Ignorance or fraud, city audit will determine
February 28, 2012
The signatures on a petition filed by electors of the city of Miami, Oklahoma and through the efforts of Jay Calan of 5 Star Equipment Company, Greg Hiebert of Miami Dental Care and CPA and attorney Mike Romero have been verified by the office of the auditor, state of Oklahoma. Romero, who was fired by the city as chief financial officer, for questioning irregularities with the city's finances will have his say. Their petition forces the city to open its books for a state audit that will:

  1. Review the grant revenues and expenditures, as well as other revenues and expenditures of the City of Miami and its public trust authorities, regarding the restoration project and operations of the Coleman Theatre.

  2. Review possible irregularities and noncompliance with regard to FEMA Disaster Assistance Funds received as a result of the 2007 flood disaster.

  3. Review possible irregularities in city purchasing policies and procedures, including (but not limited to) violations of the Public Competitive Bidding Act regarding a street improvements project funded by passage of a sales tax increase in 2010.

  4. Review notes payable series 2003 to present owed to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

  5. Review the City’s “Self-Funded” Retirement Plan.

In an e-mail to the JOPLIN INDEPENDENT, Romero accused the city of fraudulent practices. "The city has been committing fraud with its street bond project and possibly with its street bond financing issue," Romero wrote.

"They have no qualified professionals working there," Romero revealed. "They have no finance director. They had a director of budget that had no finance background and she is now the 'public relations director.'"

He accused the city attorney of selectively authorizing the fulfillment of Sunshine requests and trying to ambush a citizen's group attempting to sue the city for misappropriation of funds on the street project. In addition, he reveals that the mayor of Miami, Kent Ketcher, in order to stifle criticism has decided to disallow public comment at council meetings.

The estimated cost of the investigation, fully revealed in the petition, will range from $32,000 to $42,000 and shall be paid by the city of Miami in accordance with 74 O.S. 2001, § 212(L)(7).

Currently serving on the all-male board representing each of four wards in the city are Rudy Schultz, Scott Trussler, Terry Atkinson and John Dalgarn. A search committee recently was formed to find a replacement for Tim Wilson, the interim city manager who tendered his resignation effective April 26, 2012. He had been filling in for almost a year due to the resignation of Huey Long during a political battle among council members and a hotly contested mayoral race.

Wilson has claimed that his resignation had nothing to do with "the present controversy the city is experiencing."

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