Someone Should Audit Francis
By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – According to the mayor of Windsor, an Edgar Francis, the city of Windsor has only had four audits over almost the same number of years and it has added up to an expenditure of $4 million dollars.
Francis revealed this to broadcaster Tony Doucette on CBC Radio July 4, 2012. Although Francis was not ready to accept this as a cost of doing business he was not about to reveal his view on whether the city should hire an outside accounting firm or hire its own staff to operate an internal audit department.
He did claim that his council was split down the middle and it took mediation on his part to eventually hire its first auditor general Todd Langlois. Langlois will probably be the city’s first and last auditor general. While he apparently proved to be quite rude, and had to be fired, this has yet to be put to an audit.
Oddly, without saying so, in his usually manner Francis did expose his preference saying that if council did decide to go for a two-peat and have its own auditor general the inwards on its selfish council would have to find the money to pay for the person in the position. He did not explain where the money would come from to pay for the outside auditing firm which some say would be more expensive than an internal staff.
Francis did allege that outside resources would be better than inside ones because the city would have access to more skill sets that are typically housed in large accounting firms with many employees. If the city goes it alone its internal staff will have a range of skills that is limited to those it hires. It seems that those skills have some value, given the mayor believes the city is all set for the auditing process just using what Langlois put together and this would sit nicely as content for a request for proposal.
If the mayor succeeds in outsourcing the audit function he might also consider outsourcing his council. Right now it has to deal with the limited skills of the inwards. However, if an external firm was hired to replace the councilors the city would have access to a multitude of the skills it sorely needs. Maybe that is the next step in outsourcing. And why not?
Francis also pointed out that only a very small percentage, something like five, of all municipalities in Ontario actually have an auditor general. Francis has become quite adept at using statistics. He wants to destroy local parkland because a study said the city is above the average in the amount of land dedicated to parks.
Yet he has no comment on what he will do to bring the city up to snuff on naturalized lands. There, according to the same study, the city comes up short but no one seems as concerned about that as they are about Windsor suffering from too much parkland.
Francis made his comments the day after a law firm decided that the claims of a toxic environment at city hall, levelled at the city by former lead auditor Angela Berry, were groundless. This is good news because no one wants to know that such environment lives in the rose city. But, as usual, the city elected to withhold any information on the lawyer’s report for some 17 days. No explanation was given by the mayor on why taxpayers were not immediately informed of the decision. It is certain that no audit will be done to discover why there was a hold-up.
It is also very interesting to see the city spending $4 million on audits.
As is typical in the city, news of this magnitude is hidden away which does nothing but prove that the city is doing a very poor job of communicating with taxpayers. If what the mayor says is correct, why has the city not kept citizens abreast of what is happening?
Francis did not let Doucette in on what these four audits were. The only celebrated big buck audit that is widely known is the one Doug Schmidt mentioned on February 17, 2010 of the 400 building “fiasco,” as he called it, that he reported cost $600,000. It was done by an outside firm.
Francis says a lot of stuff, but, as usual doesn’t really provide much backup. Consider that he would like the denizens of the city to believe that the International Children’s Games are held under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee but provides no evidence simply because, probably, there isn’t any. It might be a good job to audit the things that come out of the mayor’s mouth.
Notwithstanding, if local activist Paul Synnott has his way the inwards on council will not make this monumental decision to outsource the auditing function, as a so-called report suggests, on their own. Synnott is working to have a number of delegations present their views at a scheduled meeting of council on July 9, 2012.
It is imagined that the inwards will accept the information that is presented by the delegates, make their own decision – why should they listen to the taxpayers, they live in a windowless chamber – and then promise to have the information audited and put on the city’s website for all to see, just like they put all the comments from the Neighbourhood Advisory Groups (NAGs) on the city website. No, wait it didn’t even though it promised it would. In this case the inwards will just claim that there was no one to audit the information.
Maybe it would be good just to audit the promises of the inwards. They seem to say a lot and do little or, as in the case of the NAGs, the opposite of what they say.
In the end, however, all these zigs and zags have left the city with no auditing and that may be part of the plan given there are so many things being done without parental supervision that could use an extra pair of eyes including the building of airport maintenance hubs and swimming pools with no business plans or market studies.
For more of the Rest of the News listen to CJAM 99.1 Monday evenings at 8:30.
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