Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 175
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for January 23, 2003

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

When will folks who volunteer to sit on the Boards of various local quasi-governmental or non-profit organizations realize that they have a responsibility to review the books? Another organization, this time CASA, has fallen onto hard times. Employees had access to organization accounts via ATM machines and charged personal items to the organization, supposedly in lieu of mileage. Withholding taxes might not have been paid. It appears the CASA board didnít exercise its oversight/surveillance responsibilities properly.

Just a couple of months ago, a non-profit day care center that had to shut down because it was broke. It appears that the center had not been collecting delinquent accounts. The organization's board of directors claimed that they weren't aware of the extent of the problem because paid staff didn't bring it to their attention. It appears that this board didn't dig until the problem became critical.

Before I started writing these letters, we saw the Survival organization almost fail because it hadn't paid its payroll taxes. It took a major effort to get it straightened out and on the right track. I don't believe this Board was subject to the Sunshine Law.

More recently, we've noted that Main Street was broke; its director built a great resume obtaining certifications at local expense. I am told that Main Street's Board never questioned Warrensburg's need for that level of professional travel and schooling. This Board also operates outside the requirements of the Sunshine Law.

For several years I've critiqued the Tourism Advisory Board on its acquiescence in allowing room-tax money to be used for normal Chamber functions on tangentially related to tourism. This Board is subject to the Sunshine Law, but has managed to avoid the public by providing only the absolute minimum notice.

The Johnson County Board of Services is only now starting to act in accordance with its oversight responsibilities and openly under the Sunshine Law; affiliated organizations such as ISCi and ADD still are pretty much unscrutinized by the public, even though they, too, are subject the Sunshine Law. It will be interesting to see if new appointments to the JCBS affect sway the balance toward effective oversight.

It is quite clear that public boards are expected to promote the public interest through detailed oversight and open activities. We, the taxpayers and/or donors, expect that those who volunteer to serve on such boards will ensure that legal obligations are met and that expenditures are scrutinized for propriety and necessity. Furthermore, we expect board members to ensure that adequate financial controls are in place and enforced.

My advice to those who are or might become members of one of these boards? If you're not going to do the job, don't accept the position!

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