February 16, 2017
In case you missed it last night, I-Team investigator, Randy Travis, did a segment on Greg Williams—CHA Executive Director and the theft of almost $62,000 according to a forensic audit. Williams said he knew nothing about the theft until September when the woman working with him resigned. The problem is HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN if he was doing his job.
From the TV story last night, it appears there were 2 people in the CHA, Greg Williams and Erica Morris. For some reason Williams allowed Ms. Morris to use his signature stamp (proof that signature stamps and autopens can be very dangerous). One has to wonder exactly what Williams did day to day. It appears he turned over all duties to Ms. Morris. The $62,000 figure was missing funds from January 2013 to present. “We believe there is a high probability that misappropriations also occurred prior to January, 2013,” reported auditors Yeager & Boyd. There is no telling how much money was really stolen.
A state government supervisor told the FOX 5 I-Team she alerted executive director Williams in May when one of her employees witnessed Morris misusing those gift cards. Williams contends he did nothing wrong; the problem is he did nothing at all!
The audit began after Newton County resident Barry McIntosh filed an Open Records Request inquiring how the Authority was spending federal tax dollars. However, Mr. McIntosh had his request delayed, and Randy Travis said the Fox5 request was also delayed.
There is a huge problem with a lack of enforcement by the Attorney General’s office in open records and open meetings violations; just ask people all over this State that report open records violations with the Attorney General’s office.
There is no doubt that when Mr. McIntosh finally received his open records request, and pursued what he found, the theft of funds was uncovered and the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development opened an investigation.
Randy Travis says, “It turns out it can take just one curious person to keep government honest.” And that is true, IF they can put up with the harassment and delays in getting the records, IF they can pay for the charges that are assessed, IF they can endure the never-ending slights to their reputation, and If they can get someone to listen to them and look into the problems.
It is our opinion that the State Legislature needs to quit deeming more things exempt from open records and instead allow more to be accessed through open records—including State Legislature dealings which are now exempt. They also need to put some teeth into the law when open records are denied and delayed.
Here is a link to the story online; however the segment on TV last night at 10:00PM had many more details and an interview with Williams. It has not been posted by Fox 5 at this time.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.