Dear Mayor, Council, Greg and Wayne:
This letter is in response to Ms. Sonya Laney’s comments to Council about Ted Noftall and her tenure and Ted’s on the Audit and Budget Board.
I heard both Ted and Sonya use the phase “what I am hearing”. The phrase “what I am hearing” is a statement to me that means, “this is my opinion” or maybe more correctly, “this is my perception”.
If it is a given that we assume both of these people are well intentioned, well qualified and want what’s best for our city, and are assets to the city, then I can only hope that what sounds like an impasse may turn on style not substance. I was alarmed at Ms. Laney’s suggestion that maybe A&B needs to be disbanded. Not with our city’s history. There must be a way forward out of this. Having said all that, I want to say this: I like Ted Noftall. He is direct and he wants accountability. I do too. I like his style. I would trust Ted with my teenage daughter if I had one, my wallet or my house key. I do not say those things lightly about anyone. He is willing to ask hard questions and ask them repeatedly. I do not even know the right questions to ask many times so let me be very clear: I am grateful for Ted Noftall. I want his involvement in our city’s government to continue.
So toward that end and since I have already expressed my bias: this is “what I am hearing” and what I think I am seeing occur as a dynamic at Audit and Budget meetings. I have attended two meetings to date. Ted has posed questions, and in his perception, they have either not been answered or not answered to his satisfaction. Nor to mine. As his most recent concern, Ted appears to me to be posing very specific questions to both Greg Kisela and Wayne Saunders about the design, implementation and monitoring of internal controls. These questions have been posed both on the read file recently to Greg and Wayne and at the two meetings we attended.
Greg appears to be saying this data was provided back in September on a spread sheet. They may have been.
However, I have yet to hear these questions answered even in general terms at the two meetings I have attended. Now..maybe I missed these answers. Very possible. If I have, apologies all around. I have only begun in the past several days to even dimly understand what these questions even really mean. My degree is in social work. I am not a finance major. I did work as a low level bookkeeper for about 18 months with a local company back in the 80s. I am now trying to educate myself on what internal controls actually are. After some lengthy tedious discussion with my husband, Mike Gardner, certified smart guy, I realized that what I did as a bookkeeper for that company was a reflection of that company’s internal controls. That they had been designed for that specific industry and had been designed by an internal developer. My husband who ran our construction company for 26 years explained to me in layman’s terms that internal controls are essentially how an entity guarantees that its money and assets are properly managed. Internal controls as I understand them can be broken down into groupings such as approval of payments, authorizations, verifications, segregation of duties, safeguarding of physical assets, processing controls, computer controls, reconciliations, review of operating performance, monitoring controls, use of audit packages, etc. with many subsets under these categories.
My request: is it possible to enable me to understand as a taxpayer and as someone who wants to become informed, for Wayne to send me with a cc to Greg a text explanation of our internal controls, who implemented them, who updates them and who monitors them? Not by employee name but by function. Layman’s terms. So I can be confident that we are “directionally correct”. I think such an email would be of great use to our taxpayers, those who follow city government, help us clarify terms and all get on the same page.
Final thoughts about this entire issue. Divided government, adversarial government, differing mind sets, differing styles of delivery, lively debate, factions: these are good things. What our Founding Fathers encouraged. Insisted on in fact. I do not want to see council and members of these various boards “make nice” at the expense of transparency and honest government. Too cozy is not good. Port Orange has been down that road.
Dianne Templeton Gardner
618 Ruth Street
Port Orange, Florida 32127
PS This to my mind is not city business; Robin Fenwick will be CCd howeve