COLEMAN: An Independent Auditor General in 2023?

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Joey Coleman/The Public Record

The West Wing of the second floor at Hamilton City Hall, the location of the offices of Hamilton's 15 Ward Councillors

The 2022 municipal election is only two years away, and already the election campaign is underway.

City Hall is in election mode now, with the City Clerk destroying advisory committee meeting videos, the “Integrity Commissioner” going after citizens (while allowing Councillors to threaten people using their public offices), Council threatening to use the IC against more citizens, and capital budgets being prepared to maximize ribbon cuttings in 2022.

Out in the communities of Hamilton, various resident groups are building grassroots movements to elect new Councillors who will serve the public interest and end the constant stream (or sewage leak if you prefer) of cover-ups, scandals, and closed sessions which are the norm for Hamilton City Hall and City Council.

I expect many of these movements, and new candidates, will put forth calls for the City to adopt a fully independent Auditor General to both uncover ongoing cover-ups and corrupt practices, and to ensure more efficient and effective use of public resources into the future. One of the excuses advanced by the Old Guard faction at City Hall is the cost of an independent Auditor General, and that Hamilton is much smaller than Ottawa and Toronto. It is true, Hamilton has a smaller population than Toronto or Ottawa.

Sudbury, population 165,000, has an independent Auditor General. So does Windsor, population 233,763. Windsor’s AG is an external accounting firm. (Ottawa’s AG farms out investigations to a list of per-qualified firms as needed)

An note about the present internal auditor, Charles Brown. While he is much too close to Council, with some members of Council referring to him as “Charlie” during meetings and it being rare that he is referred to with the proper Mr. Brown that one would expect in a professional environment, Brown is fiercely defended by internal city staff with strong ethics.

Today’s tabling of the first-ever “fraud and waste annual report” is an interesting milestone. On one hand, how it is in 2020 that this is only just happening for the first time? On the other, after years of nobody filing complaints to the auditor regarding malfeasance, that finally the independent whistleblower hotline has enabled complaints is a stepping stone that a new City Council can use to clean up corrupt practices within the City government.

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First published: October 22, 2020
Last edited: October 22, 2020
Author: Joey Coleman

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