One week AFTER the May 1 recall election, the city of Oxnard finally revealed to the public the financial audit results that they’d been hiding since March.
We had noticed that the report was running a couple of months late. With a recall election threatening to remove four of the council members, they certainly didn’t want any negative news to get out.
When the draft agenda for April 24 (one week before election day) was posted to the city’s website, it said the audit would be presented then -- but that was pulled from the final agenda, and the public didn’t actually see it until May 8 (a week after the election) instead. So what were they hiding?
Having three or four findings in an audit is considered to be a bad result. Oxnard’s 2016-2017 audit had 19 findings. Over the past 3 years the city has had 135 findings, which the auditors call “unprecedented”.
With the exception of the City Treasurer’s office (where newly-elected Phil Molina cleaned up his predecessor’s mess very quickly), there has been relatively little progress on remedying the backlog of findings from the prior 2 audits.
The State Controller’s Office is monitoring the situation due to the magnitude of the problem. During the May 8 council meeting, the outside auditors got pretty rough with the council members on the continuing management failures. They said the State Controller’s Office is “not impressed” with what they see in Oxnard.
Speaking of the State Controller’s Office, notice on slide 3 of this May 8 presentation to the city council that the audit had been completed and sent to the state back in March. Yet, it was hidden from the public for almost 6 weeks, which is not the normal release timeline.
Mayor Flynn had spent months telling voters that now our finances are rainbows and unicorns, and that “Today the city has the first balanced budget and clean audit in decades!” Flynn kept saying this in public forums even after a judge found by “clear and convincing evidence” that both claims were false and ordered Flynn to remove them from his candidate statement in the voter guide.
Rather than actually fix the city’s problems, Oxnard’s city council hides them from the public and lies to us about it. That is unacceptable. And that’s just one more reason to seek new leadership at City Hall.