Posts Tagged ‘Jim Houser’

$103K per year for 3 hours per week

June 16, 2017

OK, that headline is not fair. But the purpose of a headline is to get you to read the story. And the story here is about whether the Linn County Board of Supervisors (BOS) needs to meet three times per week.

From time to time over my past ten years as Auditor, I have asked the BOS to consider scheduling less public meetings. I usually bring it up when they complain about the cost of publishing their meeting minutes in the County’s four official newspapers. Why does the BOS need to meet three times per week? Maybe they could get their public work done in two meetings per week? And in some weeks, they could get their work done in one meeting per week. In fact, in one week earlier this year, they had one meeting via telephone that lasted five (5) minutes.

If you review the attachment, you will see that the BOS met publicly an average of just over three hours per week over the first 24 weeks of 2017. That tells me that they could get their work done in one meeting per week the majority of the time. Now, I am not advocating for less meetings because I want the BOS to work less, but preparing, holding, and reporting on three meetings per week takes up more staff time per week than meeting once per week. And it would likely reduce the length of the meeting minutes published in the newspapers.

As for the individual BOS members attendance records, they range from a low of 76% attendance to a high of 89% attendance for the first 24 weeks of 2017. Seems like their attendance could be higher if the members cooperated with each other and scheduled their official meetings around vacations and other county business. The BOS’s three meetings per week ritual seems to be carved in stone … except when it’s not. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

BOS Attendance week ending 6-16-2017.xlsx

Related party transactions – part 1

February 22, 2016

On 12/11/2015, EideBailly LLP, an independent auditor hired by the Linn County Board of Supervisors, confirmed several FY2015 (7/1/2014 – 6/30/2015) business transactions (BT) referred by the Linn County Auditor (LCA).  The following tax dollar BTs occurred between officials/employees of the County and their relatives. They are included on page 17 of the County’s 2015 Compliance Report .

Several other BTs were reported by the LCA to EideBailly LLP and the County’s Office of Finance & Budget; however, they were not included in the Compliance Report. They will be disclosed on this blog in the next few days.

LCA’s referral case # – County employee name & organization in FY2015 – Relationship – Description – Amount spent in FY2015

FY15-019     JAMES HOUSER – Board of Supervisors – SPOUSE is Deputy Medical Examiner – Services – $11,071

FY15-006     JUDY CUMMINGS – Options employee – SPOUSE is owner of Aqua Technologies – Supplies – $9,428

FY15-031     GAYLE KEISER – Attorney’s Office employee – SISTER is JoAnne Morenz – Services – $5,981

FY15-003     JOHN GAHRING – Sheriff’s Office employee – PARENT is owner of Gahring Machine & Manufacturing – Supplies – $3,960

FY15-004     GAYLE KEISER – Attorney’s Office employee – DAUGHTER is Mackenzie Keiser – Services – $3,802

FY15-030     BRIAN CLANEY – Attorney’s Office employee – SPOUSE is Ann Claney – Services – $477

FY15-028     LINDA LANGSTON – Board of Supervisors – SPOUSE is David Langston – Services – $219

FY15-021     KAYLA DAVIS – Recorder’s Office employee – SPOUSE is Todd Davis – Supplies – $24

Please be advised that the disclosure of these BTs does NOT imply any wrongdoing of any kind. The purpose of these disclosures is to illustrate to the public and taxpayers that Linn County is transparent in spending its tax dollars. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

It’s called being proactive

June 11, 2010

[Update 10:52am, 14 June 2010:  NCSML provided their 2008 IRS Form 990 to the BOS and it’s now filed in the public record along with the CAT grant application presentation]

On May 10th, I posted Want public money? Let’s see your 990  To my knowledge, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) has not considered my suggestion.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard Cedar Rapids City Councilor Chuck Wieneke tell the BBRE’s audience on WMT600AM that the only thing he knew about the City of Cedar Rapids’ offer to GoDaddy was what he read in The Gazette.

I’m not saying that anyone is doing anything wrong, i.e., that the BOS is giving tax dollars to anyone who is undeserving or that the City of CR doesn’t have the right to make an offer to GoDaddyWhat is wrong is the perceived lack of openness and transparency associated with these transactions.

Tentatively, the BOS’s June 14th agenda will include this item:  National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) presentation on CAT grant application and Linn County’s participation.  I’m not privy to the details of this item.  I usually learn the details in the same manner as the public, i.e., I have to sit through the BOS meetings to learn the details.

Will the BOS require the NCSML to provide their 2009 IRS Form 990 to the BOS prior participating in the CAT grant application?  I doubt it.  Would they if asked?  Most likely, but no one asks.

Why doesn’t anyone ask?  Maybe it’s because Supervisor Lu Barron is on the board of the NCSML?  Maybe it’s because Supervisor Jim Houser was a former member of the board for six years?  Maybe it’s because one board member is the husband of a CR City Councilor or one board member is the mother of a state representative or one board member works for the Governor (per the 2008 IRS Form 990).  Who knows?

I walk the talk when it comes to openness and transparency.  Don’t believe me?  Look at or follow me on or read this blog.

Let’s assume that I am extreme in my views of openness and transparency in government.  If I am, would it hurt if other electeds and local government bodies met me halfway?  It would go a long way towards destroying the conspiracy theories before they become urban legend.  It would improve our credibility.

It’s called being proactive.  What’s the down side?

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