Frankly, it is never fun to admit you’re wrong.
I was wrong.
Last week I wrote in this column the City owed the Chamber of Commerce $150,000.
This was an inaccurate statement.
The City owes the Chamber of Commerce $128,000, of which none has been paid since last July.
Contrary to our City Manager’s lengthy rebuttal, the bottom line is; the City has not paid their contractual obligation to the Chamber.
Deanna Santana admonished me as an individual lacking understanding of how our City works. Apparently, I am just an average Joe who doesn’t have his facts straight.
When I suggested an independent audit be done of our City’s finances, Santana went into a flowery two-page tirade of how the City has audits done regularly to enhance the City’s “transparency.” She was adamant that the City pays its bills on time.
She was very careful to avoid mentioning the money owed the Chamber and the million dollars owed the 49ers from the City’s overbilling charges, or the million they have not returned to the Tourism Improvement District.
The reason we need an independent audit is directly due to the audit performed on the Chamber last year by TAP International.
I provided a copy of TAP’s audit to a CPA firm that told me after reading it, this was not an audit, “It was a hit job.”
If our City is relying on auditors with the quality of TAP, we have a problem.
It is now apparent the TAP audit results were predetermined prior to being conducted.
If this is true, then it should create enough concern from voters that an independent audit be conducted free from City influence and oversight.
This is especially important since we now know there was a prior relationship between the TAP auditor and City Manager Deanna Santana.
If our regular City auditors are good enough to review our City policies, actions and finances, why not use them to audit the Chamber? Was it because they would not give the Council the desired outcome?
Trust relies on truth. The truth should not be relative, pliable or putty.
Truth does not have to be explained in a 50-page report.
Telling the truth is the sole objective of an auditor…unless it’s not.
The TAP audit of the Chamber does not pass the truth test. Yet our City Manager and City Council accepted this “audit” as the King James version, eviscerating the Chamber as community villains.
Are our City Manager and Council accepting City performed audits of this same quality?
That’s why we need a citizen’s independent audit of our City finances.
Enough doubt has been created in our City that if transparency is the target, it should be confirmed outside of City employee influence or elected officials’ oversight.
An independent audit committee, chaired by former Police Chief Steve Lodge, would be a great start.
Miles Barber was president of the Chamber board in 1984. He has continued to serve on the board periodically over the years.