McClure prepared by spending $1,000 of your money to have a forensic accountant review the practices of an embezzler, a low-level deputy who may have pocketed $125 thousand from the criminal division over five years. She was finally caught when she deposited her own checks for $300 and $45 into a bail bond account, presumably to cover an earlier theft.
Her folly has already resulted in an explosion of audits and criminal charges. It has hurt colleagues in the criminal division, hard-working people who really care about their job. We already know what happened. We even know why - a county worker simply had too much control over too many things. But that didn't stop McClure. He's got an election to win and had $1,000 to burn.
Armed with his $1,000 letter, McClure summoned Schimmel. The controller patiently explained his small staff follows directions from an outside auditor under contract with the county. McClure was having none of that. "You should come to council if you don't like something instead of taking the ostrich approach." When Schimmel quietly noted he has two less employees than he did twenty years ago, McClure accused him of wasting resources by doing "political audits" for previous councils. Really? Which audit would that be, Lamont? The one correctly predicting that a $111 million megabond would result in a tax increase? Or how about that silly audit revealing rampant countywide cell phone abuse, including a DCED director who rang up $1,388 in personal calls to arrange wife-swapping trysts? Shall I go on and start talking about those political bribery indictments?
After admonishing Schimmel, McClure demanded to speak with Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, our former external auditors. They agreed with Schimmel. "The controller can't dictate the scope of our audit or it will actually be an impairment." They also made clear that internal controls are a county responsibility. "It's your obligation to set policy."
Fortunately, that's now happening. Acting Director of court services Bill Hillanbrand has made certain that internal controls are in place. "The buck stops with me." He handed the committee a list of actions taken (sorry, I don't have the list), and introduced our new clerk of the criminal division.
Finally, a weary John Stoffa approached the podium. He looked tired tonight. He wasn't playing politics. He wasn't worried about his job. He just spoke the truth. "We collect cash in thirty-three different places. It's crazy. ... Sooner or later it's going to happen again because people are smart. ... I welcome auditors. But an audit is no good unless you follow up on it."
Stoffa's right. If someone wants to steal, he'll find a way. People are smart that way. I don't care whether it's Northampton County or Fort Knox.
Because audit recommendations were never implemented in the criminal division, a theft occurred. Did we need a $1,000 forensic auditor for that?
Soon after Stoffa spoke, McClure ended the meeting with another Sunshine Act violation. He never bothered to offer the public an opportunity to speak, and I pointed it out. McClure has that legal obligation. Fellow council members, Diane Neiper and John Cusick, should recognize this as well.
McClure's Sunshine Act violation reinforces what I already knew. His motives for last night's meeting had nothing to do with accountability or good government. It's just politics, bippy.