Breaking news: Announcement imminent for creation of Municipal Auditor General.

So,  I have on good authority, that on /or around 9: 30 am tomorrow, Christie Clark will be making an announcement at SFU, heralding the creation of a Municipal Auditor General.

I would hope, for all our sakes, the position actually comes with some feasible authority as well as legislation with teeth –  or the move will be simply window dressing. For all the wonderful, exposing work provincial Auditor General John Doyle has done, he still has no real ability to make the government do anything different from what they have done all along. His stunning truths and financial revelations are most often ignored by those projects and organizations  that have been the subject of his examination, and little has changed despite his ongoing and stellar work.

I might  also note that the vast majority of his work in which he has found discrepancies, have also been ” independently audited”.  ( One wonders how  truly independent the audits are, when paid for by the entity being independently audited…)

Stay tuned in the morning for the press to report.

( **update: In late October I requested a copy of the unconsolidated financial reports to Surrey City Development Corporation, because the City of Surrey had consolidated the financials for that entity with their own year end. It took two days for them to give the reports to me, and then they were found to be very vague, not detailing the directors compensation by director, to whom consulting fees were charged, what or to whom the over $600,00 0 in salaries were being paid to, nor the specifics of the land transfers or acquisitions or any transactions of substance.

At that point, I asked Heather Marshall of SCDC for a further breakdown. She denied access and I was told to file a FOI with the city of Surrey. I did so, requesting a full accounting of the expenditures, acquisitions and land transfers between the city of Surrey and Surrey City Development Corporation. That response has been acknowledged and the information should be ready on or before December 20th, this year – unless of course, they use the same tricks as the BC government in delaying FOI requests forever! )

15 thoughts on “Breaking news: Announcement imminent for creation of Municipal Auditor General.

  1. Complete freedom of information, quickly responsive to legitimate inquiries, would be less costly and more effective than a municipal auditor who duplicates independent audits already conducted at every municipality.

    Please note that the provincial government ignores the provincial auditor general (BC Hydro) and places specious roadblock in the auditor’s way (Basi/Virk). It is rank hypocrisy for Liberals to pretend that municipalities need more examination when those same politicians are doing everything possible to prevent oversight from working effectively in their own provincial government.

    Forcing the province’s Auditor General to return to the Supreme Court in the Basi/Virk case indicates how insincere Christy Clark is on the Municipal A.G. The province was given clear direction by the courts last April and here it is in November and the BC government has not complied.

    They are claiming that others are guilty of making a mess just to divert attention from their own stinking activities.

    http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2011/11/delay-strategy-suggests-clark-plans.html

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    1. Laila

      I agree, this will be window dressing at best under Christy’s guidance. But the provincial government also conducts “independent audits” prior to examinations by John Doyle and he can often totally contradict what that auditor has found and said. Such so-called independent audits are mainly for shareholder assurance to see that such an action has occurred,counting the on the average onlooker not being able to decipher financial irregularities in the first place.

      Ah, for a speedy response to an legitimate FOI. I had a hard time with being told that finding out how much of the wages are alloted to each employee of a city owned corporation was FOI material, as with the directors fees and consultation fees.Simple land transfers to the corporation should also be easily accessed, but alas, I must wait to find out where all this borrowed money is being spent.

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  2. Debbie

    I find this really intriguing Laila and it seems the only way to get information is to do FOI requests, which are stymied and stalled at every turn. The more they have to hide the harder it is to get the info.
    We here in Delta have found our government has thrown yet another way to prevent access to information. By charging outrageous fees for FOI requests.

    I don’t know if you were charged for the FOI request you made but today I was informed that a Delta resident who had made 2 separate requests about 2 developments was told she would need to pay $1200.00 for one and $400.00 for another one. There is no way this is affordable and so Delta will be able to keep this information about two very controversial developments on agricultural land away from public scrutiny.

    This is becoming The usual way of doing things in Delta. In the last 6 months two residents came forward publically and revealed one had paid over $200.00 for an FOI that contained less than 180 pages of mostly information that was already public. The FOI is incomplete, was delayed twice and is now he subject of a complaint and a review by the Privacy Commissioner.

    In the second case, the resident was charged over $800.00 for an FOI request. This resident, as with the previous case, shocked Delta by paying it. In this case the FOI was delayed and is the subject of a complaint for not providing information.

    I certainly hope that an Auditor General will expose what is really going on at City Halls all over this province. But I won’t hold my breath.

    I hope you dont mind Laila if I put out a request and ask that if anyone else has had experience with these kind of outrageous costs associated with FOI requests, I’d really appreciate hearing from you. It seems to be a very effective way to prevent ordinary people from getting information from their governments
    It must be exposed and ended.

    Please contact me at debbiemcbride@gmail.com with information

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  3. e.Olson

    This is really interesting news. I was forced to file an FOI with the Corporation of Delta regarding notes taken at a meeting I attended. I requested the notes to compare with mine to ensure that both had the same information. Because I had never filed an FOI before I thought I had to go to the province for the information. I kept persisting with emails and letters and in the one just before my FOI I asked if I had to get an FOI. The really interesting part is that my FOI to the Corporation of Delta and the requested notes crossed paths in the mail!

    I didn’t and I wasn’t asked to pay. However, the bottomline is that it took months to get notes that should have been available within two weeks of the meeting.

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  4. Rick

    Why ask, demand the information. These people are public servants and do what we order them to do
    Look at Section 337 of the Criminal Code demand the thing you want and if they will not give it to you file a criminal complaint. The remedy is available we just need to use it.

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  5. Curt

    Jim Cox is the President and CEO of Surrey City Development Corporation, a real estate development company that is wholly owned by the City of Surrey with a mandate to lead and partner in real estate development projects to achieve City objectives. He has had a 35 year career in real estate development in Vancouver including stints with Marathon Realty, BCR Properties, Vancity Enterprises, the Port of Vancouver and Moodie Consultants.

    Hmm, there’s the company that el Gordo was so involved with “Marathon Realty”. Just follow the money. I’m sure the Watts famly is doing just fine.

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  6. Marathon Realty = eliminating rail service and then converting the LAND GRANT real estate that was given to the CPR as an inducement to provide the service, to condos and shopping malls
    .
    I always thought it would be appropriate to, if the RR withdrew the service, often to an entire region and many communities, then the government should insist the land be returned to public ownership…….If I homesteaded and then didn’t do my improvements and farm, the land reverted back to the crown…….but then I guess I wasn’t too big to fail!

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  7. Laila, Crusty Clark has again proven she is the “Queen of Obfuscators”. Rather than provide a minimum semblance of ethics for her very corrupt government, she digresses by pointing the finger at municipal government.

    As for municipal government, they are required under the “Community Charter” to provide the following information:

    Sec 97 (1) The following municipal records, or copies of them, must be available for public inspection:

    (a) all bylaws and all proposed bylaws that have been given first reading;
    (b) all minutes of council meetings, other than a meeting or part of a meeting that is closed to the public;
    (c) all minutes of meetings of bodies referred to in section 93 [application of rules to other bodies], other than a meeting or part of a meeting that is closed to the public;
    (d) the annual municipal report under section 98;
    (e) all disclosure statements under section 106 [disclosure of gifts];
    (f) the report under section 168 [council remuneration, expenses and contracts];
    (g) the written disclosures referred to in section 6 (1) [disclosures by council members and nominees] of the Financial Disclosure Act;
    (h) any applicable agreements under section 9 (5) [concurrent authority agreements].
    (2) The obligation under subsection (1) is met if the record is made available at the municipal hall within 7 days after it has been requested.
    Division 5 — Reporting

    Annual municipal report
    Sec 98 (1) Before June 30 in each year, a council must
    (a) prepare an annual report,
    (b) make the report available for public inspection under section 97, and
    (c) have the report available for public inspection at the meeting required under section 99.
    (2) The annual report must include the following:
    (a) the audited annual financial statements referred to in section 167 (4) for the previous year;
    (b) for each tax exemption provided by a council under Division 7 [Permissive Tax Exemptions] of Part 7 [Municipal Revenue], the amount of property taxes that would have been imposed on the property in the previous year if it were not exempt for that year;
    (c) a report respecting municipal services and operations for the previous year;
    (d) a progress report respecting the previous year in relation to the objectives and measures established for that year under paragraph (f);
    (e) any declarations of disqualification made under section 111 [application to court for declaration of disqualification] in the previous year, including identification of the council member or former council member involved and the nature of the disqualification;
    (f) a statement of municipal objectives, and the measures that will be used to determine progress respecting those objectives, for the current and next year;
    (g) any other information the council considers advisable.

    Annual meeting on report
    Sec 99 (1) The council must annually consider, at a council meeting or other public meeting,

    (a) the annual report prepared under section 98, and
    (b) submissions and questions from the public.
    (2) The annual meeting must occur at least 14 days after the annual report is made available for public inspection under section 97.
    (3) The council must give notice of the date, time and place of the annual meeting in accordance with section 94 [public notice].

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  8. Morry, Crusty Clark’s announcement has only been deferred. Don’t worry, she is just waiting for the best coordinated photo-op.

    During the past couple of days Madam Premier was distracted by fallout related to the untendered contract of $181,000 Athana Mentzelopoulos’s husband.Today she was too busy practicing her crocodile tears with Shurly Bond.

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    1. Laila

      Morry, I said an announcement was imminent, and it was. the press op was delayed since Christy didnt want to have to answer any questions about the “all in the family” untendered Fraser Health contract.

      Read on. In fact, couldnt get any better since the office will be located in Surrey,which makes it very convenient for those who will be looking at Surrey’s finances… however, the disclaimer to Christys announcement should read ” Lip service advice only” since the position comes with absolutely no teeth, no enforcement ability and really no authority whatsoever.

      Christy Two Thumbs down for failing to provide effective legislation to safeguard municipal taxpayers. ( let me clarify- thats my headline, not the one in the Surrey Leader)

      http://www.surreyleader.com/news/134461018.html

      A planned Office of the Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG) will be based in Surrey.

      The provincial government introduced legislation to establish the promised auditor of municipal spending but debate and passage will be delayed until a spring session of the Legislature.

      Premier Christy Clark said the AGLG’s main role will be to help cities find efficiencies in spending and improve program effectiveness by providing neutral, non-binding advice – not by imposing solutions.

      It will be up to city councils to decide what action to take on any recommendations, she said, adding their decisions on taxation, land use and other services will remain unrestricted.

      Clark said the office will strengthen local government accountability and ensure the best possible return on investment for taxpayer dollars.

      AGLG performance audits assessing whether how effective city operations are in providing value for money will be made public.

      “The same reports would give local governments important information about

      how to streamline processes and identify the most efficient use of public

      funds, maximizing the use of taxpayer dollars,” said Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong.

      Audits will target specific services, not a city’s entire operations.

      Also covered are regional districts, including Metro Vancouver’s utility arms, and any corporations or other entities controlled by cities or regional districts.

      Delegates at September’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention strongly criticized the planned municipal auditor, suspecting its aim is to pressure elected councils to change their policies and priorities. Some predicted the office itself will be a waste of money.

      Metro Vancouver mayors urged the province in October to put TransLink under the scrutiny of the new auditor.

      The Canadian Federation of Independent Business applauded the announcement.

      “We believe having an independent, unbiased body to scrutinize municipal spending and conduct performance audits will be an extremely effective step in curbing municipal overspending,” said CFIB spokeswoman Shachi Kurl

      From the Province, 45 minutes ago: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Surrey+host+municipal+auditor+general/5761789/story.html?cid=megadrop_story

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