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Council Asks Why It Wasn't Told of Audit Before Spiral Garage Sale
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 5 years ago on
March 13, 2019

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A Fresno City Council subcommittee wondered aloud why it didn’t have access to an internal audit of the city’s parking program before selling the spiral garage last December.

The council’s Finance and Audit Committee heard two hours of presentations from city staff Monday on the parking audit released last month.

The audit, ordered by City Manager Wilma Quan, showed the city left nearly $250,000 on the table by not enforcing downtown parking contracts with Fresno County and Club One Casino. City management promised more attention to detail to prevent future lapses.

After the audit’s release, Fresno County and Club One said that they would square their accounts.

The meeting, perhaps, provided a dress rehearsal. The full council will hear the same presentation Thursday (March 14).

Committee Questions Timing

Committee chairman Steve Brandau conducted the meeting, which was mostly questions and answers with city staff and management. For the most part, it was congenial.

It wasn’t until the end that Brandau challenged the timing of the audit’s release.

“We made a pretty serious decision on one of our parking structures in December. And, could that have been a time when the administration told us that maybe we should wait, or maybe we didn’t have all the information? Maybe we should wait for the audit’s finality? Or, could that have been foreseen as a good time to tell us?” Brandau asked.

The council voted unanimously in December to sell the spiral garage, located on Mono Street between Fulton and Van Ness, for $1.7 million to Club One Casino.

Quan responded by noting the spiral garage “was actually sinking our parking program. I think we made a really good decision selling that one garage.”

Councilman Nelson Esparza offered a rebuttal.

“What the chairman is getting at, is the council’s decision-making process could have been compromised, or was compromised, or impacted by the lack of information,” Esparza said.

Quan disagreed.

“You were equipped with as much information as we had at the time, and we would still recommend, at this point, even with all this information, to sell that structure,” she said.

Brandau doubted the outcome of the sale would have been any different but wished he’d known about potential problems with the Club One contract. Colleague Garry Bredefeld echoed that statement.

“This is still pretty painful,” Brandau said of the audit’s findings. “How can we create a level of transparency that council feels comfortable for the next nine to twelve months (when a follow-up audit is expected)?”

“You trust your city manager being engaged,” Quan responded.

Watch Comments from Brandau, Quan, Esparza

Police, Public Works Audits in Pipeline

The meeting also revealed that the city’s internal auditor is working on two more audits.

One deals with police department timecards and is in the finishing stages.

Assistant City Manager Jane Sumpter said it could lead to a personnel action.

A second audit involves the public works department. That is in the beginning stages.

Parking Audit Timeline

Quan called for the parking audit in March 2018, in preparation for a transition of parking department leadership. Del Estabrook retired, and Thomas Gaffery took charge shortly thereafter.

The audit covered the period of July 2016 through March 2018.

Quan said that her office received the preliminary audit findings of the audit, authored by internal auditor Kriti Agrawal in “late fall of 2018.”

Management replied with a formal response “right before the holidays.” Those comments were included in the publicly released audit.

Agrawal finished a draft in January 2019. Quan asked to write an introductory memo before the audit was released in mid-February.

A follow-up audit is scheduled in nine to twelve months.

 

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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