Sunday, November 11, 2012

No Answers Yet on Furniture Fiasco Investigation

The Standard Times ran a piece titled "City Council Sitting on Furniture Details."  However, story content pointed more toward paid city leaders not sharing the results of any investigation. 

Despite getting hundreds of pages of documentation on the unapproved purchase, the paper was not able to identify who signed the purchase order or put together a timeline showing:

1.  The beginning of communications with West
2.  When the purchase order was executed and who approved it
3.  When the furniture was delivered and installed
4.  When West first requested payment
5.  When the item was placed on City Council agenda for approval and by whom
This information may come, however there's another odd thing about the piece.  The Standard Times produced a story on the furniture fiasco without the name Wilde in it.  Water Chief Will Wilde stated in the October Council meeting, "We were given the furniture."  Any investigation needs to ask Will, by whom?  

The two names mentioned in the piece are  Assistant Water Director Tom Kerr and Assistant City Manager Elizabeth Grindstaff.  At the October Council meeting Grindstaff clearly stated the purchase occurred outside her bailiwick.

I wonder how many violations of city policy occurred in this one purchase? New City Manager Daniel Valenzuela deserves some latitude in this matter, as everything but the final approval occurred before his shift.  That said, enough time has run (nearly a month) for an investigation to be finished.  Time is not any investigator's friend.

The story stated:

City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said he might talk with Human Resources about what to do regarding the furniture purchase.

"I have a request I've submitted to HR," Valenzuela told me. "It's still an internal matter. It's something that is being addressed."
Public trust eroded with the unauthorized purchase.  Sharing the results and any corrective action will help regain that trust.  The only problem is another investigation calls regarding Will Wilde.  It involves Wilde's son Blake, fired as an engineer for the City, yet hired as a subcontractor on the Hickory Water project.

Might there be a drought of ethics in the City Water Department?  Rapid, thorough and transparent investigations are badly needed.  That's Valenzuela's responsibility.  It's a bad hand, but it's his to play.

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