Audit request sent to state controllers

Council meet Friday to hammer out details
By: Stephanie Dumm - News Messenger Reporter
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A letter requesting an audit of the city’s finances was sent by the City Council to the state controller’s office March 15. The final letter was placed on the city’s web site on March 16. During the March 8 City Council meeting, Councilman Tom Cosgrove presented a draft of the letter, which he said would be accompanied with a list of concerns ranging from the city’s audits to the legality of Measure K. A special council meeting took place Friday afternoon so all five members could review the letter and a list of questions attached to it. The controller’s office has yet to receive the letter and review it for a response as of press time, according to Garin Casaleggio, deputy communications director for the state controller’s office. The March 11 meeting was quickly organized after Councilman Spencer Short insisted March 8 that he see the list of questions before it was sent off to the state controller’s office. “I want to make sure that (residents) understand we have been transparent and have put the facts out. I will support moving forward because I believe it will prove everything we’ve said,” Short said on March 8. “I do have a problem voting on something I haven’t seen. I would like to see the entire list.” Present at the March 11 meeting were all five City Council members, city of Lincoln records coordinator Dia Gix and Lincoln resident Terrie Robinson. Short provided the council with an “alternate proposal, neutral language amendment” of the list of questions provided by Cosgrove on March 8. Cosgrove and Joiner went over the letter and questions on March 10 and made changes in order “to capture the intent of the questions asked and tried to be as specific as possible to the issues.” “I took out some of the statements, asked the basic questions in a more broad way to elicit a response and still have the intent of each question,” Short said about his alternate proposal. “I asked more open-ended questions so they (state controller’s office) could feel free to ask questions. If we want to get to the heart of the matter, we have to have an open-ended question so they can feel free to discuss it.” Joiner asked Robinson to weigh in on the questions, since he said they were questions she had sent in. Robinson said they weren’t solely her questions but “things I’ve heard from other people.” “I think there are very specific questions people want a specific audit of, financial questions, not legal questions,” Robinson said. “They are questions that have floated around for quite some time.” There are eight questions on Short’s list, and eight questions on Cosgrove’s list, and address topics including the city’s failure to complete audits of the city’s finances, inter-fund loans, Measure K and the $3 million in “unrealized investment losses.” Short mentioned the recall while the council discussed question eight, saying that the $3 million unrealized investment loss was the reason cited by Lincoln resident Bob Birdseye for the recall. The council voted to send the controller’s office a list of questions that are a blend of Short’s and Cosgrove’s questions. On Friday, Joiner said he would work over the weekend to write up the letter and list of questions to send to the state controller’s office on Monday. The News Messenger asked Robinson after Friday’s meeting what she thought of the blended versions of the questions. She said that "citizens too would send letters to the state controller’s office" and that the letters and questions “are still a step in the right direction.”