Citing the need for transparency on issues ranging from a secret audit on money spent in the City’s MWBE program to the future of Parcel 5, Mayoral candidate James Sheppard called on Mayor Lovely Warren to participate in previously agreed-upon televised debates before the primary.
“I’m sorry that she doesn’t feel well,” Sheppard said. “But it’s a critical time. As Mayor, Lovely Warren owes it to City residents to answer questions about changes made to the mysterious MWBE audit, about the unpopular and unfunded theatre at Parcel 5, and about the continued lack of transparency in her Administration. It’s time to debate. The election won’t wait.”
Sheppard further called on Warren to release the draft MWBE audit that was the subject of a Democrat and Chronicle article last week. Sheppard says voters need answers on why the audit had been changed after it was reviewed in an obvious effort to soften the damning findings. In addition, it was very clear the harsh audit was being held until after the election and came to light only after it was obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle. Sheppard renewed his call for an overhaul of the Office of Public Integrity. “Amending an audit at the request of the department under examination defies all commonly accepted principles,” Sheppard said, referring to the standards of the National Association of Inspectors General. “And for the Director of Public Integrity to treat it as ‘business as usual’ is even more cause for alarm.”
Sheppard said that upon taking office, he would submit legislation to City Council to upgrade the Office of Public Integrity to meet national Inspector General standards. Having these standards in place, he said, would ensure transparency and restore trust in City government.
“From the flawed Request for Proposal process that brought us an unfunded Performing Arts Center at Parcel 5, to this WMBE audit, to the hiring of unqualified friends and family, City taxpayers have lost faith in their government to do what’s right,” Sheppard said.
“And unfortunately, Mayor Warren is avoiding yet another opportunity to explain her actions by withdrawing from the televised debates,” Sheppard said. “As a leader, you don’t get to pick the time to lead. You can’t say it’s okay to speak at one forum in front of business leaders but not in front of the whole community. The time to lead is now.”