Your Opinion: Taking a closer look

Dear Editor:

In recent letters to the editor, I aimed a flashlight inside a long running “no bid” contract the city has with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce (JCACC) for what the contract terms call “economic development services” and took a look around. I noted a lack of required written records. The JCACC subsequently released some pertinent records.

Now JCACC officials are making statements that need severe correction. According to the News Tribune, a JCACC official stated that “the chamber has always been required to give reports to the city, but there was nothing that specified reports be written.”

I seriously disagree.

In Section 5, in both the 2007 and 2011 contracts it states: “The Chamber agrees to furnish the City, at the end of each contract period, a complete financial audit report prepared by a CAP.” By definition, all financial audits are written. There is no such thing as a verbal audit. Therefore by logic, the JCACC was required to submit something written concerning (at least) its use of taxpayer money, contrary to JCACC claims it is not required. The plaintive cries by this organization that this is unnecessary or difficult or not required fall on unforgiving taxpayer ears.

At a minimum, JCACC has not in the past followed the spirit of the law, which calls for transparency and openness by anyone getting grants from taxpayer money. The new contract needs to be opened by the city, and stiffer requirements for written reports and audits added. This would remove the “written” technicality they are standing behind. The JCACC owes that much to taxpayers. They should welcome it, not complain or make excuses. The city needs to make sure such reports are open for taxpayers to view, and our mayor has indicated that this will be done.

If the shoe was on the other foot and an entity other than JCACC had the contract, the JCACC would be howling that the money being spent wasn’t creating jobs. They would demand written reports and audits just like I am. Looking at today’s “The Chamber Today” publication (yes, I read it) I see that this process has begun.

Interested citizens and taxpayers will continue to watch this. I am sure glad the Transformation sales tax didn’t pass; imagine this situation with $50 million.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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