Willful ignorance by Aspen City Council, city manager
Paul Menter is a columnist for the Aspen Daily News. His Oct. 4 column explains the cavalier and self-righteous attitude that both the Aspen mayor and the city manager have taken to past frauds that have raided the city’s coffers. I must take issue with one thing Paul said, i.e., that the city is not responsible for Red Brick Gate in the legal sense.
The City Council, including the mayor and city manager, have a fiduciary duty (that is a legal duty) to see that the city’s funds are used for purposes approved by council. When council approves a budget that includes expenditures to operate parking meters or the Red Brick, the city (meaning council) has a responsibility to take reasonable measures to insure the money is being spent for the intended purposes. That could include independent audits focused particularly on fraud and on financial control weaknesses. This has not been done.
The city might have fixed the specific problem of the parking meters: Parking time could be stolen with an expired debit card. But it didn’t fix another problem; even with the new system there’s no way independently to verify that the Canadian company operating the system pays the city all the city is owed. So the city might be paying a vendor to operate a parking system that skims city funds to the operating company. And the city apparently has no way to tell whether the nonprofits it supports are spending the money on new Lamborghinis for its executive directors. Or paying the executive directors’ electricity bills.
As I’ve said many times, the people on our city councils generally are clueless about finances and financial controls. Worse, they aren’t even curious.
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