Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No, Lyndon, You Can't Do Both

The Virginian-Pravda brings us the story of the two finalists for the now-independent City Auditor's position http://hamptonroads.com/2008/04/two-finalists-vie-beachs-auditor-position

One of the finalists is Lyndon Remias, the School Board member from Princess Anne District. However, he should have to resign his School Board seat to serve as Auditor. In comes down to one fact: the majority of the City Operating Budget is the school system's. Therefore, he'd have a clear conflict of interest auditing most City spending.

I first met Lyndon about 4 1/2 years ago, and feel fairly confident that he could do an outstanding job. On the other hand, given that Chris Ford's career advancement has been due to City Manager Jim Spore, you'd have a very tough time convincing the general public that the Auditor was truely independent and working for the public good.

So Council should hire Lyndon. After he resigns his School Board seat, the School Board should appoint (if interested) former Princess Anne District rep Al Ablowich to serve out Remias' term.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you. He can do both very well. There is no law or city code that prevents him from serving in both positions. If he is doing a good job on the School Board, then he shouldn't resign just so a puppet can be put in his place.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely not, he cannot do both. The average citizen could see the perceived conflict a mile away.

If he is the best candidate, he resigns and devotes his full time to the taxpayers.

Oh, and Al Ablowich is a nice guy, but is not the right choice. He was appointed once and lost an election. They need to look for someone who can win in November and again in two years.

Ken said...

Lyndon is a fine choice for city auditor. The city will be in good hands with Lyndon as a watch dog.

As for resigning his seat on the school board I disagree. The only indepenence issue is a perceived one there is no true issue. The school board has there own audit department and are seperate from the city. The position Lyndon will be taking has no responsibility over the school funds, budget nor how they spen them. Further, Lyndon has no input into how much money the city gives to the school system. Lastly, there is no law that prevents him from completing his term.

However, I know Lyndon and he will do the right thing. Therefore, I believe he will step down from the school board thus preventing any misconception from the general public. Lyndon will always do what is right for the city of Virginia Beach.

Let me be the first to say Welcome Aboard Lyndon.

I have no opinion on who takes his vacated seat on the school board as I do not know Al Ablowich.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I disagree.

The city sends around a half a billion to the school system every year to fund their operation. This money comes from our taxes and we need to make sure that the person who is the watchdog is indepdendent.

In the private sector, this would be considered an "independence issue" for a CPA. In the public sector, that translates to be a "conflict of interest."

ken said...

Response to anonymous....

Obviously you do not understand conflict of interest and independence as defined by GAGAS, and the IIA.

I understand that the city gives a half billion to the schools but does our watch dog i.e. city auditor have any say whatsoever in the city budget No, does he audit the schools No does he have any say how the money is spent by the schools No, (remember the schools have there own internal audit department) and finally is there a law that disallows him from holding these two positions together again No.

Now is there a perceived independence issue and cnflict of interest Yes and for that reason he will step down.

So before you go spouting off about independence and conflict of interest either in the public or private sector please understand what constitutes a violation.

Anonymous said...

Response to Ken,

First, please take a little pride in your writing and edit it for spelling and grammar.

Second, "GAGAS" and "IIA" may have conflict of interest rules, but in Virginia, it is actually the LAW, not guidelines set by a peer group. Perhaps there is no legal conflict (only Lyndon can request an opinion, not a regular citizen), but there is definitely an appearance of a conflict.

Finally, the auditor will in fact be watching money being paid to the schools. Influencing amounts paid, no. Watching, yes.

Anonymous said...

If he is selected, I am sure he will step down.

Ken said...

Response to anonymous again,

lets make this about the issues not a personal attack of my grammar or spelling.

A heated debate about issues is fine lets keep it that way. Attack my facts so I can defend my position.

So you say it is a Virginia Law. Please specify the specific law so I can verify. Remember trust but verify :-)

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Sorry, that was not meant as a personal attack. The problem is that people tend to overlook basic grammar and punctuation in electronic communications, and it is very tedious to try to figure out what they are trying to say.

For the record, I don't consider this a heated exchange.

As I said, there well may be no "real" conflict, but there certainly will be a perceived conflict. Hypothetically, the school board decides it wants to embark on a controversial plan of some sort (Beach Middle School a few years ago comes to mind). They clash with council. Lyndon works for the council and is on the school board. See my reasoning?

Oh, and the state law is 2.2-3100, Code of Virginia.

(To the Archangel, sorry for the Reid-length post)

Anonymous said...

To clarify the Beach Middle School reference, the School Board wanted to condemn homes to build a new middle school, including the home of an elderly war veteran.

The council did not want the homes condemned, so they publicly fought the school board, and refused to close streets that the school board needed.

Ultimately, the school board chose a different plan.

And for the record, I live VERY near the school, so I can confirm this is all true through my attendance at multiple public meetings.

Avenging Archangel said...

No need to apologize for the length. I'd like to see more comments on here, not fewer.

Yes, this post has drawn quite a few. :)

Anonymous said...

The City Council Auditor will NOT audit School Board funds. He is only for city accounts. Therefore I see no conflict of interest...

Anonymous said...

What type of person is Remias? Can we count on him to do a good job as Auditor?

Avenging Archangel said...

Anon 11:31,

As you can see from the comments, there's a consensus that Remias should get the job.

The debate is whether or not he can be Auditor and a School Board member at the same time.

Anonymous said...

This is a non-issue. There are no rules that prevent the City Auditor from holding a position on the School Board. If the blogger feels that this is an issue of importance, instead of sitting on the internet flopping his lips about it under the name “Avenging Angel” he should try to be more like Remias and make a difference. He could try to join the Board that sets the qualification standards for City Auditors.

This is just someone who has a little too much time on their hands and has nothing better to do than to sit on a computer creating blogs nit-picking at people who are actively trying to make a difference. The Avenging Angel is nothing more then a fault finder. You can see evidence of this right here in this blog as he berates Ken about his spelling and grammar. Its easy to understand what Ken is trying to say, so why is it necessary to correct him causing him unnecessary embarrassment?

In a time where scandal and corruption are the norm, we should make more of an effort to commend and support those who have gone over and beyond. Remias has committed his life to bettering our community in numerous ways. Instead of sitting around blogging about the issues that affect our community, he’s out there making a difference.

Avenging Archangel said...

First of all, I wasn't the one who made an issue about spelling and grammar.

Second, I wouldn't be in all the meetings posted on this blog unless I was trying to make a difference.

Good try, but we have some nice parting gifts for you.

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