The City of West Palm Beach has joined in on the fight for independent auditing. Welcome to the fray. Palm Beach County has spent over a year trying to finalize on an independent inspector general, and they are not finished yet. The final (maybe) piece is how to pay for it.
The City of West Palm Beach is in the throes of defining independence. Imogene Isaacs has resigned her 22-year job of internal auditor, because City Commissioner Keith James demanded she provide him each week with a list of every person she would meet or speak with, and a detailed description of her hourly actions. He said, “I don’t think we have an independent auditor. The charter is pretty clear that the internal auditor reports directly to the commission.”
There is the rub. When Palm Beach County’s state attorney called in a grand jury to rid Palm Beach of the title “Corruption County,” independence was the key feature of having an inspector general. The commissioners would be hands-off. The City of West Palm Beach has a charter that says: “to ensure independence of the audit function… an Audit Committee is hereby established.” The charter also adheres to “generally accepted government auditing standards, and must be free from personal, external and organizational impairments to independence.”
Commissioner James said he wasn’t aware that the charter addresses the auditor’s independence, and Mayor Jeri Muoio said, “The auditor works for the commission.”
Auditor Isaacs claims that James began harassing her after an investigation found millions of dollars spent on a housing project were unaccounted for.
Greg Daniel recently quit the audit committee, blasting the city as corrupt. Daniel also said the audit committee and Isaacs wanted a fraud and abuse hotline, but the commission wouldn’t approve one.
Do we now have “Corruption City” in the wings? Stay tuned. I am sure there will be more to follow.
Morley Alperstein, Wellington