It is no wonder that West Palm Beach leads 13 other cities in the lawsuit that refuses to pay for the inspector general. City Commissioner Keith James and Mayor Jeri Muoio are paying lip service to the inspector general and are not happy that the inspector general is getting involved in West Palm Beach’s business.
Recently, city officials failed to report, as directed by the inspector general’s ordinance, that three employees were paid for more than 300 hours they didn’t work. One wonders if Mayor Muoio even understands the inspector general’s duties or her scope. She first said that the inspector general did not have jurisdiction over the inquiry because the act occurred before the inspector general’s office had oversight. The ordinance gives jurisdiction for the inspector general to go back in time even before the office was created. Next, Mayor Muoio lamented that the inspector general was spending so much of its resources on the case.
Imogene Isaacs, the city’s internal auditor, reported the incident to the inspector general. She has since resigned, because Commissioner Keith James sent her a letter forbidding her to meet with “any person from outside the city without his permission,” and later called her a “rogue agent.”
None of the three accused employees were fired. In fact, their punishment varied between a three-day suspension, a written reprimand and a verbal reprimand, despite the fact that all three had been written up in the past for payroll reporting issues.
Once again, we can see the need for an independent inspector general. That does not seem to include 14 municipalities, especially the City of West Palm Beach. When will this fight end? Stay tuned more to follow.
Morley Alperstein, Wellington