James Sheppard, Democratic candidate for Mayor, today called upon Mayor Lovely Warren to immediately release to the public the audit conducted by the Internal Audit Department to assess the effectiveness of her efforts to ensure local minority and women-owned businesses get their fair share of city contracts.
According to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the draft audit has been circulating since last December, with some of the more damaging findings eliminated in recent drafts. “Lovely Warren has been quick to criticize the efforts of others, including those involved in the first phase of the School Modernization Program” Sheppard said.. “How ironic that she has not moved expeditiously to address these glaring deficiencies in programs directly under her control, instead wasting eight months arguing about how best to deflect responsibility. When your own auditors label the city’s minority participation numbers “unreliable” and “over-stated”, you have a serious problem.”
The truth is the City’s program is a mess and Mayor Warren has done nothing to correct it. At least the School Modernization Program has an independent compliance officer that issues public reports. Consistent with this administration’s total lack of transparency, they have resisted finalizing and releasing this report, instead trying to water down its findings. Sheppard added that the degree to which this audit is being manipulated for political purposes has underscored exactly why he called for an independent Office of Public Integrity back in June.
“Four years ago, Lovely Warren attacked prior administrations for their oversight of M/WBE programs,” said James Sheppard. “She’s had four years to address the issue and has done nothing about it. Conducting audits of programs needing review should have been put in motion on Day 1 of her administration, not three years down the road. The result? There are no controls in place and very limited documentation is needed to sidestep the rules. She has done nothing to address this broken program and her own belated audit shows it.
If Mayor Warren was serious about improving minority and women-owned business opportunities in Rochester, at a time when the unemployment rate in the minority community stands at an appalling 18%, she would have taken several steps:
- Identify and implement program improvements, including better tracking and documentation of compliance and better training of M/WBE program participants
- Update the outdated disparity study that supports the program’s hiring goals
- Better, more consistent enforcement of the waiver program
Lovely Warren is quick to criticize others and to take credit for anything positive. But when problems arise, her answer is to try to avoid responsibility. Rochester deserves better.
Under a Sheppard administration, commissioners and directors will be held responsible for tangible results. Audits – good or bad – won’t be hidden from the public. Instead of friends and cronies, the best and brightest will be brought into government to give our citizens the competent, open and ethical government they deserve.