Most people who catch suckerfish, like the Redhorse Sucker pictured above, throw them back into the Allegheny River. That's one of the reasons why the Allegheny River and County is full of suckers. Suckers for wanting a boy mayor to learn-on-the-job, for pursuing low yielding resource-consuming investments (see "Money Talks" in today's PG letters, for example) and for electing officials who shy away from the essential functions of their office.
Today, the PG reports:
Allegheny County Controller Mark Flaherty will audit the Port Authority's ledgers and help provide oversight of spending and other financial matters at the troubled county entity.This is the first time that the controller will be actively involved in the agency? An authority to which the county turns over $25 million annually? Mr. Onorato thinks that inviting the elected, independent controller will be a helpful tool. Onorato said the fiscal 'crisis' has been years in the making. Why didn't he assign Flaherty to oversee the budget when he stepped into office 3yrs ago. Why didn't Flaherty assert his rightful authority to oversee the Port Authority's budget so as to ensure the sustainability of such an important piece of the region's economic infrastructure? Why is this the first time the controller will be actively involved in the Port Authority?
It's believed to be the first time that the controller will be so actively involved in the agency, which has operating and capital outlays approximating $400 million a year, including $25 million of county funds.
"We've invited the elected, independent controller to look at the problems we've discovered and changes we think need to be made," Mr. Onorato said. "We think this will be a helpful tool" in view of the crisis facing the Port Authority. The agency last week approved a 15 percent service cutback.
From the Trib:
The audit appears to be the first by the controller's office of Port Authority, which has "resisted" previous interest by the county's elected auditor, said county Chief Executive Dan Onorato.So, what Onorato is saying is that only when he thinks it is important to keep the political heat off himself will he call the controller on the Port Authority's behalf to audit its budget. That doesn't seem to be an acceptable policy for fiscal responsibility. In fact that seems to be part of the process that got us into this mess and motivation for his challenger Rick Swartz to call for opening up the process of governing. Reframing this issue, it seems that Onorato's administration has been 'weak' on overseeing the management of public monies for public transit.
"It's going to be this administration that's going to fix the problem," Onorato said during a morning press conference in his office.
The authority requested Flaherty's involvement. Onorato called Flaherty on the authority's behalf Friday afternoon after the transit agency's board approved cutting routes and scaling back management benefits to cut costs.
The controller's office generally has not been welcome to audit financial records of many authorities, including Port Authority, Onorato said. The county contributes $25 million a year to Port Authority's budget.
The Port Authority "resisted", the controller's office "not welcome"? Does that mean an armed resistance? Does that mean they basically told the county to "screw off" when it asked questions about the $25 million it hands over each year? Does that mean the county controller and executive respond by saying, "duh, ok" and turn around to walk home when the Port Authority doesn't want to turn over its books to be audited? Any other organization that receives $.50 from the county would have to jump through all kinds of hoops to account for their spending of county money. No, the controller IS mandated to audit all county expenditures and failed to be responsible to the taxpayers. From the controller's office:
The Controller is the chief elected fiscal officer of Allegheny County and provides general supervision and control of the County's fiscal activities.Even better, the Audit Services Division of the office:
The Controller has the responsibility to prescribe and maintain the accounting systems of the County and the authority to conduct audits of all County expenditures and offices. The Controller is the final, independent check on the fiscal activities of the executive and legislative branches of County government, as well as the independently elected row offices.
- To examine and inspect books, records, files, papers, documents and information relating to all financial affairs of County offices and departments, political subdivisions and organizations which receive appropriations from the County.
- To review both the administrative control and internal control systems as established by row officers and department heads, and to determine that such control systems are adequate and effective in reaching their goals.
- To hold County officials accountable in their use of public funds and other resources at their disposal. This includes examination of financial statements and the legality and prudence of expenditures; the efficient use of resources including the elimination of wasteful practices; and the satisfactory implementation of programs.
- To determine whether County programs are achieving their desired objectives.
- To issue Audits & Reports resulting from post-audits of County departments and agencies detailing findings.