The county’s Office of Information Technology recently came under the microscope of an independent auditor working for the Board of Supervisors, and lo and behold, now three employees are under investigation for bid-rigging. It’s about time this fiscal black hole in the county budget got some scrutiny, and thanks to the Board of Supervisors and in particular Chairman Corey Stewart, there is finally someone investigating potential fraud and abuse in county government that isn’t under the control of County Executive Craig Gerhardt.
Chairman Stewart was a key player in getting this independent auditor position created and filled, and fending off Gerhardt’s furious attempts to have the auditor answer to him rather than answer directly to the Board of Supervisors. In keeping this auditor independent of Gerhardt’s empire-building, he has produced two major breakthroughs in just a few months. The first was uncovering the fraud and abuse committed by Gainesville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard Bird who had moved his family into a firehouse and used it as his residence. The second is this discovery of bid-rigging in the Office of Information Technology that may involve the highest levels of leadership in that department. For years Gerhardt has had internal auditors that never seemed to uncover any abuse, and in only a few short months the Board’s independent auditor has broken two major cases.
Craig Gerhardt should be receiving some pointed questions from our elected officials and county residents about why he so much wanted to make this auditor report to him just as the auditors the county who hadn’t gotten anything done for so many years. Now that the shround has been breached that has covered how county staff does business, it’s turning out that some of the people who reported to Gerhardt were involved in corruption that may have cost county taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and gone on for years. It’s very unlikely that Gerhardt was aware of any of this, but the way he’s run county government as a personal fiefdom filled with loyalists absolutely is one cause for not only the corruption and abuse we see here, but such things as staff covering up allegations of sexual harassment in order to protect senior county staffers.
Kudos to the Board of Supervisors and Corey Stewart for their decision to hire an independent auditor and the guts to stand up to Craig Gerhardt when he tried to sabotage it.
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