September 4, 2019
Commissioners of Dewey Beach
As you are well aware, the Town's Charter required the Annual Audit to be completed by August 15, 2019, but it has not been released or produced in any form for the citizens' review prior to the Town's election. The current and ongoing failure of meeting the town's Charter's requirements is a serious matter of accountability. I have received multiple inquires on this matter from citizens of Dewey, and wish to bring the following points to your attention, and invite your reply as described in items A and B below which follow.
1. The Town charter obligates the town to produce the Audit report by August 15, 2019, approximately five weeks before the Town's annual election for Commissioner seats. The failure to produce the Audit is ongoing as of today, without any indication of when it will appear.
2. Town voting began in Dewey Beach on September 2, 2019 by mail ballot for the September 21 election, and we are now in the second day of mail ballot voting in the election. All without residents having the Charter required Town Audit (and related Internal Controls Document) in hand to guide their voting decisions. The Audit itself is basic accountability, and denying citizens to read it needs to be held accountable.
3. There are no Audit committee meetings currently scheduled to present the Audit, and it requires seven days notice to hold such a meeting. If a Audit meeting were to be announced tomorrow, that would mean a large portion of voters would cast ballots before the Audit information reaches voters. Those same citizens of Dewey paid for the independent Audit and expect it to be produced as required.
4. At the upcoming Friday September 6 meeting of the Dewey Town Council, there are no agenda items indicating the Commissioners will address the issue of the missing/delayed Audit and Internal Controls documents required by the Town's Charter.(!) Town Council has a obligation to meet the Charter's requirements and inquire why the Audit and Internal Controls documents have not been produced, but appear willing to fail to meet this obligation, and such failure will be ongoing.
5. The recent Candidates forum on August 31, including the majority of Council in attendance and participating as speakers, featured (multiple) claims by the current Council incumbents that the town is "better off" than two years ago. The August 15 required Audit would have have been presented before that Forum, and serve as discussion points. This ongoing withholding of the required town Audit prior to election is also withholding of material information in the election from both Candidates and voters.
6. The Public was informed, at a Town Council meeting, the Audit Committee would receive the Audit on September 1. While that is arguably non-compliant with the Charter, at least it would be before the mail ballots in the election began yesterday September 2.
7. As you also know, the Commissioners have no legal authority to waive the provisions of the Town charter. The Commissioners have not undertaken public efforts to ensure that the Audit is produced by the required deadline, either in the name of the town's citizens rights to be informed by a complaint Audit, or promised transparency or any other reason. Unfortunately the Charter does not allow for such excuses as the accountant's reported claim he is going on vacation August 15, to deny the citizens of Dewey this information.
8. While it may be convenient to place the blame on the Audit Committee, those not part of the Audit Committee, including the Mayor and the Audit Committee Chair met with TGM following its resignation, and failed to disclose such meetings to the Audit Committee or the public until a month after they occurred. This delay was one of many which resulted in the current non-compliance. Those delays of months at a time for the notice and delay, RFP, simply created a self-imposed hardship which contributed to the current non-compliance and being a choice not to hold Audit Committee meetings or proceed on the RFP cannot be used as a excuse to waive the Charter's provisions.
9. No Meeting Minutes of the Audit Committee since November 2018 have been posted (and no Council Minutes since May 2019), and therefore its impossible to evaluate the deliberations of the Audit Committee and how this process has become non-compliant with the Charter. This gives further rise to those who might contend the Audit, done by a new independent Audit firm, is being withheld for political purposes until after the election. Regardless of intent, the effect is clear that what was done does just that - delays the Audit until after the election.
10. Today, Wednesday September 4, is past the opportunity for the public to file FOIA requests to obtain information related to the non-compliance, because whose documents would be due September 24, three days after the election. This would have occurred even if we filed at the earliest date of September 2 upon finding the document late. The citizens of Dewey Beach have now been wrongfully denied the opportunity to file information requests to determine who is accountable for this non-compliance with the Charter's audit requirements, in time for the election.
Finally, if any exception is taken with any of the points above, the opportunity exists to address it as follows:
A. I respectfully request any Commissioner to explain or comment, for publication, on why the required audit is late, DCA will include that statement or fact in our upcoming mailings. For the current candidates for office in this election (Mr Redefer, Mr, Cooke, Mr. Bauer) choose to not comment, on behalf of DCA, I will simply write that the Commissioners are not concerned enough to comment about compliance with the Town Charter's requirement regarding the audit, or similar accurate language.
B. I respectfully request the Audit Committee Liaison, Mr. Moskowitz, in the name of transparency in serving the citizens of Dewey Beach forward all correspondence regarding the Audit, including emails, memos or texts which detail reasons for this delay and allow for accountability.
If this letter makes some Council members uncomfortable, or annoyed to be asked by a regular citizen to be accountable, please resist that urge to attack the messenger asking for answers, as DCA's role is town accountability, in this case compliance with the Town Charter and transparency to the citizens of Dewey.
For the current candidates for office, if you would please reply with any answer to the Audits delay or non-compliance by close of business on Thursday September 5, 2019 I will ensure to have your position included in materials we will be distributing to the appropriate persons and organizations.
Jeffrey C. Smith
Dewey Citizens for Accountability