants and expenditures are not among the seven focal points, Olson said auditors could include the handling of federal money if questions were raised during the course of their investigation.

At the closed subcommittee meeting Tuesday morning, the panel headed by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick, who has opposed the audit, will compare the results of the summary with the firm’s contract.

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Jim Kilpatrick

If the subcommittee, which includes council members Shirley Fleming and Steve Harris, is satisfied, auditors will continue with the investigation that is nearly complete, Grady said.

Once the subcommittee is satisfied, Olson and his executive staff will be allowed to speak with auditors.

If the subcommittee finds the audit is lacking in some way, the council will review that decision Tuesday and discuss the next step. Options include giving auditors additional tasks.

Olson and city staff plan to talk to auditors Wednesday and get a briefing even more detailed than the council’s.

Olson recently joined the city and was not here when transactions under scrutiny occurred.

Several other managers were here and are potential subjects of the audit, as well as participants in the audit’s progress. They include Dennis Baldwin, the former Killeen police chief who is now assistant city manager, Deputy City Manager Ann Farris and City Attorney Kathryn Davis.

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Former Killeen Interim City Manager Dennis Baldwin speaks during a January town hall meeting at the Killeen Police Department Headquarters on Community Boulevard in Killeen.

Baldwin, as police chief, for more than 12 years until October 2016, received federal grants and handled large purchases for his department. As interim city manager Dec. 6, Baldwin recommended making a transfer of $1.67 million from the city’s solid waste ratepayer’s fund to the city’s general fund. The funds came from the elimination of the fleet replacement program. That program, which took money from the ratepayers fund and mingled it with operation fund money, was created to purchase new city vehicles.

The move was approved by the council Dec. 13, but even the city’s own finance director told the Herald it was a gamble. It also was described by city hall observer and Killeen resident James “Jack” Ralston as “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

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Ann Farris, former Killeen interim city manager and now deputy city manager, speaks about proposed budget revisions for 2017 during a council workshop in August 2016.

Farris, who oversaw finances from 2013-2016 as the assistant city manager and interim city manager, failed to tell council members and the public the city was in financial distress during that time period. As the council was gearing up for budget planning, Farris announced June 30, the city needed $8 million to balance the budget.

Davis is the city’s attorney and was in that role during the time frame under investigation. Davis regularly attends council meetings, including those when financial transactions were proposed and approved.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

What will transpire on the audit will be kept secret by the city for now.

“The only time that we’ll go into these closed sessions is because there might be sensitive discussions being made that don’t need to be made public at that time,” Kilpatrick said about Tuesday’s meeting.

Kilpatrick had cast doubt on his own commitment to the audit by previously opposing and voting against the audit, yet ending up head of the subcommittee created to work with auditors. The subcommittee met June 20 — the first time since February. Harris joined the subcommittee after the May election, replacing former Councilman Richard “Dick” Young.

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Killeen City Attorney Kathryn Davis discusses the investigative audit of city finances during a council workshop in October 2016.

Davis attended the June 20 audit subcommittee meeting. When she reminded subcommittee members to approve previous minutes, none had been recorded for either June 20 or the meeting in February. State open meetings law requires a governing body to keep a record, in writing or audio, of what happens for public inspection. Because the subcommittee does not meet a quorum rule, the law does not apply. Residents, however, are not able to independently examine what happened in those meetings without minutes. Kilpatrick said it would be corrected.

CHECK YES OR NO

The role of administrators in the audit process would be to get additional information for auditors, such as to corroborate the proper use of bond money, Baldwin said, when he attended the June 20 subcommittee meeting in place of Olson, who was out of town.

“That dialogue is important to ensure the correct information gets to council,” Baldwin said. “The documents are the documents — none of that’s going to be in the possession of us to change. It just allows for that dialogue to occur.”

Initial observations by the firm May 2 indicated bond funds were used for unauthorized purposes, such as operating expenses, including salaries.

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Dennis Baldwin

“And that’s a poor example, probably, but you get my point,” Baldwin said to subcommittee members. “It’s really just to address anything that they may see, maybe there’s something that we’re not aware of, and they need more information, or additional information.”

Kilpatrick and Baldwin said the process is transparent because the subcommittee and council members are seeing information before city administrators.

“Because of the uniqueness of this, the city manager’s wanting to hold back and let you all see it first, make sure you’re comfortable with it, and say, ‘OK, now you can go ahead and move forward,’” Baldwin said.

“Again, I think it comes back to being transparent, and honoring the wishes of council to make sure it’s managed in a way that lends itself to being more credible, from everyone’s standpoint.”

WHY ARE WE HERE?

Public perception and trust declined when city administrators failed to share news of declining city finances, kept it quiet for years and then finally acknowledged the city has an $8 million budget shortfall last summer.

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Concerned Killeen residents attend the City Council public hearing about the city's budget and tax rate at City Hall, Sept. 13, 2016.

Overspending from at least fiscal years 2013-2016 was visible in lopsided budgets.

“There appears to be a lack of analysis of the long-term fiscal impact when presenting recommendations to Council,” the McConnell & Jones preliminary report to council May 2 reads. “The City lacks critical policies in many areas to guide decision-making.”

The report said the city did not make it easy for council members to make more knowledgeable decisions.

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Killeen residents fill the room at a City Council public hearing concerning the city's budget in the fall 2016.

Auditors’ two progress updates in public session to the council, May 2 and June 6, were night and day. The first indicated a misuse of public money with no context; the second provided neither.

If the audit finds criminal acts, the council can choose to prosecute, according to statements made to council members in November by McConnell & Jones.

But that depends.

If a violation involves federal money such as grants — which the city uses — the FBI can jump in without permission from the council, according to FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee, who previously spoke in generalities.

Ultimately, there must be a reason to believe a violation of federal law occurred.

An April 16 Herald article debunked Councilman Kilpatrick’s claim that all previous audits were clean. It spotlighted the results of a 2011 external auditor report by Temple-based Brockway, Gersbach, Franklin & Niemeier, that determined several “significant deficiencies” — at least some of them within grants management.

The report said the situation was corrected and management reviewed grant oversight procedures to address the findings. It was recommended the city designate one employee to control grants, who should be “independent of individual departments receiving the benefits of such grants.”

That position was not funded in this year’s budget, said city spokeswoman Hilary Shine in April. Grants are handled by departmental or finance staff, she said.

Routine municipal audits like the ones cited by Kilpatrick have been criticized nationally for failing to catch wrongdoing, and in extreme cases, as spotlighted in a Herald report April 9, failing to detect outright corruption.


REPORT FRAUD

City Auditor Grady had reminded city employees they are responsible for reporting fraud and can do so anonymously.

A city voicemail hotline with instructions at 254-501-6300 is available around the clock. Messages are accessed solely by the city auditor, according to city spokeswoman Hilary Shine.

A fraud complaint form can be accessed on the city website and emailed to fraudhotline@killeentexas.gov. To remain anonymous, it can be printed and mailed to: City Auditor, P.O. Box 1329, Killeen, TX 76540. Go to http://bit.ly/2q46cvD to download the form.

The FBI can be reached around the clock, every day of the year, at 210-225-6741. Electronic tips can be submitted anonymously at https://tips.fbi.gov.

The Texas Rangers maintains a public corruption unit; the Rangers’ Austin headquarters can be reached at 512-424-2160 or rangers@dps.texas.gov.


MORE ONLINE

Go to http://bit.ly/2tvZFJe to read the Herald’s previous story about the audit, and http://bit.ly/2solufz to see the story from last Sunday.

Go to http://bit.ly/killeenfinances to find out what’s going on at City Hall, and track #KilleenFinances on Twitter for updates.

asierra@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7463

(11) comments

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

#ANONopkilleentxcitycorruption
Post all this to your facebook pages, websites Making sure to add the hashtag #ANONopkilleentxcitycorruption The movement starts with you!
Oh, we’ll rally round the flag boys
We’ll rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
We will rally from the hillside
We’ll gather from the plain
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

The Union forever
Hurrah boys hurrah
Down with the traitor, up with the star
While we rally round the flag boys
Rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
We are springing to the call
Of our brothers gone before
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
And we’ll fill the vacant ranks
With a million freemen more
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

The Union forever
Hurrah boys hurrah
Down with the traitor, up with the star
While we rally round the flag boys
Rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
We will welcome to our numbers
The loyal, true and brave
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
And although they may be poor
Not a one shall be a slave
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

The Union forever
Hurrah boys hurrah
Down with the traitor, up with the star
While we rally round the flag boys
Rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
So we’re springing to the call
From the east and from the west
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
And we’ll hurl the rebel crew
From the land we love the best
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

The Union forever
Hurrah boys hurrah
Down with the traitor, up with the star
While we rally round the flag boys
Rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

@Alvin, well it seems me and you are the only two that have written and called. So I guess its time to send in the Legion.

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@eyewatchingu: This person has fought his last battle with this city government. As I've said, I've written to the Texas Attorney General's office twice, the FBI, once, and now the Texas Rangers once. I believe it will take more than one individual 'tooting his horn' to develop some interest in these various departments.
Should some of the council people, or other 'concerned' people have the gumption to send some 'letters of concern' then I'll be right there beside you, but you will have to stand up for yourselves. Talk is cheap, action is where it's at.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

We are here, we are watching and we are ready to do the same here. We do not forget, we do not forgive, we are legion.

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

@Alvin for your viewing pleasure. Anonymous is nothing to fear, many fractions and this fraction is a watchdog on city corruption. Yes a free thought can be a frightening thing to those that are doing wrong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp2CbdTGkRc

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

@Alvin http://www.news-press.com/story/news/crime/2017/02/22/fort-myers-police-reveal-department-audit-results-1-pm/98248192/
Alleged police corruption was never investigated. Officers were directed to deal with the public in a “heavy-handed” manner. A drug-trafficking network has operated with near impunity in Fort Myers, even killing witnesses. And an overwhelmed Fort Myers Police Department has failed to develop a strategy to deal with that network.
A scathing 72-page report released Wednesday outlines a toxic culture within the Fort Myers Police Department that prioritized maintaining “the illusion that the city was a safe place and that FMPD was effectively policing the city,” while doing little to combat a growing problem of gang and drug-related violence.
The Fort Myers City Council paid Freeh Group International Solutions, a Delaware-based consulting firm, $150,000 to perform the audit last May. It began weeks after a News-Press investigation revealed ongoing accusations of racial discrimination and retaliation against officers who complained.
DOCUMENT: FMPD Needs Assessment Report
The consultants were given unfettered access to the department and all its members for several months, and officers were promised anonymity to ensure a candid discussion, said Robert O’Neill, managing director of the Freeh Group. They emerged with 32 recommendations, and the very first one is to investigate allegations of officer misconduct that surfaced during the audit.
“As a city manager, I wanted to make sure that I understand what is going on in that department, and so the new chief understands what he is getting into,” City Manager Saeed Kazemi said during a press conference announcing the report. “But now we have a roadmap that we are going to follow.”
Internal and external problems
The report points to a buyout program offered in 2008 as the start of the department’s troubles. Fort Myers was just starting to feel the effects of the Great Recession, and budget cuts were coming across the board.
The buyout led to a sudden departure of FMPD’s most experienced officers, investigators and leadership, and in many ways, the department never recovered, the report said.
In addition, there is a strong belief within the department that favoritism has infected all aspects of FMPD, the report shows. This includes promotions, giving out assignments or training opportunities and handing down discipline.

“The great majority, if not almost every single person we interviewed, said there was a clique issue,” O’Neill said. “You either were in or you were out, and many of them really felt that was a problem. As do we.”
The favoritism appeared to extend to officers who’d compromised search warrants. Several people told investigators that some of their fellow officers leaked information to drug dealers regarding search warrants.
“It does not appear that these matters were ever addressed by the Department. Instead, these officers, who were not trusted by other officers, witnesses or outside agencies, were promoted and allowed to serve in positions in which they had the ability to compromise sensitive investigations,” the report says.
Preferential treatment in the promotion process led to an imbalance of experience, the report shows. There are too many people in leadership positions with experience in narcotics, and not enough people with experience in homicides. Underqualified leadership has created a “culture of failure and defeatism.”
Officers told the consultants they “believed that key stakeholders have often resorted to blaming external forces, like the State Attorney’s Office and the minority community, rather than looking critically within the Department in an honest effort to identify solutions,” the report says.
Discipline was not consistent. Three officers believed to have been untruthful were investigated by the department, but only one was directly asked about whether he was untruthful, putting him in jeopardy. That officer, who is black, was fired. The other two officers were not asked about being untruthful. They are white. But the black officer reported that he didn’t believe race was the underlying factor. It was favoritism, the report says.
The problems also bled into the community.
“Officers were directed to increase arrests and citations for minor infractions in order to increase the Department’s reporting of statistical accomplishments,” the report says. “Instead of assigning appropriate resources to unsolved homicides and shootings, officers were directed to deal with the general public in a heavy-handed manner. Rather than remove violent offenders from the city, this practice spawned complaints from the general public and appears to have exacerbated tension and dis-trust (sic) within the communities in which these actions took place.”
On top of that, citizen complaints of harassment were not addressed the way they should have been, which aggravated tensions between police and the community.
The issues outlined in a News-Press investigation about a joint task force were actually systemic throughout the department, as detailed by the Freeh Group’s report.
Poor outcomes
These “heavy-handed” interactions in the community were the result of FMPD leadership pushing to emphasize statistics, creating an illusion of safety for the city and an image of competency for the department, the report said.
Short staffing also led to overwhelmed homicide investigators, who were then expected to work alone and solve homicides in two weeks.
“In homicide investigations, investigators do not work in teams and do not have partners. As a result, the primary investigator is typically overwhelmed with responsibilities…,” the report said. “Investigators ask each other for help on an informal basis but are routinely reassigned to other matters. If a murder is not solved within the first two weeks, the primary investigator is returned to the rotation of detectives eligible to assume the lead on a new case. This occurs routinely and as a result, high-profile investigations, even those that could be solved, become unaddressed matters.”
That has led to a pattern of violence where drug and gang-based violence then turns into residents – skeptical of the FMPD’s ability to protect them from the gangs – taking matters into their own hands. A spiral of “retaliatory violence,” that the FMPD has not been able to break.
Further, the report details the explosive revelation that a drug-trafficking network has operated with near impunity in Fort Myers, even killing witnesses.
“Additionally the Department has not been able to develop a successful investigation of a drug trafficking network responsible for numerous murders, including the murders of witnesses. There has been a lack of a focused and coordinated strategy to address the most significant criminal enterprises in the city,” the report said.
Few details on that network were available in the report due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Overwhelmed investigators, a skeptical community that fears to cooperate with FMPD for fear of their own safety and a pattern of retaliatory violence are all detailed in the report. One exasperated detective bemoaned the department’s ineffectiveness and how the community was assessing the risks.
“Cookouts and basketball are great but how do we let good people know we will remove the bad ones,” the unnamed detective told investigators.
Recommendations
The report listed 32 recommendations under four tiers. Tier 1 recommendations were marked “to be implemented immediately.” The number one recommendation is to investigate allegations of police misconduct regarding drug search warrants discussed in the report.
That recommendation flows together with several recommendations related to the department’s leadership and culture. One recommendation, number 14, said every supervisor should be interviewed on their leadership abilities and past performances.
“Undoubtedly, there will be individuals who will resist the changes that must be implemented in order to move the Department forward,” the report said. “The Chief’s greatest challenge will be to identify future leaders who are willing to sacrifice personal ambitions and preferences in order to do what is best for the Department and the City of Fort Myers.”
Other recommendations call for a pooling of investigative services meant to streamline the flow of information and solve more homicide cold cases. Because murders go unsolved, the report said, the city is consumed by a “pattern of retaliatory violence” the department needs to break. A stronger relationship with community members – especially the minority community – was also the focus of several recommendations.
But more long-term issues – the Tier 4 recommendations, which should be implemented over five years – focus on hiring additional officers and providing better technology for faster investigations.
Fallout
Changes have already begun for FMPD.
Police Chief Derrick Diggs took over in August. He quickly identified a gang problem and organized a gang suppression unit, which he says has thwarted as many as six mass shootings since its inception. Diggs also hired two consultants to help bridge the gap between the police and the community through several engagement sessions.
But one of the immediate recommendations for the department was to “ensure that the Captain that serves as the Commander of the Investigations Bureau is trusted and respected by officers and outside agency partners.”
The former head of Investigations Bureau, Capt. Melvin “Duke” Perry, was temporarily replaced by Lt. Jay Rodriguez. That replacement came on Tuesday, just before the report’s release to the public.
What, exactly, led to Perry’s replacement was not immediately clear as an FMPD spokesman declined to comment because of state laws regarding the confidentiality of complaints filed against law enforcement officers.
But that change appears, at least in part, as a facet of the culture change that Chief Diggs has repeatedly discussed, and recommended by the report, to clean up and revitalize an overwhelmed FMPD.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE:
Investigation: Accusations of discrimination, retaliation persist at FMPD
Analysis: Fort Myers violence task force crackdown fell short
Fort Myers police: 14-month investigation nets 21 arrests
FMPD creates gang unit, says it thwarted 5 mass shootings
Fort Myers Police Department Needs Assessment Report by The News-Press on Scribd

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/24932054/floridas-most-corrupt-city-faces-extinction
@Alvin and all that care about this city. HAMPTON, Florida (CNN) -- How off-the-charts corrupt do you have to be to capture somebody's attention in the Sunshine State?
You can lay claim to a 1,260-foot stretch of busy highway a mile outside of town and set up one of the nation's most notorious speed traps. You can use the ticket money to build up a mighty police force -- an officer for every 25 people in town -- and, residents say, let drugs run rampant while your cops sit out by the highway on lawn chairs, pointing radar guns at everybody who passes by.
Of course, none of those things are illegal. But when you lose track of the money and the mayor gets caught up in an oxy-dealing sting, that's when the politicians at the state Capitol in Tallahassee take notice.
Now they want this city gone, and the sooner the better.
A state audit of Hampton's books, released last month, reads like a primer on municipal malfeasance. It found 31 instances in which local rules or state or federal laws were violated in ways large and small.
Somewhere along the way, the place became more than just a speed trap. Some say the ticket money corrupted Hampton, making it the dirtiest little town in Florida.
That's saying something, because Florida has seen enough civic shenanigans to lead the nation in federal corruption prosecutions and convictions, according to a watchdog organization called Integrity Florida. The group's 2012 study revealed that more than 1,760 of Florida's public officials had been convicted of corruption since 1976.
"It's a mess," Dan Krassner, the group's co-founder, said of the situation in Hampton. "Clearly, there has been misuse of public funds and lack of oversight. The cronyism and nepotism is out of control."
As for the city's prospects, "They don't look good."
Sure enough, a criminal investigation is gaining steam. On Friday, Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators and the Bradford County Sheriff's detectives searched Hampton City Hall. The door of the police chief's office was removed from its hinges as investigators combed the tin-roofed building for documents and other evidence.
How did things get so bad that lawmakers now think the the dirtiest little town in America has forfeited its right to govern itself?
The local sheriff, never at a loss for a colorful turn of phrase, has a theory: The speeding tickets were such a cash cow, they proved to be Hampton's undoing.
"It became 'serve and collect' instead of 'serve and protect.' Cash register justice," said Sheriff Gordon Smith. "Do y'all remember the old 'Dukes of Hazzard'? Boss Hogg? They make Boss Hogg look like a Sunday school teacher."
Whom did the pipeline of easy money corrupt in this postage stamp-size town with fewer than 500 people? And if money is missing, how much are we talking about, anyway: $200,000, $600,000? One lawmaker has suggested it's as much as $1 million.
And where did it all go? There aren't any McMansions rising up out of the swamp, no country clubs, no casinos, no swimming pools, no stadium, not even a new City Hall, although the old one got a fresh coat of paint when the auditors came to town.
There are some nicer homes with fishing boats tied to docks along Lake Hampton, but they sit outside the city limits. Hampton proper -- several blocks on either side of City Hall -- consists of ramshackle homes with sagging tin roofs. Yards are filled with junk, high grass and overgrown trees and bushes. The proliferation of No Trespassing signs is disconcerting. People here seem to have so little and yet fear losing it so much.
Some old-timers remember when it used to be much grander, the Bradford County seat, with a hotel and a railroad station and large homes with sweeping lawns. Then the fancy folks packed up and moved 10 miles up the road to Starke, taking Hampton's dreams (and the county seat) with them.
The Florida Legislature convened last week, and by the time the session closes at the end of April, Hampton could be history.
Some residents think that would be a crying shame.
Other people say that dissolving Hampton would be more like a mercy killing.
'Crooks or stupid people'
Despite its polite audit-speak and dry title -- "Operational Audit: City of Hampton" -- the 42-page report from the state auditor general makes for riveting reading. Nepotism is rampant. City cars, cell phones and credit cards were misused. The city clerk was overpaid by some $9,000, and employees ran up $27,000 on the city's credit card and charged another $132,000 on an account at the convenience store at the BP station next door to City Hall.
"What's wrong with that picture? That's a lot of cigarettes and beer and what-have-you. That's corrupt as heck," said Jim Mitzel, who was mayor of Hampton from 2000 to 2008. He's sitting on the bleachers of a baseball field at a city park, one of the few things Hampton has done to improve the lives of its 477 residents. (Not with speeding ticket money, though. Hampton received a grant.)
Mitzel, who is in his early 50s, acknowledges his role in greasing the revenue pipeline from the speed trap out on U.S. 301. But he says he always intended for the money to come back to the city. All he ever saw was shiny new police cars in a place where old cars rust in front yards because there's no code enforcement.
"Where did all the money go?" he asked. "I hate to say it, but in somebody's pocket."
Mitzel's daddy served on the City Council for years. He said the way Hampton's government is set up, the employees had the run of City Hall and they didn't cotton to dissent.
"If you start questioning, they turn things on you. I got out when the getting was good." His salary as mayor -- $125 a month -- wasn't worth the hassle, he said.
The last mayor, Barry Layne Moore, was in office for just a few weeks when he was locked up and accused of being a drug dealer. He says he's not sure whom to blame for his predicament.
On a recent afternoon, Moore shuffled into a visitor's room at the Bradford County Jail in orange plastic slide-on sandals that matched his orange jumpsuit. His hands were cuffed in front of him, his ankles shackled. He took a seat and smiled, looking a little puzzled.
He allegedly sold a single 30-milligram pill of oxycodone -- a "blueberry" in street parlance -- to an undercover sheriff's informant for $20. He denies the charge and swears he's going to beat the case in court. He's been sitting in jail in Starke, about 10 miles up the road from Hampton, since a few days before Thanksgiving. He can't raise the $4,500 required to bond out.
He's still the mayor, he thinks, although Gov. Rick Scott has suspended him. He thinks he's being made a scapegoat to steer attention away from the audit and Hampton's bigger problems. He talks about himself as a little fish swept up in a big net.
"They made it sound as if I was running some kind of pill mill right out of my house, which is not the case at all," he said. "If I was some kind of drug dealer, I would at least have a car. I ride a bicycle around town. I had my lights cut off twice last year. If I am a dope dealer, why are my lights getting cut off?
"I'm a good guy that got caught up in a bunch of nonsense that was bigger than me."
He grew up in Hampton and worked as a general laborer until he got hurt. The first time, a forklift hit him. The second time, he fell off a roof. He says he is in constant agony and has taken prescription painkillers for the past 22 of his 52 years. He admits that he is addicted to oxycodone, which is what brought him to this little yellow brick jail.
He wasn't in office during the period the audit covers, and he hadn't seen a copy. But from what he's heard, it made it appear as if Hampton were being run by a coterie of crooks.
"I think that's not very far from the truth at all. They are either a bunch of crooks or a bunch of stupid people," he said with a rueful laugh. "I hate to say it like that, but it's the truth. I look like a crook sitting here in an orange suit, don't I?"
The way Moore sees it, he was targeted for arrest "as part of a systematic way to tear the town of Hampton down."
But why would anyone want to do that? Hampton seemed to be doing a pretty good job by itself.
'One heck of a debacle'
There are two reasons for the City of Hampton to exist: to provide water to 477 people and to protect the peace. Some 89 years after it became a city, the audit revealed how badly Hampton botched both jobs.
Nearly half the water the city pumps from the Suwanee River simply vanishes. Leaky pipes are partially to blame, but in some cases, the water goes to buildings without working meters. Some customers may have been getting free water for years.
Hampton's bigger problems grew out of the city's duty to "keep the peace." It led to what everyone calls "the annexation" in the early 1990s.
Somebody got the idea to snap up an easement along both sides of County Road 18 and a 1,260-foot stretch of U.S. 301. Because of the annexation, the bird's eye view of Hampton resembles a lollipop on a stick. Or, depending on your point of view, a fist with a raised middle finger. Most outsiders take the second view.
Hampton set up its speed trap, just like its neighbors, Waldo and Lawtey. Since Hampton has no schools, homes or businesses along 301, traffic safety really wasn't the issue. The focus always was on revenue -- and state and county officials say that's where the city went wrong. It's the crack that allowed corruption to creep in and take hold.
The key players in this chapter of the saga are the county sheriff and Hampton's chief of police.
Almost from the minute Sheriff Gordon Smith was sworn into office, he started hearing about Hampton and its speed trap. He couldn't go to the store or church or a Friday night football game without running into somebody with a gripe about the city.
At first, all of the complaints were about the speed trap. But as time went by, people started complaining about what was going on at City Hall, too. They told him they couldn't talk to anyone else. If they spoke up at City Hall, their water got shut off.
Smith is a bit of an anomaly: a Democrat in conservative North Central Florida. He's a redhead and fair-skinned. When something angers him, he sputters: "That makes my freckles pop."
He had started his law enforcement career on the police force in Starke, where he met another young officer named John Hodges. The two began as friends, but it didn't last.
Hodges became the police chief in Hampton. And what was going on in Hampton was enough to make the sheriff's freckles pop.
Hampton cops were a fixture out on U.S. 301. They sat on lawn chairs, pointing radar guns at unsuspecting motorists. They hid behind recycling bins. As more and more money came in, they idled in slick SUVs, trolled the median strips in riot gear and toted state-of-the-art firepower. Locals gave one the nickname "Rambo" because he slung an AR-15 rifle across his chest.
All to write tickets.
Money generated by the tickets was poured back into law enforcement.
They "were just out there writing tickets galore," recalled Moore, the jailed mayor-for-a-minute. "I mean, you can hear all those sirens all day long -- woo, woo, woo -- lighting up everybody. It got ridiculous."
The American Automobile Association's Auto Club of the South labeled Hampton a "traffic trap" and warned members about the town, along with Lawtey and Waldo, on its maps. The AAA also erected warning billboards along U.S. 301.
People complained that Hampton officers were stopping them without cause, leaving kids and pets in hot cars and impounding cars based on outdated allegations that surfaced in computer searches. The sheriff's department investigated some of the complaints, but those inquiries never went anywhere.
Hodges bristled at the interference. Smith said he asked the chief for a roster of his officers so they could be trained to use the county's radios and computers. He also wanted to verify that people who radioed in and said they were Hampton cops actually were authorized to run criminal records checks.
Hodges handed him a list of four names and indicated that 15 others either worked "undercover" or were assigned to "special details" and would not be named.
The ticket money continued rolling in: $616,960 between 2010 and 2012. Hampton's peak year came in 2011, when 9,515 speeding tickets brought in more than $253,000.
That was the year state Rep. Charles Van Zant got his speeding ticket. He says he drove directly to the courthouse in Starke and paid it. And, he insists, he carries no grudge. But later, he observed, "When I got my ticket, you couldn't hardly pass by Hampton without getting a ticket. You can say that's law enforcement, but no. That's banking using the U.S. highway system."
By 2012, Smith was playing hardball. He questioned whether the city had legally annexed the 1,260-foot stretch of U.S. 301; he said nobody could find a document recording the easement. He also believed that Hampton was illegally tracking cars with its radar outside the city limits.
He persuaded a judge to dismiss Hampton's tickets and cut the city's officers off the county radio and national criminal record database. He ordered his deputies not to accept Hampton's prisoners at the county jail.
Responding to the pressure, Hampton took down its speed trap. The ticket money for 2012 dropped more than 40 percent from the previous year.
Smith and Van Zant weren't finished with Hampton. They wanted to follow the money.
On April Fool's Day 2013, Van Zant asked the state auditor general to step in and go over the city's books. Lots of money was coming in, he observed, and Hampton had plenty of police officers and shiny new cars, but there was no sign that other services had improved.
Hodges did not return CNN's calls requesting comment. He has retired from his $400-a-week job as chief, leaving Hampton without a police force.
The sheriff's department has been patrolling the city for more than a year. Hodges has said he plans to run against Smith in the next election.
He told a local newspaper, The Gainesville Sun, that he considers the audit a one-sided political "witch hunt," even though he acknowledged he didn't read it.
Culture of entitlement
City Hall is locked up tight. Trucks parked out back have been stripped of parts and left to rust. The mail is piling up. There's no money coming in, so the last three employees have walked off the job.
It's as if Hampton has already given up.
Tough times can leave people feeling both deprived and, oddly, entitled. Listen closely, and you can hear that culture of entitlement when some folks from Hampton speak. Moore, the jailed mayor, talks about his disability checks as his "salary."
Smith, the sheriff, believes that folks at City Hall came to treat their government perks in much the same way. He said residents complained to him that police officers and other employees drove city cars home without signing them out. They took them to run personal errands at Walmart. When they filled them up at the BP station, they brought lawnmowers and gas cans from home too and put it all on the city charge card.
The audit was harshest on the former city clerk, Jane Hall. It did not accuse her of any crimes but called into question her handling of some of the city's business.
She acknowledged to CNN that she isn't the most organized person and had no formal training in bookkeeping or accounting. But the books always passed muster with the outside accountants the city hired, she said.
Hall was camera-shy when CNN visited Hampton but later defended herself at length during several phone conversations and e-mail exchanges. She provided spreadsheets and other documentation to support her points. She believes that the case against Hampton has been blown out of proportion.
The money that came in from the tickets went back into the police department, she said. And the police still outspent their budget almost every year.
Hall denies that she was overpaid by $9,000 and says the city's outside auditing company backs her up. The $27,000 on the city's credit card was spent on Christmas parties, flowers, gifts, a fall festival and other events, she said.
The auditors questioned whether parties were an appropriate use of public funds. But she pointed out that the audit never suggested that the card was used for personal expenses.
And she said she provided receipts for the $132,000 charged at the BP. It all went to gas for 10 city vehicles, including police cars, over a three-year span.
The audit also questioned several city checks issued to Hall's family members that were never cashed. Later, a single check in the aggregate amount was made out to Hall herself. She said that the uncashed checks were "payroll" and that if she employed family, it was because nobody else wanted the work. She said she spent hours working with the auditors after she stepped down but was never paid for her time.
Her husband, Charles Norris Hall, served on the City Council for years but didn't take his $125 monthly paycheck when the city was struggling financially, she said. (He resigned from his council seat last week.) It never was the case of a small-town big shot putting his wife on the City Hall payroll. Jane Hall had been a council member as well. She was first elected when she was just 22 years old.
"I think that some of the audit findings have either been misconstrued or deliberately skewed to show me in an unfavorable light," she said. "I do think the move to dissolve Hampton is completely unfair and don't understand who will gain by it."
There is little doubt that Hall has a strong personality and may have intimidated some people in Hampton and angered others. Residents say she spent the days sitting in her City Hall office, chain-smoking. Sometimes she'd turn on the little black-and-white TV and watch soap operas. She is not the type to pull punches.
But if the Halls, Hodges or anyone else in Hampton were getting rich off speeding tickets, they don't have much to show for it.
The Halls' home, a two-block stroll from City Hall, is hardly a palace. As a neighbor described it in a complaint to the sheriff's office, it seems like something from the reality television show "Hoarders":
"This property is full of debris and cars that are not tagged or registered. This yard is very unsafe. They have garbage that is all around their home. There are probably 30 cats and kittens that are running loose in her yard. Looking in her home windows, she is a hoarder."
The complaint describes "unsafe living conditions," including boxes stacked to the ceiling and "a porch so cluttered that a path has been cleared to pass through it all."
Hall responded with a typed, two-page letter asserting that the person making the complaint was doing so out of spite and "using your office as a tool to punish me for her anger against the City of Hampton that she for some reason blames on me." She added that the complainant had her own code violations to worry about and questioned why the county believed it had jurisdiction over the Halls' property, which was within the city limits.
As CNN walked the neighborhood, 81-year-old Jerry Warren grumbled at the nosy strangers about the "vendetta" he thinks is being waged against the Halls. He was quick to defend the couple, describing them as caring neighbors and "honest as the day is long."
Hall said she received three visits in one week from the sheriff's office. Two concerned the feral cats overtaking her yard, and one was to check on a child who came home from school with one of her grandchildren.
She said the visits stirred up the rumor mill. People were sure the police activity was audit-related.
"I certainly do not want any issues with the sheriff's department and have lived my whole life as a law-abiding citizen," she said. She thinks she being made to "look like some kind of criminal mastermind."
"That would be like saying Snoopy is Cujo's twin brother."
'Why is this even a city?'
The politicians in Florida's capital, Tallahassee, were gobsmacked by the audit when it was unveiled February 10 at a public hearing. They used words like "crazy," "outrageous" and "weird" to describe what they heard and struggled to find the right metaphors and points of comparison: Southern Gothic literature, John Grisham novels and Al Capone came to mind.
The city doesn't pay its bills on time, if it pays them at all, the audit says. It doesn't balance the checkbook or withhold employee payroll taxes or hold elections when it should. It doesn't maintain insurance on city vehicles. Record-keeping is hit or miss. The auditors were told that the records they sought were destroyed by an accident or in a flood. The water meter readings? Those were "lost in the swamp."
This was perhaps the most disturbing bit of news to come out of that hearing: City officials acknowledged that petty cash and money from water customers -- the city clerk often demanded payment in cash -- were kept together in a bag. When police said he needed cash to buy drugs for "undercover investigations," it came out of that bag, Smith and Van Zant said.
No records were kept, so nobody had a clue what happened to the money -- or the acquired contraband. This much is clear to Smith: No prosecutions resulted.
In the end, the auditors unearthed a problem far deeper than speed traps and mismanagement. They found evidence of what legislators called "wholesale corruption" and "abuse of the public." The vote was unanimous: request a criminal investigation, a forensic audit and a grand jury and look into getting a special prosecutor.
It was the outraged legislators' idea to take matters a step further and dissolve Hampton. They included Hampton's own representatives in Tallahassee, Van Zant and Sen. Rob Bradley.
"Why is this even a city?" asked Bradley, a former prosecutor whose district also includes the wealthier suburbs of Jacksonville.
It is an unusual step, and no one can recall the last time anyone in Florida pulled the plug on a city for corruption.
Acting Mayor Myrtice McCullough was the only person from Hampton brave enough to travel to Tallahassee and face the legislators in early February, when the audit was released. She looked like a deer in headlights.
"I know that all this stuff looks bad and is bad," she said, adding that most of the council members didn't know what was going on until the audit came back. "We're working really hard to address these issues."
She was asked then whether dissolving the city would have a negative impact on anyone in Hampton.
"I don't know how to answer that," she said.
If this were a script for a Hollywood movie, it would be time to cue the weepy, inspirational music.
McCullough gathered her wits and seemed ready to take on what needed to be done when she addressed the legislators a second time at a recent meeting at the county courthouse in Starke.
She is a lifelong resident of Hampton, and her mother was a popular mayor back in the day. She presented the legislators with a petition to Save Hampton, with about 120 signatures. She asked for their help in teaching Hampton how to function as a city again.
"We have a wonderful bunch of people in Hampton," she said. "I think our people deserve a chance."
Other residents said that they'd been victimized by the monkey business at City Hall and that taking their city away would only victimize them a second time. Two preachers spoke about forgiveness and redemption. One man called Van Zant a "bully" and accused him of "decimating Hampton because you got a speeding ticket."
Van Zant, a God-fearing man himself, denied acting out of spite.
"Read the audit," he retorted. "Enough said."
The first vote was unanimous: dissolve Hampton's 1925 city charter.
Van Zant agreed to delay taking the legislation before the full House to give Hampton a chance to show that it can govern itself. The city has just four weeks to make its case. If it fails, the House will probably pull the plug on Hampton, and the Senate will rubber-stamp its approval. Hampton then would become part of unincorporated Bradford County.
To survive as a city, the good people of Hampton must toss out the old regime at City Hall and bring in new people. Legislators said everyone must go, both elected officials and staff. The city has to get out of the ticket business and give up that finger of annexed land. It has to fix the water system and figure out how to dig itself out of its deep financial hole -- a prospect that could cost every man, woman and child in Hampton at least $500.
It's a tall order. There isn't much time.
"I want to see you succeed," Bradley said. "I want everyone to live in a community they are proud of. But I want everyone to understand that what happened was unacceptable. They should be outraged. I am outraged."
The lawmakers promised to return to Hampton in late March or early April to see for themselves.
Someone will have to find the keys and unlock City Hall, because it could be the biggest crowd since the AAA came to town in 1995 to label Hampton a speed trap.
Can Hampton save itself?
Across from City Hall, behind the BP station where the city ran up $132,000, a typical Hampton house with a No Trespassing sign slowly collapses into itself. Wires run from the house to a camper out back, and three small children play in the tall grass on a broken swing set, among the scavenged toys, bicycles, coolers and car parts.
The children seem happy; their shrieks of delight fill the air when they find a barbell and a wheel rim and make a game of it. Two sluggish men wearing sleeveless undershirts watch from lawn chairs.
This is Hampton, 2014. There's no mortgage on the house; that was paid off years ago. There's no job to go to, no money for this generation to keep the family place fixed up. They don't have anywhere else to go, anyway. This is home.
The malaise that grips the place comes from generations of limited opportunity. It creeps in, takes hold, kills hope and dulls the spirit. When you can't get a break, you learn not to expect one. Hampton looks like a dog that knows what it feels like to be kicked.
The most recent census data show that the average income in Hampton is just under $30,000; about a quarter of the residents live below the poverty line.
"It's just sad, sad that it's getting this bad," said 34-year-old Justis Smith, who has lived in Hampton most of her life. "This is embarrassing for all of us. I think people just got lazy, and nobody was paying attention."
Smith's family runs a successful business fixing up bank-owned houses, and she'd love to fix up Hampton, too, but she thinks the place might be too far gone.
"Right now, honestly, I'd be too ashamed," she said. "It's not all a town of bad people." She believes the current sad state of affairs "isn't necessarily malicious"; people at City Hall just "got a little careless."
For Hampton to make a comeback, "there will have to be a plan that provides confidence quickly," said Krassner, of Integrity Florida. "That community is going to have to find in their 477 residents some strong leadership quickly if their local government is going to continue. There may not be enough time and leadership in that community to restore trust."
But Mitzel, one of the former mayors, echoes the sentiments of many in Hampton when he says a whole city shouldn't die because a state representative got a speeding ticket and two law enforcement officials couldn't get along.
He hopes Tallahassee will give Hampton another chance.
"The government bailed out General Motors. The government bailed out Chrysler. Why can't the state of Florida bail out the City of Hampton?"
He has launched a campaign to "Save our Town of Hampton, Fla." It even has a Facebook page. And 81 followers.
By Ann O'Neill
CNN

The-CNN-Wire

™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

I love this quote the best! "The FBI can be reached around the clock, every day of the year, at 210-225-6741. Electronic tips can be submitted anonymously at https://tips.fbi.gov.
The Texas Rangers maintains a public corruption unit; the Rangers’ Austin headquarters can be reached at 512-424-2160 or rangers@dps.texas.gov."...
In my personal opinion, the only way anything is going to get done, is forcing city council to contact one of the two numbers above. It's time we call their bluff. Like the song says, " You got to know when to hold them , know when to fold them. "
Well, maybe its time to call in the Ace. We may have to go another route, if we can not get Kilpatrick, to hold to his words he spoke at the KDHNEWS Forums. After Mrs. Teel said if she was elected she would call in the FBI, all of them agreed, Fleming, Kilpatrick and Harris. Harris has stood up, now we need to get a phone in his hand. Fleming well she don't have a back bone, unless she has her special interest groups, telling her what to do. Next time we vote, maybe we should look pass the Double FFs and just remind ourselves, God puts things where they fit and sometimes they don't fit in ones pants so they are place hire. We need to look more into the special interest groups that backed some of them, and I have a feeling some if not all lead back to the same one. Look up Ft Myers Florida 2016 corruption.

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@Pharon Enochs: Yes, I agree with on the who what where when and how, but this city doesn't believe in straight forward planning and scheduling, nor does it believe in task management as in the view of effective contract writing. No they would tether cloud the issue, banter back and forth in what is in the contract rather than what is in in the contract planing on dragging it out long enough that people will loose interest.
And as to the verbiage relating to what is in the meeting minutes verses what, by virtue of if no meeting minutes were ever taken verses his recollection of what the meeting minutes were have been said. Phooey, it'll be a cold day in H*ll when I believe that. He couldn't even remember, correctly, the April16 Herald article in which councilman Kilpatrick's claim that all previous audits were clean. How then do you think that this man will recollect the previous minutes of meetings????
No as to the problems we are having with this 'city management', what with the delays, the innuendos, and the general course that this city is following, nothing will be reported to the city and to the council themselves unless this city 'forces them' and takes action to acquire such action, instead of posturing to take an action, which never materializes, it just keeps dragging on and on.
As to this, a method of forcing the city into action, I have written to the Texas Rangers in an effort to 'get the ball rolling'.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

Pharon Enochs

The following comments are indeed the opinions of Pharon Enochs. I read this article then I reread it during both times I was shaking and scratching my head both times. The article itself was very well planned and laid out. If only the city's procedure for reviewing the audit had adhered to the old stand-by cover who, what, when, where,why and how in planning . Rather than do this first place, the city is now trying to play catch up. What was first shouted from the roof t, this contract is between the city council and the audit company no one else need apply. It has somehow moved to review by a committee, the committee reports to council then it is reviewed by the city manager and his executive staff .( I pause here to ponder what is an executive staff. Could the terms city manager cheerleaders or yes men and ladies be used as well? There are several other terms which come to mind but I leave these up to others to vocalize) It is unknown when or if the taxpayers will see the audit or who the great greek god will be who grants this generous token to them. Somewhere along the line Kilpatrick and the committee will review the findings and will decide if the audit covers all issues requested by the council. It seems to me Kilpatrick either did not read, misread or did not understand issues in prior audits hopefully he will do better this time. I did note minutes of this audit sub committee were not taken of it's past two meetings. Kilpatrick stated this would be taken care of this matter. Hopefully he can recall all of the discussion as it appears to me the council as individuals has different meanings of the word transparent. Speaking of the word transparent, this article covered some information in which Baldwin was addressing the council as to the role of administrators role in the audit process.

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
This article headlines are Quote: Killeen council, panel to get first look at preliminary audit findings.'
The very first sentence is and I Quote: 'The public won’t have any new information yet on the investigation into Killeen’s finances, but the Killeen City Council and city managers will be getting a glimpse, end quote'.
First I would like to point out, 'Who's the panel' who are getting the first look???? And at what is this 'first glimpse going to incorporate', and why is this panel going to get the first look anyway????
I stand firm on 'Why doesn't this city management team want to allow the public to have an open book to what this city is going to allow the citizens an open access to. Let's for once 'open the books so to speak in allowing the citizens access, unfettered access.
Copy: 'A council subcommittee and the City Council will review auditors’ executive summary and decide Tuesday whether the public accounting firm satisfied the requirements of its contract to examine city finances.' End of copy.
This are the same people who have been responsible for the problems encumbered this city in the first place. First, if the city management team had any purpose other than to getting a contract that would cover all of the bases, these same individuals would have no problem in seeing what was written in this contract and would have no problem as to 'seeing what was covered because they themselves wrote the darned thing in the first place' so this garbage of 'having a select ad hoc committee, who haven't met since February, now want first dibs in looking at what this project covers, is 'bull'. I say again, 'bull'.
Copy: 'In a closed session at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the council’s Audit Advisory Committee will meet with Houston-based McConnell & Jones at City Hall.'
Continuation of copy: “The purpose of the meeting will be to present to them (the subcommittee) what their (auditors’) findings are in detail, and say, ‘This is it … unless you have any mitigating evidence otherwise, or any comments, this is what is going into the draft report,’” said City Auditor Matthew Grady.' End of copy.
Continuation of copy:The subcommittee will report to the council in a closed session at the workshop that begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Neither the council nor auditors have set any time to discuss it in public Tuesday.'
Continuation of copy: 'The firm’s findings will not be altered, City Manager Ron Olson told the Herald two weeks ago. Olson also has said the public will see the findings; it’s not clear when, however.' End of copy.
All I can say is 'DITTO'. We have gone full circle and we are at 'the same place as when we started, closed door session of the same 'group', but we will be $395,000 dollars further in cash outlay as before the expenditure, but the 'city management group' will be afforded the opportunity to say, 'but we've had an audit'. And 'who is the audit committee' that is now being introduced???? Now we have an audit committee who is going to be 'in responsible charge', the ad hoc committee that is going to have the final say to the council, and all of this going to be 'Behind Closed doors'. All I have to to say is 'Haw, Haw Haw'. How can you say 'that the public will see 'the findings; it’s not clear when, however.' This makes a mockery out of the whole process.
Copy: 'At the closed subcommittee meeting Tuesday morning, the panel headed by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick, who has opposed the audit, will compare the results of the summary with the firm’s contract.
If the subcommittee, which includes council members Shirley Fleming and Steve Harris, which are new members, are satisfied, auditors will continue with the investigation that is nearly complete, Grady said.
If the subcommittee finds the audit is lacking in some way, the council will review that decision Tuesday and discuss the next step. Options include giving auditors additional tasks.
Note: ' I am going on record that as to if a signed document, signed by both the city and the officer(s) of this corporation, and 'if the ad hoc subcommittee feels that any revision to the project document that was signed, that it shall be subject to a full council, in open session, and open to the public, not held in secrecy, to add or subtract from the original version, this being an unbiased document that shall have been a copy of the original document from the contractors.
Copy: 'Once the subcommittee is satisfied, Olson and his executive staff will be allowed to speak with auditors.' End of copy.
They are members of the Olsen and his executive staff????. If I remember correctly, the Charter call for 'a system of governing that shall be a city manager and the city council. Who other than Olsen and the city council is classed ',members of the city manager executive staff pray tell???? As this is a question I have been asking, who are the members, other than the city council members and the city manager, I think it is imperative that he question once again be raised and shall follow the framework of: 'The city manager, who shall be responsible for his executive staff, and it shall be noted, in public forum, who the complete membership of his executive staff are.' Who else can be and will be considered as 'The city of Killeen's general management team'.
If the subcommittee finds the audit is lacking in some way, the council will review that decision Tuesday and discuss the next step. Options include giving auditors additional tasks.
Question: 'What does this original document say???? I believe you had better not 'find this document in any way other than a clarification of points, otherwise you are asking for 'trouble'.
Olson and city staff plan to talk to auditors Wednesday and get a briefing even more detailed than the council’s.
Olson recently joined the city and was not here when transactions under scrutiny occurred.
Point of clarification: It was stated above that, 'Once the subcommittee is satisfied, Olson and his executive staff will be allowed to speak with auditors' now you are specifying that 'once the sub committee is satisfied, you then will be able, (allowed) to talk to the auditors'. Does this then say that this is 'another interlocutory sideline before the city council even gets to see this document'???? See below.
Copy: 'The firm’s findings will not be altered, City Manager Ron Olson told the Herald two weeks ago. Olson also has said the public will see the findings; it’s not clear when, however.' End of copy.
That statement is so full of holes. The firm's findings should not be altered. I would ask, 'which version, the original version or the altered one', and the statement, 'it's not clear when however'. That's like saying, you'll get a look at it, n thew year 2100 and not before'.
Copy, dialogue: 'Although federal grants and expenditures are not among the seven focal points, Olson said auditors could include the handling of federal money if questions were raised during the course of their investigation.
At the closed subcommittee meeting Tuesday morning, the panel headed by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick, who has opposed the audit, will compare the results of the summary with the firm’s contract.
Olson and city staff plan to talk to auditors Wednesday and get a briefing even more detailed than the council’s.
Question: 'Is this then a furtherance of the 2 previous comments????
Continuation of dialogue: 'Olson recently joined the city and was not here when transactions under scrutiny occurred.
Several other managers were here and are potential subjects of the audit, as well as participants in the audit’s progress. They include Dennis Baldwin, the former Killeen police chief who is now assistant city manager, Deputy City Manager Ann Farris and City Attorney Kathryn Davis.
Baldwin, as police chief, for more than 12 years until October 2016, received federal grants and handled large purchases for his department. As interim city manager Dec. 6, Baldwin recommended making a transfer of $1.67 million from the city’s solid waste ratepayer’s fund to the city’s general fund. The funds came from the elimination of the fleet replacement program. That program, which took money from the ratepayers fund and mingled it with operation fund money, was created to purchase new city vehicles.
The move was approved by the council Dec. 13, but even the city’s own finance director told the Herald it was a gamble. It also was described by city hall observer and Killeen resident James “Jack” Ralston as “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Farris, who oversaw finances from 2013-2016 as the assistant city manager and interim city manager, failed to tell council members and the public the city was in financial distress during that time period. As the council was gearing up for budget planning, Farris announced June 30, the city needed $8 million to balance the budget.
Davis is the city’s attorney and was in that role during the time frame under investigation. Davis regularly attends council meetings, including those when financial transactions were proposed and approved.' End of dialogue.
Copy: 'BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
What will transpire on the audit will be kept secret by the city for now.
“The only time that we’ll go into these closed sessions is because there might be sensitive discussions being made that don’t need to be made public at that time,” Kilpatrick said about Tuesday’s meeting.' End of copy.
What would be so sensitive that it would constitute 'a sensitive discussion that does not need to be made public????
Continuation of copy: 'Kilpatrick had cast doubt on his own commitment to the audit by previously opposing and voting against the audit, yet ending up head of the subcommittee created to work with auditors. The subcommittee met June 20 — the first time since February. Harris joined the subcommittee after the May election, replacing former Councilman Richard “Dick” Young.'
Now care should be observed in the following:
Copy: 'Davis attended the June 20 audit subcommittee meeting. When she reminded subcommittee members to approve previous minutes, none had been recorded for either June 20 or the meeting in February. State open meetings law requires a governing body to keep a record, in writing or audio, of what happens for public inspection. Because the subcommittee does not meet a quorum rule, the law does not apply. Residents, however, are not able to independently examine what happened in those meetings without minutes. Kilpatrick said it would be corrected.' End of copy.
Did you note, 'that 'subcommittee is exempt from quorum rules thereby releasing it from all obligatory rules and state laws'. In the future, I suggest that we ensure 'all such forums and committees not be exempt from any law'. We have a committee with the full authorization of conducting city business with being ever so much as a 'by your leave'.
Dalogue: 'Auditors’ two progress updates in public session to the council, May 2 and June 6, were night and day. The first indicated a misuse of public money with no context; the second provided neither.
If the audit finds criminal acts, the council can choose to prosecute, according to statements made to council members in November by McConnell & Jones.
But that depends.
If a violation involves federal money such as grants — which the city uses — the FBI can jump in without permission from the council, according to FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee, who previously spoke in generalities.
Ultimately, there must be a reason to believe a violation of federal law occurred.
An April 16 Herald article debunked Councilman Kilpatrick’s claim that all previous audits were clean. It spotlighted the results of a 2011 external auditor report by Temple-based Brockway, Gersbach, Franklin & Niemeier, that determined several “significant deficiencies” — at least some of them within grants management.
The report said the situation was corrected and management reviewed grant oversight procedures to address the findings. It was recommended the city designate one employee to control grants, who should be “independent of individual departments receiving the benefits of such grants.”
That position was not funded in this year’s budget, said city spokeswoman Hilary Shine in April. Grants are handled by departmental or finance staff, she said.
Routine municipal audits like the ones cited by Kilpatrick have been criticized nationally for failing to catch wrongdoing, and in extreme cases, as spotlighted in a Herald report April 9, failing to detect outright corruption.' End of dialogue.
And this doesn't touch on anything that the 'Whitis organization' is responsible for.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
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