Accountability

Something smells

Despite indulgent remuneration provided the BC Legislature’s senior executives — including hundreds of thousands of dollars paid secretly — financial problems at the institution have continued for more than a decade.

Six years ago, Auditor General John Doyle delivered a report to Speaker Bill Barisoff. It was Report 5, titled Audit of the Legislative Assembly’s Financial Records.

The missive was written a year after Craig James was appointed Clerk, by a divided vote on a motion by Rich Coleman, without an open competition. The cover letter included this:

The results of this audit would likely have been much more positive had the Legislative Assembly implemented the recommendations made in my Office’s 2007 report on the same topic. However, because of the large number of significant and pervasive issues identified, I am unable to conclude as to whether all the amounts recorded in the Legislative Assembly’s trial balance for the fiscal years ended March 31, 2009, 2010, or 2011 were correct…

Consequently, the Legislative Assembly clearly falls short of the basic accounting and financial management standards that the rest of the provincial public sector is required to meet.

In this report, I recommend that the Legislative Assembly take steps to immediately address the numerous and pervasive deficiencies reported as a result of my audit of the Legislative Assembly’s financial records and my Office’s 2007 Special Audit Report to the Speaker.

Consequently, the Legislative Assembly clearly falls short of the basic accounting and financial management standards that the rest of the provincial public sector is required to meet.

After James was appointed senior officer of the Assembly, his predecessor, 81-year-old George MacMinn, continued to be paid as a consultant, receiving at least $611,055 plus travel expenses of $37,126 in fiscal years 2012-14.

The 2012 Auditor General’s report is devastating and Liberals were made uncomfortable by what it said. For this and other issues, they launched a campaign to undermine John Doyle and eventually ended his tenure. In a mean-spirited act, government squabbled about paying amounts he was due.

Vancouver Sun political writer Vaughn Palmer aided the Liberal government’s effort, disrespectfully referring to Doyle as “his scrappy-ness himself”. Palmer laid considerable blame for the financial chaos on elderly George MacMinn and gave Craig James a pass, writing that the new Clerk had commissioned a report.

Auditor General Doyle’s report reverberates today, given the actions of Speak Darryl Plecas. Here are a few extracts:

Further, due to the magnitude of many of the internal control issues encountered, and the inability of the Legislative Assembly to provide timely documentation to support their financial results, I required significantly more time and resources to complete my work than I would have reasonably expected for an organization of this size.

I anticipated that the Legislative Assembly would meet the basic financial management practices and accounting standards requirements established for the rest of government. However, the Legislative Assembly is clearly falling well short of these basic expectations.

Additionally, the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, the governing body of the Legislative Assembly, appears to have had little or no involvement in either providing governance over the Legislative Assembly’s financial and operational activities, or in this audit.

As of the date of this report, I have not been provided the opportunity to discuss any aspect of this audit with the committee, as is typical practice, especially given the pervasive and significant nature of the issues identified.

...Management has deferred resolution of a significant number of my recommendations to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, even though the Committee does not appear to be actively involved in the Legislative Assembly’s operational activities.

Furthermore, many of the decisions deferred to the Committee are within the already defined authorities of Legislative Assembly staff.

…I recommend that the Legislative Assembly take steps to immediately address the numerous and pervasive deficiencies reported in my audit of
the Legislative Assembly’s financial records for the years ending March 31, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and in my Office’s 2007 Special Audit Report to the Speaker.

Typical of the work circulated around the province by Liberal friendly media is a dreadful hit-piece by Tom Fletcher of Black Press. The sub-heading is:

B.C. legislature speaker’s latest self-serving move is incredible.

So, the one public official to raise his voice and demand a forensic audit of Legislative finances is set upon by Fletcher and other loyal Liberal partisans who masquerade as journalists. These are responses that ought to shock every right-thinking citizen of British Columbia.

Categories: Accountability, Ethics

Tagged as: ,

17 replies »

  1. Wonder if that $150,000 check Christy wrote to support one of her “friends or relatives” supporters who was trying to get elected in Haidai Gwaii came out of that slush fund?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Plecas seriously needs to spill the beans now and release this burden for his own sake and sanity. The investigation will still continue. The public outrage will be an important component until the law finishes up, and hopefully properly. But for Plecas to not go into full whistleblower combat mode is folly. He has to many wolves surrounding him and wanting to go at him. I think the longer he waits, the worse it will get and it’s showing on him.

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    • “Spilling the beans” won’t make Plecas feel any better, trust me. The investigation needs to go forward in silence, just as the Mueller investigation has gone forward in silence. It is only under these circumstances that a good investigation gets carried out, with no warnings to those who will be caught up in it. Most people who engage in these types of activities have an attitude they won’t be caught, giving them a heads up, is not good investigative practise. It gives them too much time to co-ordinate their lies and burn the documents, etc.

      Plecas is a big boy and he will weather this storm. he survived academia.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Who initiated the RCMP investigation? Its a cloudy issue, and I don’t see John Doyles observations appearing anywhere but here.
    It appears Plecas was appointed by the Liberals, and its clear to myself that outrageous money does tend to disconnect the public aspirations for democracy from being represented.
    One could reason that the political parties ought to pay us rent on the use of the legislature.
    Unaccountability even by the norm.

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    • No trouble at all Hugh. I’ve heard others say they have trouble making comments. Some of those people are subscribed so that WordPress sends notifications when new articles are published. However, clicking on the link in the notice appears to go to the WordPress reader and ask for a login.

      Better to go directly to https://in-sights.ca/, click on the appropriate article and use the comment form there.

      Occasionally, I will make minor updates to an article so going directly to my website to read will provide the best version.

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      • Now I’m on Wordsmith as well as. By accident I found out the replies I’ve been getting.Thanks for going to the trouble.
        All is well here.

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  4. Fletcher’s attempted hit piece on Mr. Plecas reminds me of the genius who recently shot himself in the groin in the meat department of an Arizona Walmart. He has a weapon, but no idea how to use it without hurting himself.

    Fletch variously describes the two Speakers who preceded Mr. Plecas and oversaw the activities of the Clerk as spendthrifts who ruled with “near-absolute authority”, an “imperial disdain”, and who “kept a tight leash on the press gallery and a veil over legislature finances”. No mention that this would be a perfect climate for abuse of the public purse or that an Auditor General had raised continuous major concerns about that very thing. Might an incoming Speaker with a special background in criminology and the public interest in mind find some evidence of concern?

    He says, “We now know that Plecas hired his buddy and campaign worker as a political adviser, a job never before seen in the speaker’s office, and that buddy spent months conducting some sort of amateur gumshoe investigation.” What he doesn’t explain is how, with over thirty dedicated journalists covering the Legislature, we only know it now. With the history of the Speaker’s office he started out detailing, shouldn’t they all have been watching it closely?

    Next comes the heart of his article, which purpose seems to be to slag Mr. Plecas and “his buddy” (Alan Mullen). It comprises 68% of the article and is basically a complaint about how the Speaker’s position was attained and “his buddy” was hired. How this relates to the question of what they discovered and reported to the RCMP is not examined, other than to insinuate that Mr. Mullen was unqualified for whatever role he played.

    I believe his last paragraph is a special insult to both logic and journalism. We are asked to believe that the RCMP (who have already been investigating for months), and two special prosecutors may investigate for more months or even years based on nothing more than the “suspicions of a professor-turned-politician and his sidekick”.

    Would developers/car salespeople/farmers/media types -turned-politician and their sidekicks be more credible than professors and theirs? Why the need to stick the “professor” label in there unless the intent is to imply there is something inferior about that background as it relates to this issue?

    Maybe the title to the article is a clue. “Speaker Darryl Plecas demonstrates his character again.”

    Somebody’s character certainly took a hit here; but it wasn’t that of Mr. Plecas.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it was rather “funny” when Fletcher attacked Speaker Plecas and his advisor, Mr. Mullen. You have to have a good laugh when the media covered Mr. Mullen’s drinking while on the job 10 years ago. No mention of el gordo’s drunk driving charge there. Media didn’t even give it that much play when it occurred. Much has been made, in the media, about that, but no one lists the excessive drinking habits of the politicians and media over the past oh, so 60 years…………..O.K. if that is too far back, lets just stay in this century. We only have to check out the watering holes of the politicians and media, not to mention the favorite water holes/golf courses of some politicians and media, need we go on.

      I would suggest Fletcher used the “professor” label because he wants to infer
      Speaker Plecas has no real life experience. Fletcher, in my opinion, is nothing more than a “tool” for the B.C. LieberCons and has once again demonstrated that more than adequately with the article. He and other media and politicians can slag Speaker Plecas and Mr. Mullen as much as they want, but when that investigation is concluded, it will say enough.

      In the mean time watch how many politicians and media start taking vacations outside of the country…….might be interesting.

      Now given Mr. Fletcher opened the door on drinking, who has the records of all the politicians and media who have drinking “problems” have drunk to excess on the job, after the job, in public, etc. Shall we start counting Mr. Fletcher? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Funny how some things take on different meanings after more facts come to light; this comment was both insightful and prescient. That is, as more little bits of info come to light about what the Speaker did and said and now explains a little bit of why it begins to make more sense. We have learned that before the change in government the management of the Legislature was a bit hierarchical and beyond purview by the public interest, which is a prime recipe for abuses even if relatively minor in amounts of dollars though we don’t know that yet, though we do know there were some big jumps in #BCLeg outlays in recent years.

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  5. As Speaker Plecas, said, he bet his job on his actions. Given his academic back ground, and his work history, people like him rarely make bets they can’t win.

    Recalling all of this as it happens, its nice to see the chickens may come home to roost. Of course the MSM will most likely give it a nothing here to see, just move along. It maybe up to the bloggers once again to provide the real news in this province. Oh, perhaps one of the eastern papers or the New York Times will cove rit.

    Perhaps it really is time to have an inquiry into the whole mess known as B.C. Not having agreed to that, in the past, because I felt it was more important to move along to deal with the issues of today, the past continues to haunt us and cost us. If nothing else we might be able to collect some of that money if there was any wrong doing and the taxpaying citizens may demand changes. We have taxpaying citizens who are demanding changes to how we deal with the environment. Well perhaps we will now have taxy paying citizens who demand changes to how the government “deals” with our money to pay themselves and their staff and cause the media to have a think about how they contributed to this mess. Wonder which MSM organization or politicians stands up to be counted.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with you that MSM should be doing more digging and exposing along this line but perhaps their past overlooking it makes a present expose a little more uncomfortable. OTOH the Clerk and SgtatArms control the issuance of precious corridor passes plus many other subtle perqs so biting those hands could easily backfire. It begs for an investigation by independent outsiders.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good points made by John, a man who spent many days walking in the corridors of the Legislature.

      Very true that Press Gallery denizens are likely to find it uncomfortable to report today on abuses if they’ve ignored them for years.

      Also, if they’ve come to rely on perquisites or access to information, it is hard to be disloyal to the people who provided favourable accommodations.

      Good internal control systems do not allow any group of individuals to continue in the same positions for long periods of time. If they do, it increases the need for independent oversight. A number of Press Gallery players have been there for a very long time.

      It’s one thing to be conversant with political history of the Ledge; quite another thing to have become a semi-permanent fixture, grown too comfortable with the status quo and overly friendly with the people whose actions need to be examined.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Coleman chortling in the cheap seats is IMO a sign of nervousness, not bravado at innocence. He and Farnworth were one-two at running LAMC for quite a few years but now they have an independent outsider as Speaker with a background in expert criminology on their hands. I say Plecas should be supported in his quest even if he over-reached a bit with his hired aide. The big picture is that there’s a big budget for the govt agency supposedly responsible for managing the public interest of a quite-larger government but it has had virtually no public purview. That’s an anachronism that must change – starting about 10 years ago, or more – maybe back to 2001 when Campbell’s wrecking crew had a 77 to 2 advantage in The Ledge and they tried to and did deny the Opposition a decent research budget. Disgusting. But it also was the NDP’s fault for running such a weak regime in the latter years of 1991-2001. They fixated on gender and orientation issues and other minority special interests and so badly lost touch with the public interest, and then the CampLibs got in….

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  8. Rich Coleman? The minister who accepted to what appeared to the public as a $26,600 bribe from Kazuko Komatus’ brewery in exchange for the donation to Rich’s re-election fundraiser. The brewer would earn a $10 million savings on taxes and all that was needed was Coleman’s signature. Coleman returned the money, interest included.

    Rob Shaw like most of the reporters are grabbing at straws and the only thing missing is a write up on the clothes that were worn, pressed or rumpled, instead we got: “Normally jovial, the veteran NDP MLA Mike Farnworth spent much of the meeting with his face red, his lips tight in a grimace and his glasses twisted into the corner of his mouth where he chewed upon them as a kind of improvised stress-relief technique.” & “The outburst from Plecas made the NDP nervous.”

    Like

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