Rick Akin: Whom do you trust?

“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves.” — Thomas Jefferson

This year’s election presents, perhaps more starkly than usual, the same choice that Thomas Jefferson pointed up as an issue that had been of long standing even 200 years ago. Before you mark that ballot, I would ask you to give this some thought.

Simply put, who is better able to manage your affairs — you or the government? While both political parties have a tendency to extol the virtues of expansive government more than I would like, plainly the liberals (or as they like to call themselves, the “progressives”) are in the forefront of expanding government.

As Jefferson correctly points out, this is nothing new. The Declaration of Independence states as a fundamental principle of this country that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” To my thinking, this is entirely accurate.

By contrast, however, Woodrow Wilson, in many ways the father of modern progressive philosophy, said, “Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence. ... The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day. It is of no consequence to us.” As he further elaborated, “Omnipotence of legislation is the first postulate of all just political theory.” Wilson obviously trusted the government and not the people. While few modern liberals would put it so plainly, by necessity, this is the foundation of their worldview.

I say the liberals are wrong, morally and practically. By definition, as the powers of government expand, the rights and freedom of the individual contract, and this is the moral problem with the liberal approach. I don’t know about you, but I object to the limitation of my liberty. You may not be so concerned with this because you think that the government is reining in someone else, but I can assure you that if you allow the government to extend its power, your day will come. Just remember that to everyone else in the world, you are that someone else to rein in.

Practically, the liberals’ confidence in government is just misplaced. Throughout history, it has not been the government on the forefront of innovation but the individual operating in a free market. Study after study demonstrates that where the markets are most free, the people are more prosperous. While in freer markets the spread between the richest and poorest is greater, nevertheless, the poorest are financially better off. The aim of the conservatives and libertarians to limit government, therefore, is not because they are cruel and heartless. Rather, it is because they want to give everyone the opportunity to prosper. Government control limits prosperity, and it always has. Free individuals, and not the government, are who create prosperity.

And so, before you cast that vote, I would ask you to consider: Whom is it that you trust?

Rick Akin is an attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs, Denver and Austin, Texas; a former member of the Pilot & Today Editorial Board; and vice chairman of The Steamboat Institute.

Community comments

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(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...

"1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes."

Sounds like Mitt Romney to me.

Oddly enough, it also sounds like Diane Mitsch-Bush, who seems to only hear her own political ambitions. There are better choices on both sides of the aisle.

Posted 13 October 2012, 10:14 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

NASA, the military, publicly funded university research.... these are the benefactors of enormous technological and medical strides in our country and in our economy. All are predominately products of government.

Urban planners, realtors and builders... all will tell you that zoning regulation promotes higher property value. Again a product of government.

Rick, your wholesale distrust of government goes too far. And you ignore obvious counters to your text. It makes your writing appears extreme. Haven't we proven it is the worst of all worlds when the two parties cannot find common ground? Lighten up, dude.

Posted 14 October 2012, 2:02 a.m. Suggest removal

(max huppert) maxinc says...

Ron Paul 2012

Posted 14 October 2012, 7:27 a.m. Suggest removal

(bill schurman) expublicdefender says...

Rick,."In whom do you trust"? Not you, saith, I.

Posted 14 October 2012, 8:18 a.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

I take it as a given that one cannot erase the effect of personal attacks in a blog. The likely result would be the opposite, and prolong or deepen the insult. Either way, trading insults is no way to spend one's weekend.

But George, I have read too many disparaging comments from you. It shouldn't matter, but the reality is these people you attack in such a negative way actually spend many hundreds of hours of service to this community. Because my own wife gives a lot, I occaisionally pitch in too. When I do show up, I commonly see Catherine Carson got there 2 hours before me. Without fail she will still be there after I have left. In particular, I'm drawn to comment here by the image of Catherine handling my trash after the free summer concerts. Humility and hard work is the image I understand of Catherine.

It's fine to rage against wrong decisions. But make your case on the merits of the decision. Raging against others' characters is something you will eventually regret. A road I have traveled myself. Please give it a thought.

Have nice day.

Posted 14 October 2012, 12:01 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

If you have any influence with the YVHA board members then please ask them to fix the public record and come clean about the firing of Mr Krawzoff.

I have no idea if his various claims are true, but it is obvious that YVHA board is lying about his termination.

According to YVHA board, while they hold a job performance meeting in executive session, they did not make any official decisions in executive session. A decision to terminate is not allowed to happen in executive session. And from my open records requests, they deny making any decisions in executive session.

So their story is that the executive session was limited to a proper discussion of Mr Krawzoff's job performance. After leaving executive session and ending the public board meeting then Board Chairman on his own initiative decided to offer Mr Krawzoff a 2 1/2 month severance package. Then when Mr Krawzoff declined then the board chairman, again on his own initiative, fired Mr Krawzoff. These decisions, made minutes after the board meeting ended, were not then official until a month later when ratified by a special YVHA board meeting.

That is not some crazy conspiracy. That is their minutes and why they have nothing from executive session to release to the public. It is thus highly likely that a COML lawsuit that would then cause a judge to review the minutes to see if any off topic or decisions were made would be successful. But that lawsuit is beyond my skill level and that is won is costs and fixing the public record. Newspaper is not willing to pursue it and so their lies remains the official public record.

That the local chair of the Democratic Party is involved in this and local elected Democrats have been silent is shameful.

The worst part of this scandal is that YVHA Board could so easily rectify it. First off, executive session is for the board's convenience and the board can always hold personnel reviews in public or decide to make executive session public. Thus, they can release either a complete or redacted minutes of the executive session without legal threat. And just admit to the minor sin of making a decision during executive session. And since it wasn't decided in public then it was not a binding decision so it didn't take effect until they discovered their mistake and held a special meeting. Problem solved. But the cover up is often worse than the crime and YVHA Board has instead decided to go all in with the cover up.

If they want to keep to this lies then YVHA Board members should expect this to be the end of their political careers. Any capable future political opponent can use this to show what to expect of the previous YVHA Board member. Improper executive sessions followed by lies.

Posted 14 October 2012, 2:30 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Or that YVHA Board members during this episode admitted to being totally inept. That somehow they can hold a job performance review, make no decisions about Mr Krawzoff's future in his job and yet tolerate their Board Chairman immediately making fundamental decisions without any review or decision by the rest of the board. That none of the board express any concerns about what the Board Chairman does on the spur of the moment.

By their account of what happened then then Board Chairman immediately after a board meeting makes major financial and policy decisions without consulting the board. That is seriously messed up. The board is then so passive and cowardly that they do nothing other than subsequently ratify the Chairman's decisions.

Why should the public want any of these people in any other public office?

Posted 14 October 2012, 2:47 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

From what I have read, the YVHA board may have improperly reached a decision in executive session. If so they reiterated the same decision in their next hearing to correct that mistake and publicly affirm the decision. I do not consider that a scandal. (The common practice among similar boards of destroying exec session tapes suggests to me few such boards have perfect executive session boundaries.)

And that was the sum of it, to my knowledge, until hearing George filed his larger complaints with the government. YVHA silence, since George's complaint, is probably what any defendant would do. And do so at their attorney's direction, rather by attribute of their character. I see no scandal there either.

George is using the recourses available to him for justice in his grievance. I think it appropriate to wait for his results.

Posted 14 October 2012, 3:36 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

But that is what the YVHA Board through their minutes and rejection of open records requests deny that happened.

If they improperly reached a decision during executive session then that part of the executive session discussion would legally be part of the public record. They deny they made any decision during executive session, but instead claim that the Board Chairman, with no input from anyone else, made those decisions on his own initiative immediately after the July board meeting. And thus, the termination did not legally take effect until ratified at the subsequent special YVHA board meeting.

George would appear to have no legal claim that he was not terminated at the August meeting.

His complaint to the USDA questions their accounting practices and that he was fired for finding problems in their accounting.

The USDA is presumably not overly concerned with the issue of whether or not a public board is properly holding public meetings according to a state's laws, but is far more concerned with financial issues and possible retribution of terminating the person that exposed financial issues.

Personally, the longer YVHA refuses to come clean about the July executive session then the more credence I give George's financial accusations. An honest board and agency would admit the mistake of the July executive session and correct the public record. A board acts like the YVHA Board when they fear the truth more than the inconsistencies and implied incompetence of their lies.

Posted 14 October 2012, 7:36 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...

My remarks above went to the point of the article about who you trust in politics and were confined to Romney and Mitsch-Bush, both currently running for office. If you want to remain within those confines, stop reading here.

If you are interested in a response to Lewi's excoriation, read on.

First, thank you Scott for coming to my defense. You are more articulate than I am but I feel compelled to add my own comments.

Lewi, we have vastly different impressions of Democratic Party Chair and YVHA Treasure Catherine Carson. I began work on April 16, 2012. At my first YVHA board meeting in May, Ms. Carson complained that I did not have the approval of the March financials on the agenda and the board could not approve them. These financial reports were in fact part of the packet for the boards review, having been prepared by Ms. Page-Allen so my sin was failing to understand YVHA's protocol. Note there were no financials presented at the April meeting. (continues)

Posted 14 October 2012, 8:25 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...

I began working earnestly to learn YVHA's "Caselle" governmental accounting software which manged 5 funds and 9 bank accounts. Although YVHA employs an accountant, I learned that she did not do any of the accounts receivable work so I was on my own. The people at Caselle software found it inconceivable that this had been dropped in my lap, since they require two weeks of on-site training, but I worked with them and learned the system. This was complicated by the YVHA having two parallel but separate software systems - Caselle and the MINC software used for reporting to the federal government. When I understood that these two sets of books did not agree, I had a big problem on my hands. It took hours of reviewing both sets of records to figure-out what was going on. Ms. Carson seemed incredulous that this was the case since Ms. Page Allen had kept perfect books in her opinion. She insisted on special Finance Committee meetings which only served to hinder my efforts since I could not initially respond to questions beyond my understanding of Caselle and MINC. On July 6th, I met Ms. Carson and Mr. Lowe at the YVHA office. I had cracked the problem and both knew how to use Caselle and had identified the exact differences between MINC and Caselle data sets. Ms. Carson however came to the meeting with her own spreadsheet which showed that I was $24,000 off in the Hillside VIllage accounts. I knew this to be incorrect but Ms. Carson and Mr. Lowe were upset. Mr. Lowe asserted that I could not be trusted and demanded to know if I was hearing what Ms. Carson was saying. I replied, as politely as possible, that I heard her but did not agree with her assertion. On Tuesday July 10th, I met with Chris Catterson, auditor for the YVHA. He confirmed that Ms. Carson's spreadsheet was in error and that a $465 imbalance existed - a "non-material amount" in his terms. To this day, Ms. Carson has not acknowledged that she was outright wrong. On the contrary, Mr. Lowe demanded that I schedule an executive session for July 12th with the well-known result that, whatever was said, without any chance to hear accusations against me nor respond to the full board, I was terminated by Mr. Lowe. Although I had been promised a 6 month review, I was hired in April and was fired in July. (continues)

Posted 14 October 2012, 8:26 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...

Ask yourself this Lewi. I worked for a dozen years each in Snowmass Village and in Steamboat Springs. I was able to "get along" with a half dozen different city managers and innumerable council members and was constantly in the public eye. If the YVHA board, comprised of talented members of the community, had tried to help me succeed, and the outgoing director of the YVHA who remained in the valley had helped me get a good start, and I made every effort to succeed - impoverished as I am after the real estate crash - why was I unable to make it through 3 months of employment at YVHA?

Lewi, if you came to an organization that had two sets of non-matching books, wherein some deposits made to the bank did not appear as credits to the tenants and wherein some credits to tenants were not supported by a deposit to the bank, wouldn't you be concerned? I found no concern in Ms. Carson for these problems nor for my difficulties in grappling with them. I only found denial, public complaining about my inability to produce the financial reports as quickly as Ms. Carson wanted, and eventually a public humiliation in my termination.

Yes, I'm outspoken and, yes, I disagree openly when I it seems appropriate. When people say "George, you're a stand-up guy," I laugh and wait for "George, for goodness sake, sit down and don't make waves." Your kind impressions of Ms. Carson are probably shared by many but my opinion of her is as low as it gets. I find her neither competent nor kind. I encourage the Democrats in Routt County to find a new chairperson who is both.

As for Ms. Mitsch-Bush, understand that Diane was the NW Transportation Planning Region Chairperson while I was the CDOT commissioner for this area. She would come to the CDOT headquarters to make presentations. Her speeches were painfully sophomoric, serving mostly to aggrandize herself, but I stood shoulder to shoulder with her for the good of Routt County and the planning region. As eager as Diane was to solicit my help, when I asked for her help to put YVHA matters right, seeing that Routt County provides the lion's share of the funding for YVHA and should certainly be concerned about that body's operating in a transparent and competent manner, Diane could not distance herself from me fast enough. She is an empty seat except for her desire to advance politically and to hear herself speak as often as possible in as many venues as possible.

(End of comment - for now)

Posted 14 October 2012, 8:27 p.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

Rick had my attention 'till I read the italicised fine print at the bottom; something for which his profession is, no doubt, at least partially responsible:

"Rick Akin is an attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs, Denver and Austin Texas..."

It is my firm and daily strengthening opinion that, apart from the politicians he rightly criticizes, attorneys have done far more to harm this nation than any other profession, possibly far more than ALL OTHER professions COMBINED.

And I pray that God would forgive me for saying this aloud, but if all of them, including the likely damn few who were blameless, were swept into the sea, the world would almost instantly become a brighter, better, and most importantly, FREER place.

As a libertarian I'm right there with it Rick. But an attorney talking about freedom is like the Grinch ringing the Salvation Army bell outsif=de Wal-Mart.
Sorry, really.

Posted 14 October 2012, 10:23 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

thank you George for stating the issues as you saw them.

While I have no expectation that this paper will investigate anything, it does let the public know about some of the issues of YVHA.

BTW, presumably the MINC accounting report to the federal government is a public record. I don't know what in YVHA's other accounting is supposed to match up, but presumably that could be requested along with Carson's spreadsheet since that was brought to a meeting.

Also, I note in the minutes that the YVHA board complained that you did not renew the $2,000 or so contract for some other entering of accounting data into some website or such.

Posted 14 October 2012, 10:48 p.m. Suggest removal

(Robert Huron) rchuron says...

When the great Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 the Federal Debt was $900 Billion. When he left office it had tripled to $3 Trillion thanks to tax cuts and Defense Spending.In 2001 when George W. Bush took office the yearly Federal Budget was $1.8 Trillion with a $250 Billion Surplus(a $5 Trillion total). When he left office it was $3.2 Trillion with a $1 Trillion Deficit (almost $11 Trillion total) thanks to 2 tax cuts, 2 unfunded wars, a 100% increase in Defense Spending and a new entitlement program called Medicare Part D. This type of growth of Government must be good because it was done by Conservatives.

Posted 15 October 2012, 8:05 a.m. Suggest removal

(Robert Huron) rchuron says...

To answer Rick's question "Who do you trust?" That is easy-NEITHER.

Posted 15 October 2012, 10:18 a.m. Suggest removal

(Howard Bashinski) bashinsk52 says...

Hi Rick,

Thanx for taking the time to voice your opinion!

One of the things that bothers me about our current socio-political debate is the distinction people often make between "us" and "the government." In fact, the government IS "us!" We are directly responsible for how we are governed, and by whom. People speak and write about "the government" as if it were some other-worldly organization that is somehow imposed in the rest of us.

Let me say it again: WE ARE the government!! An "us" versus "them" argument is just not going to work.

Now, your primary question is extremely relevant. Where do we go in today's world for the truth? Who can we trust? Almost every source has an "angle" or "agenda." This leaves us in the position of having to decide what "seems" right.

I teach college, and one of the things on which we focus is critical thinking. Critical thinking means adopting a perspective of skepticism about claims and "facts." Critical thinking is most difficult when information tends to support your own perspectives or opinions. However, this is exactly when we need critical thinking the most! In today's world, we need to take the responsibility for discovering our own facts and reaching our own conclusions.

I do have one small note of criticism. When you make a statement like, "Study after study demonstrates that where the markets are most free, the people are more prosperous," you need to support your claim with references to at least some of the studies. Give the reader the opportunity to evaluate the studies for themselves, to exercise their critical thinking. Just because you say it doesn't mean it is true...


Posted 15 October 2012, 11:43 a.m. Suggest removal

(Rick Akin) rakin says...

Mr. Bashinski, you ask a good question. Given the limitations on the length of these pieces, it is hard to fit in citations to, or detailed discussions of, studies. The 2 that come immediately to mind are (from a more historical perspective) Milton Friedman's Free to Choose (especially Chapter 2) and (from a more statistical perspective) National Center for Policy Analysis Report No. 39, which you can find here:
Given some time, I am glad to give you further citations.

Posted 15 October 2012, 5 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...


In answer to your question regarding a contract that wasn't renewed, John Eastman, former City planner, had a contract, to maintain the real estate and client database, that expired around the July 12 meeting. I had a meeting set-up with him to go over what I perceived to be problems in the database program, which I found pretty useless despite the Board's belief that it has a wealth of information. John was going to be in the area on vacation mid-July, after my July 12 firing. (He lives in Texas, I believe.) I saw that Mary Alice characterized this a non-renewal in YVHA minutes but I have bigger fish to fry than splitting hairs with her. This had nothing to do with the MINC or Caselle financial databases. Good attempt at discrediting me though.

Here's something else to consider: The resident manager at the Hillside Village Apartments sits under a large sign proclaiming "NO CASH ACCEPTED" and yet doing business in cash was the order of the day when I arrived. Couple this with variances between what was credited to people and what showed up on the bank deposits and ask yourself if you'd be concerned. The YVHA prohibits payments for in-town mileage payments to staff and yet such payments were made. One of the complaints Rick Lowe made, with John Spezia in attendance, was that all the staff was about to quit. That was not my perception but perhaps my desire to figure out whether I was looking at petty incompetence or outright fraud was threatening to some staff, past and present. Certainly made sense to fire me rather than allow the newly minted Executive Director to exercise the management authority granted him by the charter.

Who DO you trust?

Posted 15 October 2012, 5:09 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

"Study after study demonstrates that where the markets are most free, the people are more prosperous,"

Well, one of those statements that the truthiness depends upon the presumed context. Most of the very poor countries have minimal government and thus have the least regulated markets. No one is freer than an aboriginal selling to others and that is hardly the richest person.

Also, countries with the greatest wealth imbalances often have some of the most prosperous individuals even as per capita wealth is quite low.

A survey of today's wealthiest countries per capita would not find that many countries with highly regulated markets are doing well.

Posted 15 October 2012, 7:37 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

When amounted credited to bank account does not match amount credited to people then that is a huge problem that needs to be investigated and proper measures installed to correct it.

There are ways to deal with cash such as signed receipts that do provide a record trail that can be audited. So I am not particularly concerned that there are cash transactions, but any differences between amounts credited to accounts vs amount deposited should be investigated as thefts.

Posted 15 October 2012, 8:15 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...

Harder to investigate once you're fired. The auditor noted that messy books are a great way to cover tracks.

One of my crises came when I was struggling with Caselle/MINC and began to identify discrepancies. Mr. Lowe and Ms. Carson asked Ms. Page-Allen to come in to "help me" but she only agreed to do so if she could have time alone, without my involvement, to make the corrections. Mr. Lowe agreed to this, directing the accountant to provide Ms. Page-Allen with the computer passwords I had established for the accountant, but, having devoted long hours to understanding the books, I objected and, ultimately, working directly with Caselle software support, was able to persuade Mr. Lowe and Ms. Carson not to do this. (This was about the time my office was broken into and tossed, although the rest of the YVHA offices, in the unlocked adjoining room were untouched. PD has all this info. Only my personal belongings were taken as far as we could tell.)

Caselle identified errors of several thousand dollars in the books going back way before my time and these were to corrected through adjusting entries by Ms. Carson and the AP Account Sandy Jacobs. Although I did not want to make any adjustments until I completed my meetings with the auditor on Tuesday July 10, Ms. Carson made an appointment with accountant Ms. Jacobs, without notice to me, to make the adjusting entries and, although she was invited to join me and the auditor on Tuesday, Ms. Carson scheduled her own meeting with the auditor the day before, again without notifying me. This added one more set of numbers that I had to track while reconciling accounts.

This is all moot now, since I never got to complete my work and Ms. Page-Allen was called in immediately following my termination as interim director and I'm sure she has corrected all my work by now.

You might enjoy knowing that Ms. Page-Allen also cautioned me against allowing my employees to keep two sets of payroll records. This surprised me but in fact I found that, indeed, one of my employees had a private set of payroll records at odds with the official record. I was assured that Ms. Page-Allen had told them to stop this practice and they had, at least to extent of not making new entries in their private books. The AP accountant offered that there seemed to be some misunderstanding about whether not "keeping books" also included not keeping track in your head. This was also an issue in play at the time of my termination.

Trust me.

Posted 15 October 2012, 10:53 p.m. Suggest removal

(John Weibel) jweibel says...

Howard, Unfortunately the federal government really has no representation of we the people any longer. What should really happen is that any task that can be handled at the local level should be pushed down to that level so that yes it can be a government of the people.

From what I see, the federal government and somewhat the state government looks more like a loose coalition of buracracies, (sorry spelling and not looking it up I am more a math person) with a dictatorial attitude - that we the people have no representation in.

To the Debt and deficits of Regan and Bush, I do not agree with the wars and much of what the federal government does, though government just seems to grow.

Posted 16 October 2012, 12:36 a.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

I actually agree with Howard here. The government is a reflection of the electorate. This supports my previous assertion that the electorate is dysfunctional.

I also agree with John W. that the problems of a federal govemnment could be mitigated, at least partially, by bringing as much of the operation as possible down to state, county, local levels.

However, I take issue with his assertion that our deficits are the products of "Reagan and Bush" alone.
As with the rest of the situation, these deficits, which added together give us tens of trillions in debt, are the making of an electorate addicted to spending more than they took in over a course of many decades, NOT JUST DURING TWO ADMINISTRATIONS.

Unfortunately the same electorate, drunk with money and power, which has seen fit to screw things up so badly, must be the ones to decide to send this power back to the states/ counties.
Not very likely. This is why I think those individual states who are so inclined to act independantly and responsibly, will ultimately have to nullify federal mandates and use their power from the bottom up to get things straightened out.
Like the battered wife who keeps going back, this might prove to be a slow and tumultuous process. But if there is any hope ploitically or fiscally for this nation ( and I don't think there is) it is in this idea of states refusing federal mandates, regulations and dictates, and doing as their citizens see fit while staying in the union.

Posted 16 October 2012, 7:19 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

I didn't mean to imply that you should continue to investigate these financial issues.

But that YVHA, presumably their new guy, should make sure that any cash transactions have the same amounts credited as is deposited in the bank. I think that an open records request could be made for something like "How many cash transactions and for what amounts occurred for which amount credited for rent did not match amount deposited in YVHA accounts?" Probably your knowledge could better frame that sort of request.

I don't understand what you say are two sets of payroll records. What information is being kept in the private books that is not in the official books?

Posted 16 October 2012, 10:55 a.m. Suggest removal

(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...

Scott, the USDA considers the tenant records as non-classified but sensitive and to only be distributed as needed. So no, I don't think you'll get anywhere with an open records request. By now, all I think you'd get it is "everything's in perfect agreement."

The reason for two sets of rent revenue numbers is that the resident manager at HSV entered amounts into the MINC books, for reporting to the federal gov and managing tenant accounts, while the Caselle system duplicated this information and fed into the financial statements. There was no electronic link so everything was posted manually to two different accounts. It's pretty easy to defend saying "Oh, yes, that $50 should've been credited to so and so, it was just missed we'll credit them now." Or, if there's no bank deposit, "oh, that must be a mistake, I'll back out that credit." When the Caselle and MINC systems showed slightly different payments, I was concerned and took the trouble to look into them while the auditor lumped these into non-material errors to give the YVHA their clean audits. The auditor also seemed primarily concerned with the Caselle books. Note that the bank accounts and Caselle were "reconciled" monthly so that bottom lines usually matched or adjusting entries were made.

Payroll fraud was a big concern when I worked at the city. I am very sensitive to, for example, having an employee work 30 hours one week, 50 the next while paying them a straight 40 hours per week, without overtime or comp time. An employee that was told "You may not incur overtime" and yet needed flexibility in their schedule, could, under these hypothetical examples, feel they were owed 15 hours of pay for that last ten hours in the 50 hour week. They would then keep track and feel they only had to work 25 the next week and still report 40. They might even take some of this "comp time" that isn't on the real books, in a completely different payperiod.

I've often heard of such practices on the private side but I would not want to report to the federal government, when billing them under grant agreements, for payrolls that were not correct in every way. I hope this helps you understand the principles involved if not the specifics.

As far as open records requests, try this little test: file one to determine how many Down Payment Assistance Loans have been issued, to whom, and what are the outstanding balances. These are public funds so it seems you should get an answer. Tell me if the answer makes any sense to you. I got a print out of the database, recently referred to in this thread, which was incomprehensible. If you want to meet me at Bob Weiss's office, this material should still be available from my request, or you can make your own.

Posted 16 October 2012, 12:36 p.m. Suggest removal

(John Weibel) jweibel says...

Mark, yes the debt has been growing for a long time and was not just created under Bush or Regan ( I was commenting on others comments about Bush and Regan adding to the debt because of the military) - in addition Clinton benefitted from the rise of 401ks and IRA's inflating peoples "net worth" coupled with excess spending for y2k. The government still grew under Clinton, he just had the good fortune of an expanding economy to mask the additional government spending.

Posted 16 October 2012, 7:47 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

So George, when there is an entry in MINC that doesn't have a matching deposit then the entry is cancelled? But the tenant is still credited for having paid rent? About how much of a difference is there between credited rent vs deposits made?

As for open records, just because it is public money does not mean individuals receiving it is not privileged financial information within the agency. But I think how many down payment assistance loans have been issued and the outstanding balances would seem to be a public record. Anything useful in that request?

BTW, if YVHA files deeds of trust or such with the county recorder's office then that same information could be found that way via county records.

Posted 16 October 2012, 8:39 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Krawzoff) George_Krawzoff says...

As the auditor Chris Catterson pointed out, the best way to cover for large problems is bunch of small ones that confuse matters and make it hard to tell whether you're looking at petty incompetence or deeper problems.

Go ahead. As you point out, it shouldn't be difficult to figure out what DPA loans were issued and what the current outstanding balances are. The public should be able to know who got the money, when and at what interest rate. If you believe you get a good response, then no, there's probably nothing useful in this request.

This is getting into a level of detail that is not appropriate for the comments section. Anybody that wants to pursue this discussion with me is invited to contact me. Obviously the newspaper was not interested in any investigative reporting on this issue so a more private conversation is the only avenue I have at this point.

Posted 17 October 2012, 5:26 a.m. Suggest removal

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