Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, August 11, 2006

JUST IN: The Auditor of State's reply to Mr. Moore

At Tuesday night's council meeting, Councilman Moore replied to this question we had posed earlier in a letter read by Susan Knox:

Is it expected that a budget analyst will offer advice superior to the free advice and technical services the Auditor of State provides under the terms of “fiscal watch?”

Mr. Moore's response: "That's an unqualified "yes." There's no question about it. ...A budget analyst will not make suggestions that are patently illegal or essentially not practical to actually carry out. There's no practical way the city is going to lay off 22 firefighters. That's just not a realistic, viable option, and that's what the state recommended as their biggest financial savings."

Since no one from the Auditor of State was present to defend against Mr. Moore’s assertions, we thought it only fair to provide the opportunity for a published response. Here is the official AOS reply:

"The city of Norwood is in a fiscal crisis and will be making tough decisions in order to recover. The performance audit was done to provide the city with savings and revenue enhancement opportunities. These are options. Our recommendations speak for themselves, and our audits go through a legal review process. We stand by our recommendations. We understand our recommendations are based on contract negotiations and that time may have to go by before all or any one of them can be implemented."

There it is in black and white, "legal review process." You see, the Auditor of State has a legal department, and nothing much gets published without their lawyers’ careful scrutiny. Now, we all know attorneys can make mistakes and give advice that’s illegal, a painful lesson our city just learned by taking Mr. Burke’s advice in the now lost Supreme Court decision on eminent domain. But that aside, it strikes us as odd that Mr. Moore, an attorney, has unqualified confidence that a new budget analyst can’t make some legal missteps. Or will s/he be an attorney, too? Will s/he be willing to work for a mere $25 per hour?

And one more thing we already know we’re going to tire of correcting every time we catch it: let’s all look on page 1-8 of the performance audit where it says, "Reduce Fire Department personnel levels by UP TO 22 full-time equivalent employees, thereby achieving staffing levels and costs comparable to peers and national benchmarks." The performance audit doesn't recommend Norwood lay off 22 firefighters. Period.