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Commissioners continue to take flak for Rogers

October 28, 2011

A local political party appeared before
the LeFlore County Commissioners to ask
for an investigative audit of the county.
Dewey Harrison, a representative of the
LeFlore County Tea Party was given five
minutes to speak to the commissioners
regarding the ongoing issue. The exchange
was heated from the start.
“The Tea Party has now decided we
would like to ask for an investigative
audit.” Harrison said. “We have examined
the audits closely, and if there is any disagreement
here we would like for you to
tell us we’re wrong, but the audits clearly
demonstrate that there’s a lack of internal
control down here at the courthouse and
we still believe that.”
Harrison said, "It hasn’t changed it’s
still business as usual." He went on to
claim that two commissioners voted on
disbursing federal forestry and road funds
against the advice of the district attorney
with regard to distributing funds evenly
between all three districts. The commissioners
stated that they hadn’t voted on
such a measure that it had been discussed
but action was not taken.
Harrison advised that several newspaper
accounts suggested otherwise.
The commissioners advised him that
newspapers can be wrong and everyone
needed to get their facts straight before
they started pointing fingers in a public
forum.
District 2 Commissioner Lance Smith
went on to say that if the commissioners
didn’t divide the funds up equally his district
would actually be entitled to two percent
more than they currently receive. He
said that District 1 would be the district
that would face the worst cut if the funds
were not distributed evenly. The commissioners
said that they are looking out for
the county as a whole. They want to
improve the roads for everyone.
At that point Harrison said he was only
speaking about forestry funds. He then
continued by talking about violations found
in the recent audit such as equipment procurement,
missing equipment and forged
documents and referred to the 2008-09
audit and a number of other things including
alleged EEOC violations for improper
hiring practices.
The commissioners pointed out that a
change over audit had been conducted, by
the State Auditor’s office.
Harrison said a full investigative audit
needed to be called for by the commissioners
in order to "clear the air." He said that
the Tea Party believes that more problems
would be discovered if a full investigative
audit were conducted.
A back and forth between Harrison and
Commissioner Lance Smith ensued during
which Harrison asked Smith several questions
directly about not being in compliance
with the disbursement of federal
funds. Harrison indicated that Smith
wouldn’t answer those questions. He later
stated to Harrison directly that he did not
believe that any federal funds had been
misappropriated.
Smith stated “I have sat here for the last
10 years, worked diligently for the people
of LeFlore County. I feel like I’ve been a
part of a lot of accomplishments for this
county. I’ve worked very very hard to try
an obtain a lot of goals here in the county.
. . and you come down here and just almost
like with a venom you spew out after us.
We try to work with the people’s money
diligently . . . we use it for the roads, to
fund the offices, to try to do the very best
we can with it. . . we just had an audit, like
I said, from the state auditor’s office. If
there’s any criminal negligence found in
that audit, you can ask the district attorney,
they always turn that over to the district
attorney and they will attach state statutes
to those criminal negligence's when they
turn it over to the D.A.’s office.”
Harrison said the group has gone through
every step of the proper process to try and
get the investigative audit.
“All that it would take today, is for two
of you to vote for an investigative audit or
for you to request an investigative audit
and we could have one.”
Smith asked Harrison if he was prepared
to pay for an investigative audit. The commissioners
have long contended that the
expense of a second audit isn’t necessary
given that an audit was just completed and
the county is already in a budget crisis.
“No sir, but I’m paying for the $500,000
that you and your cohorts have mismanaged.
It was not a mistake, it was by
intent,” Harrison said.
The commissioners along with County
Clerk Kelli Ford took offense to the statement
by Harrison and he was informed that
his five minutes were up. He had actually
been allowed to speak for approximately
10 minutes. The crowd asked if the commissioners
were going to call for an audit,
to which Smith advised, he planned to
make a motion to adjourn. Several members
of the crowd expressed their frustration
that a vote on the audit wasn’t going to
be taken.
The crowd felt that the audit that was
conducted was not for the purpose of looking
for criminal actions. Smith reiterated
that if violations on a criminal level had
been found during the audit the State
Auditor’s office would have had no choice
but to notify the DA’s office of those violations.
According to Smith a new audit could
cost the county as much as $40,000. The
commissioners continued to answer questions
from the audience. Several stated that
they believe that the commissioners we
currently have are honest men but they
didn’t like the way that the meeting was
conducted. One audience member went so
far as to say that their concern was with
former commissioner Carroll Wayne
Rogers in District One. Rogers was not reelected
and hasn’t been in office since
January 2011. The crowd assured the commissioners
that their qualms were not with
them but with Rogers and what took place
while he was in office. They were not trying
to place blame on anyone else, they do
want an audit because they want the chance
to recoup funds from Rogers by charging
him criminally. LeFlore County Assistant
District Attorney Marion Fry was also on
hand to answer questions from the crowd.
Ford also answered several questions to
attempt to explain that they have no way to
change the way the purchase order system
works. If her office isn’t called to ask for a
purchase order number they have no way to
know that a P.O. has been issued.
“When you have somebody that’s not
turning them in there’s nothing you can do
about that,” she said. “We are trying to
straighten things out but it’s not going to be
done overnight. We are doing it by the law on
the P.. system.”
She said that every office in the state that
uses the Kelpro numbering system does it the
same way. It was also pointed out that businesses,
by law, are not supposed to sell products
or services without a P.O. number.

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