Commissioners continue to take flak for Rogers

A local political party appeared beforethe LeFlore County Commissioners to askfor an investigative audit of the county.Dewey Harrison, a representative of theLeFlore County Tea Party was given fiveminutes to speak to the commissionersregarding the ongoing issue. The exchangewas heated from the start.“The Tea Party has now decided wewould like to ask for an investigativeaudit.” Harrison said. “We have examinedthe audits closely, and if there is any disagreementhere we would like for you totell us we’re wrong, but the audits clearlydemonstrate that there’s a lack of internalcontrol down here at the courthouse andwe still believe that.”Harrison said, "It hasn’t changed it’sstill business as usual." He went on toclaim that two commissioners voted ondisbursing federal forestry and road fundsagainst the advice of the district attorneywith regard to distributing funds evenlybetween all three districts. The commissionersstated that they hadn’t voted onsuch a measure that it had been discussedbut action was not taken.Harrison advised that several newspaperaccounts suggested otherwise.The commissioners advised him thatnewspapers can be wrong and everyoneneeded to get their facts straight beforethey started pointing fingers in a publicforum.District 2 Commissioner Lance Smithwent on to say that if the commissionersdidn’t divide the funds up equally his districtwould actually be entitled to two percentmore than they currently receive. Hesaid that District 1 would be the districtthat would face the worst cut if the fundswere not distributed evenly. The commissionerssaid that they are looking out forthe county as a whole. They want toimprove the roads for everyone.At that point Harrison said he was onlyspeaking about forestry funds. He thencontinued by talking about violations foundin the recent audit such as equipment procurement,missing equipment and forgeddocuments and referred to the 2008-09audit and a number of other things includingalleged EEOC violations for improperhiring practices.The commissioners pointed out that achange over audit had been conducted, bythe State Auditor’s office.Harrison said a full investigative auditneeded to be called for by the commissionersin order to "clear the air." He said thatthe Tea Party believes that more problemswould be discovered if a full investigativeaudit were conducted.A back and forth between Harrison andCommissioner Lance Smith ensued duringwhich Harrison asked Smith several questionsdirectly about not being in compliancewith the disbursement of federalfunds. Harrison indicated that Smithwouldn’t answer those questions. He laterstated to Harrison directly that he did notbelieve that any federal funds had beenmisappropriated.Smith stated “I have sat here for the last10 years, worked diligently for the peopleof LeFlore County. I feel like I’ve been apart of a lot of accomplishments for thiscounty. I’ve worked very very hard to tryan obtain a lot of goals here in the county.. . and you come down here and just almostlike with a venom you spew out after us.We try to work with the people’s moneydiligently . . . we use it for the roads, tofund the offices, to try to do the very bestwe can with it. . . we just had an audit, likeI said, from the state auditor’s office. Ifthere’s any criminal negligence found inthat audit, you can ask the district attorney,they always turn that over to the districtattorney and they will attach state statutesto those criminal negligence's when theyturn it over to the D.A.’s office.”Harrison said the group has gone throughevery step of the proper process to try andget the investigative audit.“All that it would take today, is for twoof you to vote for an investigative audit orfor you to request an investigative auditand we could have one.”Smith asked Harrison if he was preparedto pay for an investigative audit. The commissionershave long contended that theexpense of a second audit isn’t necessarygiven that an audit was just completed andthe county is already in a budget crisis.“No sir, but I’m paying for the $500,000that you and your cohorts have mismanaged.It was not a mistake, it was byintent,” Harrison said.The commissioners along with CountyClerk Kelli Ford took offense to the statementby Harrison and he was informed thathis five minutes were up. He had actuallybeen allowed to speak for approximately10 minutes. The crowd asked if the commissionerswere going to call for an audit,to which Smith advised, he planned tomake a motion to adjourn. Several membersof the crowd expressed their frustrationthat a vote on the audit wasn’t going tobe taken.The crowd felt that the audit that wasconducted was not for the purpose of lookingfor criminal actions. Smith reiteratedthat if violations on a criminal level hadbeen found during the audit the StateAuditor’s office would have had no choicebut to notify the DA’s office of those violations.According to Smith a new audit couldcost the county as much as $40,000. Thecommissioners continued to answer questionsfrom the audience. Several stated thatthey believe that the commissioners wecurrently have are honest men but theydidn’t like the way that the meeting wasconducted. One audience member went sofar as to say that their concern was withformer commissioner Carroll WayneRogers in District One. Rogers was not reelectedand hasn’t been in office sinceJanuary 2011. The crowd assured the commissionersthat their qualms were not withthem but with Rogers and what took placewhile he was in office. They were not tryingto place blame on anyone else, they dowant an audit because they want the chanceto recoup funds from Rogers by charginghim criminally. LeFlore County AssistantDistrict Attorney Marion Fry was also onhand to answer questions from the crowd.Ford also answered several questions toattempt to explain that they have no way tochange the way the purchase order systemworks. If her office isn’t called to ask for apurchase order number they have no way toknow that a P.O. has been issued.“When you have somebody that’s notturning them in there’s nothing you can doabout that,” she said. “We are trying tostraighten things out but it’s not going to bedone overnight. We are doing it by the law onthe P.. system.”She said that every office in the state thatuses the Kelpro numbering system does it thesame way. It was also pointed out that businesses,by law, are not supposed to sell productsor services without a P.O. number.