Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Very Relevant Column - The Dean Comes Through


Yesterday morning I took umbrage with the fact that the only political party that Vaughn Palmer audio name-blamed for the shameful, and longstanding, financial shenanigans at the British Columbia Legislature was the NDP.

That singularly narrowly-focussed name-blaming was levelled during one of those cynical quick hits on CKNW with Philip Till where the air is thick with 'way more-holier-than-thou-and-thou-and-thou' codswallop.

But in print, in his VSun column yesterday, Mr. Palmer was much more thorough and complete.

And he got to the heart of the matter.

To wit:

VICTORIA There must have been some bittersweet laughter across the provincial public sector Thursday afternoon, after the release of the auditor-general's report on the fiscal farce that passes for bookkeeping at the legislative assembly...

{snippety  doo-dah}

...The details are laid out in a 17-page report. Bank balances that bore no resemblance to bank statements. Invoices never reported. Accounts so out of whack that Doyle can't begin to certify them as correct. An assembly that doesn't file annual financial statements, rendering the audit trail some-what bereft.
These findings did not come as a bolt from the blue. The auditor-general first put the assembly on notice about serious deficiencies in accounting practices in 2007.

He was ignored. "The results of this audit would likely have been much more positive had the legislative assembly implemented the recommendations made in my office's 2007 report on the same topic," as he noted Thursday...

{snippety doodle-dandy}

...More than a year ago, he (Doyle) sent a draft report to the Speaker's office with a longer list of concerns. Later in the year, two more preliminary reports.

Still there was no rush to square up the books. Twice I wrote about the holdup in this space. The coverup continued.

Finally, after all the stalling and secrecy, Doyle put out a media release this week advising that he would be delivering a finished copy of his findings to the Speaker's office on Tuesday morning. That did it...

{snippety doodle-dandier}

...Blame? I fault Barisoff first and foremost. In a media conference call, he tried to suggest that the problem involved some sort of "personality conflict" between the auditor-general and the legislature's in-house comptroller...

{snippety doodle-dandiest}

...Barisoff has known about these concerns for a long time. Whether through bad advice or the imperiousness that sometimes infects the world-apart atmosphere of the legislature, he failed to act decisively to settle them.

I'd also blame the legislative assembly management committee (LAMC), an all-party committee chaired by Barisoff which is supposed to oversee the affairs of the assembly. It rarely meets, and then only in secret, and its decisions are not always made public. Several years ago the committee delegated Barisoff and the then clerk of the legislature, George MacMinn, (who has since retired) to address Doyle's concerns. But I'm told there is no minute to that effect.

John Horgan, an LAMC member in his capacity as house leader for the New Democrats, took his share of the blame for the laxity. He also disclosed that the committee has only been called into session a couple of times since he was appointed a year ago and he wasn't shown a full copy of Doyle's report, draft or otherwise, until Tuesday.

Horgan praised the new clerk of the legislature, Craig James, for getting the ball rolling on addressing Doyle's concerns. But he agreed with the auditor-general that a lot more needs to be done. And soon...


I know that Mr. Palmer is very likely the hardest working proMedia person in Victoria*.

And I know that he likes to take the long view of things.

I just think that, sometimes (and sometimes often), that 'historical' long view keeps him from writing harder.

That was not the case yesterday (even with the historical background included).


To whomever actually owns the VSun and/or PNG and/or Postmedia these days... I apologize for excerpting so much much of Mr. Palmer's column (usually I just use lede's or short snippets to try and facilitate click throughs), but after slagging him for his brief audio passage with Mr. Till yesterday I felt it important to demonstrate the full weight of his fair share blamefest in print....I did leave out the stuff at the end of the column, which actually may be most important thing of all down the road...That part was a discussion of whether or not Mr. Doyle will be reappointed as AudGen...The Dean wants him.... The Dipper Mr. Horgan says he wants him....But....The appointment committee?....Well, just like the longstandingly lame LAMC, it contains a majority of LINOs....Sounds like a potential election wedge issue to me if Mr. Doyle is not sitting once again in the AG's chair come next spring...
*Assuming that Mr. Holman is now relaxing and reclining in the luxurious world of academia...Ha!
Oh....And thanks to the Anon-O-Mouse who set me straight about Mr. Palmer's column in the comments to yesterday's post...I actually didn't read it until this morning for a couple of reasons...Firstly, had a couple of pseudo-academic deadlines yesterday (what, I work in the summer??!!)...Secondly, when I went to buy my pile of pre-weekend Friday night dead-tree papers I just couldn't bring myself to pick-up the VSun given it's egregious holier-than-even-P. Diddlyesque cover...



Anonymous said...

Who was Speaker before Barisoff? What sort of precedent was set?

There were only 2 in Opposition then - hardly capable of riding herd on the the 77 drunk with their new found powers.

(We still haven't recovered from the dismantling of the apprenticeship system 10 years on.)

RossK said...

Good questions Anon--

These types of questions were at the heart of my criticism in the original post.