First this from yesterday's Los Angeles Times:
Bell's auditors should have spotted most of the alleged corruption, state controller finds - The state controller's office Tuesday issued a scathing review of the work performed by Bell's outside auditor, saying that most of the alleged corruption in the Los Angeles County city would have been identifies earlier had the firm done its job ... The long-awaited audit said Mayer Hoffman McCann repeatedly failed to follow basic fieldwork practices when it audited the city's books.
Mayer Hoffman McCann "appears to have been a rubber stamp rather than a responsible auditor committed to providing the public with transparency and accountability that could have prevented the mismanagement of the city's finances by Bell officials," State Controller John Chiang said in a news release.
Now if you were some bigshot Los Angeles accounting firm hired to travel on over to Bell and audit the books, and you couldn't find any improprieties in the way they were doing business, well, I suspect in light of all that came after you should probably be looking ashamed right now.
After all, haven't we heard in our particular precincts that once everything has been audited there can be no doubts about the veracity of a City's financial numbers? We were certainly informed of that in Sierra Madre when the water rate hike "process" was underway.
And apparently Mayer Hoffman McCann isn't the only group of folks that need to look ashamed right now. This from a letter that the Office of Pasadena City Manager sent to the Mayor and City Councilmembers there when this news first began leaking out a month or so ago:
A recent article dated November12, 2010 in the LA Times mentioned that the auditing firm for the City of Bell was Mayer, Hoffman McCann (MHM). This firm also audits the City of Pasadena. Andy Green, Director of Finance discussed this fact with the firm a number of weeks ago to complete necessary due diligence. MHM informed staff that they were working with the State Controller's office and had provided responses to the various inquiries made. MHM was informed by the State Controller's Office that a final report would include the responses received from MHM and would be available in the coming months. The finance department will review the State Controller's report when it is released and provide recommendations to Council as to any action(s) that may be required.
Well, the State Controller's report came out yesterday, and it certainly cannot be described as being in any way circumspect or unclear. John Chiang just basically lowered the barrel and let Mayer et cetera have it. Something that can have only embarrassed some folks over there in the Rose City.
While auditing has been a hit or miss thing over the last decade here in Sierra Madre, there is currently no indication that our City Hall employed Mayer Hoffman McCann in any capacity.
Though I suspect that there are plenty of other auditing firms out there who would be just as eager to not find things as well. I mean, who would want to hire one that wouldn't be?
Bonus Coverage - Mother Nature Cancels Green Advisory Committee Meeting!
Apparently a fickle Mother Nature put on her yellow tutu and forced the cancellation of last night's Green Advisory Committee meeting here in soggy Sierra Madre.
But we implore that you do not despair because we have the actual list of topics that were to be discussed. And in lieu of a more official meeting setting we will be holding forth on these issues (or a few of them, anyway) here on The Tattler. It is what we do. Or at least it is when we feel like it.
Energy: Adopt a citywide greenhouse gas reduction plan that reduces the jurisdiction's emissions by 25% by 2030, and which includes a system for accounting and auditing greenhouse gas emissions.
That 25% figure seems to be a closely defined amount. Nothing at all arbitrary about it. The only problem here is that this would be a 25% reduction from ... what? Apparently nobody quite knows the answer to that one. This observation from the GAC agenda paperwork:
GHG baselines are currently being researched. AB32 uses 1996 for its requirements, however there are many jurisdictions that are finding data unavailable or unreliable to attempt the 1996 year. Cities in SGV are contemplating a 2004 year.
So let me get this straight. AB32 is going into effect in 2012, yet nobody has scientifically verifiable numbers to set the greenhouse gas reduction baseline on? How very Sacramento!
Waste Diversion: Adopt a Municipal Code Ordinance that reduces the use of a disposable, toxic, or non-renewable product category by at least 50% by 2015 (or seven years).
I might be confused once in a while, but wouldn't 2015 be 4 years and a week or so away? When did that increase to 7 years? Is this change something Joe Mosca agendized?
The obvious target of this MCO (acronym alert) is plastic shopping bags. That would be the easiest non-renewable product category to get rid of since only a few businesses in town use them. None of which can afford a lawyer. But since every other city in California is doing this now, can't we be just a little more creative? I'd say get rid of glass beer bottles and have people return to the century old tradition of bringing tin buckets to the Buc or Lucky Baldwin's and filling them with their favorite brews. The Sierra Madre Sustainable Suds Scupper could be a tipping point in the fight for a better world.
Urban Design: Adopt a policy that mandates a green building rating system standard that applies to all new developments ... The newly adopted GBO (Gabbo) includes provisions for 2 optional tiers. The Committee could select among there tiers to create a rating system or possibly incorporate aspects of LEED or other programs for this.
Hmm. Since the whole LEED thing has been discredited pretty much anywhere people walk up on two legs, Sierra Madre would, as stated above, have to "create a rating system." But what would this rating system be called? Since this would be applied to new developments only, at least at the outset, we would need a name with some curb appeal.
My idea is that we hold a kind of Keno game. The person whose name is selected from all those paying cash money to enter gets the Sierra Madre green residential rating system named after him. Or her. Let's say your last name is Wackerdackle. If you're the winner in this lottery we're running, your name would be used by every real estate agent in the city when they sell a newly built home. Example:
"This home is has a Top Tier Wackerdackle Rating, assuring you and your guests it is a home that leaves behind the most minimal carbon footprint possible." Or if a home is built using especially stringent green practices, it could be described as being "Wackerdackalian."
Which means the house will cost an additional $100K. Of course. But who would actually enforce the standards necessary to guarantee that a home's Wackerdackle is sustainable? What if the owner has taken up smoking cigars or parking an 8 cylinder Dodge Ram pickup truck in the driveway?
Tough issues, my friends, will take a tough Committee.