Friday, Sep. 28, 2012
Yesterday, the Cass County Courthouse was a site of Revelation. The outside auditor’s report was presented to the public by the county Commission. A representative of the auditing firm reported on the most egregious errors discovered and answered questions from the two attending Commissioners. The County Auditor was added to the discussion. He and the outside auditor presented a number of revelations to the public including $2 million in overspending in several projects.
Not only were the projects overspent, but over $1 million could not be properly accounted for. Money had been spent with no invoice nor receipt to indicate why the money had been spent.
The first revelation: Four hundred thousand dollars had been paid on the BioFuels project but only $50,000 in expenses and assets, could be accounted for. A visit to the site found only a used tank some piping and pumps. The prototype supposedly built by those funds was a failure. Where was the remaining $350,000?
The second revelation was in the Broadband project. $1.7 million had been spent and only $700,000 can be accounted for. Timesheets, invoices and receipts only totaled $700,000. Where was the remaining $1 million?
The third revelation was the disclosure of conflicts of interest in these projects by all of the 2012 commissioners. The planned bio-fuel pipeline for the Justice Center’s power plant was routed through property owned by a commissioner. The two other commissioners were heavily involved in the engineering company designing the Broadband project. Money was paid to the engineering company with no supporting documentation, nor a contract!
The final revelation came during the followup Q&A with the public, Terry Wilson announced that the Department of Justice has started an investigation. Some of the funds not accounted for were provided by the Department of Agriculture. The only serving Commissioner from that time was conspicuously absent. That, too, raised a number of questions about his conduct.
The public attendees were enraged. Several members asked why those involved were not in jail or charged with fraud. Terry Wilson, Presiding Commissioner said they have no authority to do so. All they can do is document what happened and turn that documentation over to the proper legal authorities. That has been done. As one retired lawyer in the audience said, “While the wheels of justice grind slowly, they do grind very fine.”