Arbitrary And Capricious Treatment Of Local Agencies - Abusing The Grand Jury For Publicity
At the insistence of Auditor/Controller Joe Harn I agreed to accept a seat on a fire district board that no one else would fill. Unfortunately, Mr. Harn made my four year term very unpleasant.
For whatever reason, he had developed a dislike for the district and its staff. During my term, disagreements with Mr.Harn and his staff became almost a weekly occurrence. The parameters of his antagonism stretched from a $32 pair of shoes that were part of a clothing allowance to an effort to withhold $131,000 of Aid to Fire funds. This effort followed an overreaching misinterpretation, on the auditor’s part, of an internal district contract. This game of one-upmanship, on the auditor’s part, created havoc with our budget and set in motion the termination of two paramedic/firefighters, putting the lives and property of our citizens in jeopardy.
The district became accustomed to late or insufficient pay checks, following never ending inquiries and holdups while contracts, that in fact were none of the auditors business, were picked over. Inquiries and clarification of out-of-the-blue changes in the auditors policies and procedures, which applied only to our district, were often answered with, “if you don’t like it, do it yourself” or “ask Joe”.
All this foolishness allowed the auditor’s office to shirk some of the services they were required to provide us, not to mention our increased cost to do business with each other. This was, and is, an unnecessary drain of taxpayer’s funds and services.
Mr. Harn saw to it that many of his vindictive issues became fodder for the press and television news requiring many of our board and staff members having to appear multiple times before the Grand Jury. Eventually all these issues were resolved and everyone was paid. This points out that all this unprofessionalism on the auditor’s part was nothing more than ongoing harassment of our district and its staff.
Now I watch the ongoing harassment from Mr. Harn creep into other areas of the county. I could describe in more detail many more antics produced by Mr. Harn, however, this would require innumerable pages. Suffice to say that when you consider that the auditor, while filling the role of treasurer for our fire districts, is required to work under the direction of these district boards, I believe that Mr. Harn has neither the temperament nor the aptitude to maintain this Auditor/Controller position.
We have seen, on the federal level, the use of the IRS to run audit’s on those who do not toe the sitting party line. That having been said, could it be that the harassment and nitpicking, emanating from the auditor’s office, is also being applied to those who have not fallen in line with whatever agenda is on the front burner. It is not required that the auditor, whose legal staff is provided by we the taxpayers, be victorious in his accusations, only that the target suffers a monetary setback and a loss of respect among the citizens.
Mr. Harn’s costly effort to discredit those involved with our “first responders” is a delusion masquerading as a taxpayer’s crusader, when in fact Mr. Harn’s $250,000 income for creating tumult and mistrust amongst our citizens is a taxpayer’s worst nightmare.
Director, Garden Valley Fire Protection District (Ret.)