Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Stirrings of Change?

As expected, the county's contract with EDGE was renewed for another year and another $412K. What was different about this approval was the vote: 24-3. Three legislators, all from Utica, voted against it -- a real break from what we've seen in the past with this legislature where propositions are rubber-stamped with unanimous votes.

And questions were asked -- for a change!
Tanoury thought his queries about the accountability of the not-for-profit EDGE and whether there was any analysis of what EDGE gets back on its investments were given the short shrift at the committee session, so he raised them again Wednesday at the full board meeting.

Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steven J. DiMeo responded to Tanoury’s queries. DiMeo reviewed the legal formation of EDGE and why two affiliates were set up to support specific projects. He also said the EDGE budget undergoes an outside audit.

It was noted that EDGE officials meet with legislators on a quarterly basis.

Several legislators then spoke up in support of EDGE.

"I think they’re doing a fine job relative to accountability," said Les Porter, R-6, Remsen.

Mr. Tanoury's questions were given the short shrift again . . . or maybe it was a "long shrift" . . .

It's clear that Mr. Tanoury isn't asking about accounting practices . . . It's accountability to the public: What return is the public getting for its substantial investments, both in EDGE and in the projects that EDGE administers?

It sounds like he was given the typical Oneida County response: (1) A lot of irrelevant detail that distracts from the purpose of the questions that were asked, and (2) EDGE supporters cheerleading but providing no substantive information themselves. All talk to give the impression that EDGE is doing a fine job - - BUT NO SUBSTANCE TO ACTUALLY PROVE IT.

Well . . . If EDGE meets quarterly with the legislature and it is doing such a fine job of accountability, why is it that we still don't know what we've invested and what we've gotten in return? Why can't the supporting legislators tell us what we are getting for our bucks?

The question remains unanswered.

Again, keep asking those questions, Larry. It may take awhile, but eventually the vacuous nature of county decision making will be exposed.

More on this from Gear over at the CNY Snakepit.


Anonymous said...

HERE-HERE! For County Legislator Larry Tanoury Jr., D-25, of Utica!

Thank goodness! We are finally seeing our County Legislators (Larry Tanoury Jr., D-25, Utica, Joseph M. Furgol, D-27, Utica, and Shannon L. Scott, D-22, Utica) have the GUTS to perform the job the taxpayers are paying them to do. Mr. Tanoury, in particular, is asking the pertinent questions, albeit he is getting the all-too-familiar Oneida County appeasement smoke-in-mirrors answers, as to how the Mohawk Valley EDGE is spending multimillions of our money.

On Independent Audits – As we have seen from several school district independent audits, these audits are only as detailed as the RFP (Request for Proposal) instructions allow them to be. Remember “the devil is in the details.” All too often, these RFP’s tend to handcuff the auditors by only requesting for certain details on how their funding was handled. A FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request for the actual independent audit as well as a FOIL for the RFP for the audit will shed some light on the details of the audit’s contract. All too often these independent audits request for standard and general accounting practices. Mostly they will not request for recommendations in terms of how to more efficiently appropriate assets and expenditure disbursements to optimize return on investments. Another area these audits fail is where they do not request for to expose if there were any impropriety in terms of how, and to which firms, the architectural and construction contracts were awarded. This is the information I believe Mr. Tanoury was attempting to ascertain, but only received the good old Oneida County smoke-in-mirrors answers.

Keep up the good work Mr. Tanoury, there are some of us out here that are in support of your efforts to get to the bottom of this very smoky, that points to a rather shady operation, consisting of non-elected public economic development arm of our government.

Anonymous said...

Better yet, why isn't Tanoury asking these questions of EDGE himself? He has quarterly meetings to find this information out. Why doesn't he ask? Is it because the press isn't at those meetings?