They’ve done everything but take out a “work wanted” ad in the newspaper, these people.
And still, the Lincoln City Council is apparently too busy to put its own audit board to work.
For years, some council members complained that the city needed an independent audit board to make sure things are being run the way they’re supposed to. Jon Camp was one of the biggest proponents. But suddenly all those bright ideas about auditing the fire department have been extinguished.
Finally, three years ago Mayor Chris Beutler gave in to their demands and blessed them with their very own “audit advisory board” with the authority and money to do performance, internal and financial audits.
Since it began meeting in 2008, the board has been given precisely one task (and not a very sexy one): audit fund balances.
This group of volunteers has dutifully continued to meet occasionally, even if there’s little more to do than inspect the minutes of the last do-nothing meeting.
More than a year ago, the board sent a letter to the council, politely asking if they had any work for them. Still, nothing.
The board even forwarded a list of ideas for them to look at, including an examination of city fees compared to other cities; purchasing card use; department audits and use of overtime. All good ideas.
This is my problem with the City Council: It’s too reactionary. Most members just wait for the mayor’s issues or initiatives to come to them, and then vote on it, and then wait for the next issue. I know it’s a strong-mayor system here, but I expect my council members to do their best to accomplish a few things, too. And having a $100,000 budget to make sure the city is running properly seems like a good place to start.
Cal Fussman — one of the best journalists out there — has an interview with Jeff Fortenberry in Esquire online. (A shorter version appears in print.) He actually got Fortenberry to say some interesting stuff. Like this: “I used to be on the Lincoln City Council. You learn that there’s never enough money for all of the police officers and fire-fighting apparatus you’d like to have. There’s never enough money to manicure the parks as perfectly as you’d like to see them. So you have to make decisions: What are reasonable fees and taxations, and what are the reasonable services to be delivered to your people? In Nebraska, we have to balance our books. That’s a good lesson for America.”