WGAN radio news reporting this noontime that OPEGA report found no Fraud at MSHA!!!!!
WGAN, a media entity, offers an opinion. Just what is the value of such an opinion? How about mislead the voting public?
1. The Opega review was limited, NOT all inclusive.
From page 1 of the report:
“OPEGA was tasked with reviewing Maine Housing’s expenditures for sponsorships, donations, and memberships as well as any travel and meal expenses, or other expenses where the nature of the vendor and the amount of the expense may raise questions as to reasonableness or necessity in relation to MaineHousing’s mission and programs. This was not intended to be a comprehensive review of all Maine Housing expenditures, but rather a focused review of the specific expense areas identified as concerning by the GOC.”
2. Opega was looking for ‘reasonableness or necessity’. They were not tasked to search for fraud. If they were not looking for it and therefore did not find it - that is newsworthy? Nice spin WGAN.
3. See page 4 of the report:
“Gift cards for employee bonuses. From 2008 to 2011, Maine Housing distributed $57,250 in Hannaford gift cards to employees as bonuses, recognition gifts or give - always at employee events. Each employee received $200 in gift cards in 2009 in lieu of raises and another $100 per employee was distributed in both 2008 and 2010 to show employee appreciation. OPEGA is not aware of any similar bonuses paid to State agency employees despite there being no salary increases and required furlough days over the last five years. Consequently, although the bonuses may be well deserved, the necessity of these expenses may be questioned.
OK so that makes it OK ?
I am just reporting what I heard on radio I offered no opinion on it!
It speaks so much by itself.
Even though OPEGA was not looking for termites at the MSHA, it can be reported that they didn't find any! Now that's some real news.
I would call it abuse, not fraud. But hey it wasn't their money so lets party.
And the words will still stand and be used. "No Fraud"!
How many times inferences were made comparing Violette and Dale M. ?
Nice deflection though Watcher.
The findings of "no fraud" don't erase the horrendous failings with regard to McCormick's oversight of the inspection process, nor her improper funding of gift cards, massages, parties, and employee bonuses.
Maine is better off without such people in control of the public checkbook.
Naran I do not disagree but ,as reported the issues you just listed were reported as business expenses of the agency! Now I will wait to verify that which might be wise and see just what they said in report.
It always disappointing when results are not what hoped for. Change in practices is the desired result getting there and using the process for other agendas has other implications.
So wages were frozen but they were given gift cards etc in lieu of raises, how clever. Now I know why she was treasurer.
She also gave out $1,000 bonuses, across the board, no matter how long employees had been with the MSHA.
You may think it's OK for Dale to use her company credit card for numerous charges at local restaurants on a regular basis, but I don't. When I find time, I'll compile some examples for you. I don't know what the published report will show, but they claimed to have gone through all her credit card records.
I've looked through them, and the impression they give is one of getting her employer to pay for meals for her and who knows who else at local eateries.
As I see it, taxpayers shouldn't be buying her meals, and she shouldn't be using her business credit card to buy meals for anyone else.
If you knew how OPEGA operates you wouldn't be questioning what they found or didn't. I tried once to get OPEGA interested in skuldugery at the MidCoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. I was told that OPEGA does not investigate anything without an endorsement from one of the members of the Legislature. That is one of the foxes watching the henhouse. This club operates on the basis that neither side can do any wrong and if they do, its because the other side didn't find out how first and doesn't want to upset the applecart should the tables be reversed. The only time anyone will really investigate wrongdoing is if it isn't being done according to the unwritten rules.
Mel you are correct and maybe the post above about OPEGA by pm....... is correct although I say that at risk of being chastised for questioning them which I am not ,he did!
Here is a snip from the WGAN website.
Friday, May 25 2012, 01:08 PM EDT
Oversight panel releases Maine Housing Authority findings
"It's a controversy that cost a state leader her job-- claims that the Maine Housing Authority spent taxpayer money lavishly.
An oversight panel has just announced what it found out about those claims.
Dale McCormick stepped down earlier this year as the head of , Maine housing after pressure from state leaders and republican activists.
They claimed that under her leadership-- Maine housing spent lavishly on things like hotels, magic shows, and karate lessons for its clients.
A state oversight committee says some of that spending might have been unnecessary, but that there are no indications of fraud or inappropriate spending.Oversight panel releases Maine Housing Authority findings"
This statement is found on the OPEGA report page 3
“OPEGA judged substantially all of the $4.3 million sampled Maine Housing expenses to be generally consistent with its mission and primary activities. All the expenses appeared business-related and we found no indications of fraud.”
The $4.3 M sample that was analyzed was from two corporate credit cards (only)....so if you dont look for the clowns, and you dont find the clowns, you simply declare no indications of clowns were found and the public goes merrily on their way....move along, nothing to see here....and that goes for you republican activists too. Nice spin WGAN.
Mmmmm, maybe pmconusa is correct, I apologize for saying that!
Remember the day when the OPEGA was supposed to be a separate function not part of the legislature,seems republicans favored that at one time,I wonder how come they didn't go back to that w/ a majority???
...However if you DO look for some clowns....
The media could, I suppose, have had an article titled….’Opega finds unnecessary spending was practiced by Dale McCormick’…something like that. As noted previously...that is MY tax money being spent and those dollars never got to the end user. See below from page 4 of the Opega report…..
“We did note, however, several expense categories that might be questioned as potentially unnecessary.
These types of expenses are not typical for a State agency or are not incurred with the same frequency we observed at MaineHousing. We expect the MaineHousing Board of Commissioners and management will be reconsidering these expenses in conjunction with implementing the requirements of the recently enacted statute governing quasi-independent State entities. These expense categories are:
Sponsorships and organizational memberships. Over the five year period under review, MaineHousing spent approximately $127,611 on sponsorships or donations to 32 organizations and about another $330,800 for organizational and individual staff memberships to 41 organizations. The accumulated total overall for these types of expenses raises the question as to whether they are all really necessary, particularly since the Legislature has recently made clear its interest in limiting the use of quasi-governmental agency funds for these purposes.
Out of state conferences. The sample of expenditures OPEGA reviewed included expenses associated with a total of 89 conferences attended by 62 MaineHousing employees over the five year period, many of which were held out of state. The former Director and the Energy Special Projects Coordinator attended out of state conferences fairly frequently and MaineHousing sent contingents of employees to several of them. While there are benefits MaineHousing receives from having management and staff attend conferences, the apparent frequency of conference attendance in general raises the question of whether it is necessary to attend them all.
Food and refreshments for employees. MaineHousing has frequently provided food or refreshments for employee gatherings. Some gatherings were associated with specific business meetings and trainings, while others were for the purpose of recognizing or rewarding employees. A number of gatherings were offsite, thus also incurring a room charge. MaineHousing also pays for the coffee and creamer that is available to employees in
Nearly all dollar amounts for individual expenditures were deemed reasonable when detailed information about the expense was considered. Some expense categories, however, might be questioned as potentially unnecessary.
MaineHousing’s office building. While such expenses are not uncommon for an organization that values and appreciates its employees, these types of benefits are typically not provided for employees of State agencies in the same frequency that we observed at MaineHousing. MaineHousing explained they have provided these benefits in the past in order to offset the fact that salaries paid to MaineHousing employees are typically intentionally set below market.
Gift cards for employee bonuses.
From 2008 to 2011, MaineHousing distributed $57,250 in Hannaford gift cards to employees as bonuses, recognition gifts or give-aways at employee events. Each employee received $200 in gift cards in 2009 in lieu of raises and another $100 per employee was distributed in both 2008 and 2010 to show employee appreciation. OPEGA is not aware of any similar bonuses paid to State agency employees despite there being no salary increases and required furlough days over the last five years. Consequently, although the bonuses may be well deserved, the necessity of these expenses may be questioned.
Business meals for MaineHousing management.
OPEGA’s sample of expenses included at least $9,625 spent over the five year period on business meals for staff not in travel status. Outside parties were sometimes present at the meetings associated with the meals, but other meals were associated with meetings attended only by MaineHousing employees, primarily members of upper management. State agencies do not typically pay for business meals unless employees are in travel status, regardless of whether official business was conducted over the meal. Business meals among upper management at MaineHousing, however, appear to have been fairly common and we question whether they were truly necessary to conduct the Authority’s business, particularly when no outside parties were in attendance.”
Fortunately this situation has been corrected w/ changes to board etc. but he total change has not been accomplished IMHO.
The lessons if there is going to be Quasi agencies they should be required to adhere to a set of fiscal policies that outline specifically what can be spent on what and personnel policies that adhere strictly to all state agencies reference pay raises and benefits. The oversite by the boards if necessary of the agency should be very specific and frequent not only by any board but also from an independent entity separate from board.
Will any further changes be made as a result of this? That is an open question. No director of any agency w/ the size of the budget should ever be in office for more than one term IMHO.
While the foolishness did not rise to the culpability level I believe many expected it was unnecessary and a result of failures on both side of the aisle in Augusta.
Knowing it is unlikely to happen I do believe there should not be any Quasi agencies period. That is the road to being a sacred cow w/ in the bureaucracy of government it should not be. That is what MSHA became.
At least now we have a finding that the meat wasn't as prime as many hoped.
Oh well the dems. needed a martyr
Two things, what McCormick did should never have been allowed and the mere fact that she saw nothing wrong with what she did with the publics money speaks volumes of mindset of some public servants.
The upshot: Poliquin will never be a US Senator.
Better nominate someone else.
Islander gets it.
Islander I agree with you.
Mainelion your probably right, good treasurer we need him here , if he can survive .
The federal action is the result of revelations last year of subsidized housing in the Norway area that fell far below minimum sanitation and safety standards.
Federal housing inspectors to begin review
Some initial federal inspections have been completed, and Collins has said they show systemic quality problems and oversight failures by the Maine State Housing Authority, which manages the program.
That is why she should have gone and other staff should go also who failed at their jobs.
That should be a major point at the forefront of any discussion ,but will it be ?
Nothing that OPEGA found or didn't find in its limited review changes the clear picture that the management of MSHA was inept and spent tax money without a thought as to where it came from. It is good she is gone.
John McDonald said on his show this am that OPEGA found that MSHA was "squeaky clean". Yeah sure John. If that makes you feel better.
I guess, technically, they could be squeaky clean while being totally inept. ;-)
It would be like a person saying my mud covered car was squeaky clean after looking only in the glove box.
Watcher - precisely.
Money was spent lavishly when it should have been carefully shepherded to create more affordable housing units for the waiting list of thousands. Instead, housing costs bloated to $300K per unit, due to a boondoggle set of qualifying green and social-agenda "points," none of which included cost-efficiency.
Housing unit inspections paid for with Federal and state money failed at a 98% rate, resulting in squalid living conditions at MSHA units while McCormick treated herself and fellow workers to expensive lunches at B&B's and handed out gift cards and staff bonuses.
Anybody who could say that performance was "squeaky clean" should be sentenced to handing over their own finances to McCormick for her "management."
Did they break any laws?
Just the law of common sense
There should be a law against hosting catered luncheons featuring massages, while one's agency has a 98% failure rate on housing inspections, and one has squandered $6M on bogus carbon credit schemes.
I would definitely support such a law.
Well Naran, LePage has been pushing hard for structural changes. How's that working out?