GLOVER’S FIGHT TO KILL
by Elliott Stonecipher
EXTERNAL AUDIT ESCALATES
Since my report on this subject two days ago, Mayor Cedric Glover has escalated his efforts to kill an independent external audit into certain aspects of city financial management. Nevertheless, new expressions of public resistance to the mayor’s unseemly efforts have increased as well.
Glover’s very strong resistance to any external audit led he and his team to meet last Thursday with the Shreveport Times editorial board. In a very hopeful sign for the serially-abused-by-Glover taxpaying public, the Times was not convinced by the mayor, and its editorial today strongly supports the City Council’s authority and responsibility, to pursue an external audit if they believe such is appropriate. (SEE editorial here.)
As the Times recognizes, Glover’s real fight is with constitutional protections afforded the Shreveport public in and by our City Charter. The foundational balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of city government is implicit throughout the Charter, and explicit in the context of any mayoral abuses of power which a City Council may perceive. In the context of the current battle, when Glover’s actions relative to Grigsby & Associates (SEE a related Chicago Sun-Times article here) convince a majority of city council members that something is wrong and must be remedied, a responsible Council first orders-up an internal audit of the matter. If, as in this case, the mayor poisons that effort with repetitive acts of inarguable interference, an independent external audit is the remedy.
It is therefore the case that …
… Glover’s own actions brought about the need for that which he opposes and attacks, and
… our City Charter foresaw such a possibility, provides the remedy, and thus – if the Council approves a truly independent audit – is functioning precisely as written and adopted.
The Times editorial also noted the City Council’s failure (my word, not theirs) to take action to restore Council control of the city’s internal audit process. Just as this Council allows Glover to turn its own meetings into little more than a stage for the his bluster and self-promotion, so has it failed in many other ways to aggressively assert its critical legislative branch independence from the executive.
Meanwhile, back at Glover’s farm, the hands are working diligently to kill the audit, starting with yet another effort to postpone it long enough to pick-off a critical City Council vote or two. Attached to this e-mail is a Friday letter from Glover’s go-to man on the Council, and also its chairman this year, Sam Jenkins. Jenkins’ automatic salute to All Things Glover is one more way our city’s need for Council independence cries out, but what is more immediately troubling are repeated allegations from various sources that Sam Jenkins, just as Glover, has close ties with Grigsby & Associates. If that is the case, the Council chair should and must recuse himself from any and all related Council activities and votes.
What Jenkins’ letter foreshadows is an upcoming barrage of efforts by himself and others to kill the external audit. Glover’s history suggests that we will see legal threats, then legal action, in various forms. Some of these will be from and by the city attorney, and likely others by outside attorneys who Glover has blessed with lucrative legal contracts.
It is also very likely that we will hear loud protestations from Glover & The Gloverites that the cost of the audit is the problem. When they trot that one onto the stage, those who know Glover’s history will need to fight their gagging mechanism. Concern over cost?! – from Glover? – from a mayor who wants to add – he admits – at least a half-billion dollars more bond debt than he already has? For an audit cost measured in tens of thousands?
Glover’s last line of defense if the vote is taken and passed will be follow-up action to control the selection of auditors. Glover knows that if he, or Sam Jenkins, or the city attorney, or some in the City Council’s shop, can control the lawyers and CPAs in charge of the audit, he maintains control of the audit itself. For Shreveport taxpayers, this one is simple: if this audit is approved, and is actually conducted by any legal or accounting firm located anywhere other than out-of-town, picked by anyone other than Council members who vote in favor of it, it will be a total waste of time and money. (The need for out-of-town expertise does not extend to the offered pro bono help in audit “design” of local CPA firm Cole, Evans & Peterson.)
It seems very likely at this point that the chances for an external audit decrease dramatically if it is not approved by the Council at its Tuesday meeting. Furthermore, any number of amendments can effectively kill the audit, even with a majority vote in its favor.
The people of Shreveport must await and rely on City Council action invoking the protections afforded us by our City Charter.
For any reader who may not know, this and all other such analysis and commentary I forward to you has been done strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited, offered or accepted for this work.
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