Today is the day auditors from the State Comptroller’s Office arrive in Addison to conduct a routine audit of the criminal costs and fees at Addison’s Municipal Court. While “routine” it should be pointed out that this is the first time in 60 years that the state has audited the court system.
While the court is their primary focus, the Town has been advised that the audit could delve into other revenue sources that come under the purview of the Comptroller’s Office if they determine a need to audit other revenue sources as necessary.
You will recall that the preliminary Kanter report of the transition review found that financial controls during the previous administrations were so lacking that the Town “was at risk of an inability to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and or misapplication of assets.”
Putting the findings in layman’s terms, Kanter reported, “The town’s basic checks and balances were so weak or nonexistent that it will be very difficult or even impossible to determine if money and or assets were misappropriated in the past.”
Most of the cash and cash items received (other than events, property taxes and water bills) are processed through the Municipal Court. Kanter’s goal was to assess the policies, procedures and processes around the fines assessed, collected and/or adjusted through Addison’s Municipal Court System. Here’s what Kanter reported:
“Offenses were managed in paper folders with extensive handwritten notes that required detailed analysis, making it very difficult to determine whether the fine recorded as collected in the court accounting system was the fine that was actually supposed to be collected or turning that around — whether the fine that was supposed to be collected was actually collected. A few notes on some folders were covered with ‘white-out’ correction fluid.”
Kanter explained that because it was difficult to determine if what was supposed to be collected was actually collected that they next looked at the Court Accounting System.
“Look at the Offense date as recorded in the computer,” he said, pointing to a slide of an extract. “You will note in this file, the Offense is recorded as occurring after the first transaction. A system that allows this type of situation makes it very difficult to determine the validity of transactions.
“Let’s go back to the Court file. What is the Offense Date? It would take as much as a full hour of one-on-one meetings with the Judge and/or the Court Administrator, per file, to get even a basic understanding of what was supposed to have been collected and deposited into the Town’s bank account.
“It became very clear that the Municipal Courts had never been subjected to a detailed study of their accounting process and procedures. It was also apparent that the transactions generated by the Municipal Courts have never been properly reconciled.
“The procedures, processes and controls observed are indicative of an accounting system that makes it difficult for the Town to even detect (much less prevent) a fraud or misapplication of funds.”
Fortunately this Council has responded to recommendations from Kanter to implement COSO standards to the financial procedures, processes and controls to ensure that the lack of financial controls of the past will not continue into the future. While highly criticized by some, it would seem that most taxpayers are in agreement that this was the right thing to do.
Do What’s Right and Tell the Truth
It is sad to say, but once again it appears that it has become necessary to point out several inaccuracies, discrepancies and misinformation bordering on lies. Voters have the right to have the truth in order to make informed and wise decisions before they vote. So once again we share with you some of the recent deceptions and manipulation of facts and present to you real facts … the truth.
“That’s not what I said,” writes Paul Walden, attempting to walk back and deny a response he made to an irate business owner at the Addison Business Association’s Candidate Forum who expressed anger at not being able to use the athletic center.
Fact: Having personally heard his response, and having confirmed what he said by checking back with at least six other attendees, Walden responded that he believed something could be worked out for business people that didn’t live in Addison
Walden criticized the Mayor for using his own money to pay for mailings to support candidates of his choice.
Fact: It is perfectly legal for the Mayor or any Council member to support any candidates of their choice and ethical for one’s own money to be used
However, Walden doesn’t question the fact that the former City Manager not only supports his campaign, he actually orchestrates its strategy.
Fact: A quick call to check with the International Association of City Managers confirms that Mr. Whitehead is still a member
The association has a strict Code of Ethics that includes politics.
Addison Police Association doth protest too much
In a post by the association (no specific name given), they criticize two of the incumbents for not returning their questionnaire (there’s more to that than meets the eye but you’ll have to talk to the candidates for the ‘rest of the story’).
They also have felt the need to state, “At no time during our discussions or in the questionnaire did any candidate promise pay increases or anything of the sort in return for our endorsement.” While no promises may have been made, it is quite clear that money, and how the candidates answered those money questions, totally drove their endorsement decision.
Fact: Fifty percent of the questionnaire dealt with money questions
There has been no transparency as to how the favored candidates answered any of those questions.
It appears that despite the incumbents being part of the Council that approved the largest raise in Addison’s history, they now want to get rid of the Council members who provided the raise and have three men replace them. What’s the real reason why?
An attempt to discredit Mary Carpenter
A post took comments made by Mary Carpenter months ago out of context in an obvious attempt to discredit her, saying, “Council member Mary Carpenter, who is up for reelection, recently said ‘Multi Family has always meant renters … and renters are transient residents’.”
Fact: Taken out of context this sounds disparaging. However Mary’s full context provides a reality that is hardly disrespectful, merely fact-based information
You can read Mary’s entire response on the Facts Matter Facebook page.
Suppressing a respectable citizen’s views
When Elliot Moore, a taxpaying resident of Addison, challenged the Facebook post taking Mary Carpenter’s comments out of context, Jerry Stephens chastised him with a rant, telling him “Why don’t you and your friends go enlist in the military, fight the war, then report back to us how it went. Go learn something about reality and maybe someone will care what you think.”
Fact: Elliot Moore proudly served his country as a Navy officer, thus posted his photo in uniform along with his response
The respect shown to this honorable man? The website controllers who scream for transparency deleted his response and banned him from their Facebook page.
Beyond Facts — The Ugly Truth
My apologies for this FM being so long but unfortunately the negative tactics are mounting and there are two more shameful incidents that must be brought to light — both which border on character assassination. It is disgraceful how vile it has become.
Fact: At Tuesday night’s Council meeting Guillermo Quintanilla once again availed himself of the public comment session
He not only maligned the Mayor but this time he also vilified the incumbents and shamelessly promoted the opponents. If you can stomach his malicious delivery of character assassination you can watch it for yourself on the Town’s website. This is the kind of disgraceful embarrassment to Addison the opponents have stooped to.
Fact: Additionally, at the end of Mr. Kanter’s very positive report of the progress being made by the staff to implement and begin to put in process the 32 recommendations he made, the Mayor had to publicly put to rest one more appalling falsehood being rumored by the opponents’ supporters
“Have you ever met my daughter?” Meier asked Kanter.
“I’ve never met your daughter, I don’t even know her name,” Kanter replied.
“Have you ever taught my daughter at SMU?” Meier asked.
“I don’t even know her name but I don’t think I’ve ever taught anyone named Meier,” Kanter answered.
“I’ll help you,” Meier said. “She didn’t go to SMU. And, I appreciate your response but there’s a rumor circulating and I’m just going to ask you this as bluntly as I can — I apologize for it — but that you taught my daughter at SMU in accounting and she got good grades, thanks to your intervention on her behalf, and that as a result I’ve repaid you by hiring you.”
Stunned and taken aback, Kanter responded, “That’s ridiculous. I have never met you, I don’t live in Addison ….”
Kanter then revealed that he had also heard a rumor that he had led a fire engine refurbishment effort and told Council that he liked fire engines but had nothing to do with that. Ivan Hughes injected a suggestion that Kanter could support that effort which brought a moment of laughter but the tone quickly returned to a serious mode as Meier expressed his appreciation at everyone having a moment of humor but noted, “It really is an insult to my daughter.”
“And, an insult to me,” Kanter concluded, thus demonstrating one more embarrassing moment for Addison.
These intensifying insults, disrespectful distortions of facts and personal attacks have reached an unconscionable and reprehensible point at which they do an incredible disservice to this Town and its residents. But it does predict one unfortunate truth.
By the opponents condoning this disrespectful behavior from their supporters, it only foretells the town’s future environment if facts don’t matter with each and every vote.
Photo: Detail of lenses from Fede Galizia’s 1598 Portrait of Paolo Morigia