2018-02-01 / Opinion

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Audit Alterations Raises Questions

To the Editor:

The recent independent audit submitted to the Portsmouth Town Council was said to be transparent and clean. However, there were actually two audits released. The first submission on the website claimed to be the official audit by the town administrator. Then, without any indication, a modified version replaced it and has now become a draft without any notification or stamped as such.

This is the first time I can find that our town audit has been changed after submission.

The auditor works for the council, not the people being audited at the town hall. The fact that those changes were made at the request of the people being audited seems to invalidate this audit as independent.

When pressed, the auditor admitted there was indeed a deficit in the budget. The deficit was changed to a surplus by bringing in $600,000 from the bonds that were sold last year. That bond money was not part of the original budget.

It was also brought up that such a movement of funds into the budget can only be done by the council, but the council did not have prior knowledge of that transfer.

Taking money from the fund balance to cover the deficit and declaring a surplus appears to be an unethical practice by the town administrator. While acknowledging the protocols of the town charter and state law, it appeared to ignore them. There was a deficit about which the town council nor state were properly notified.

When Larry Fitzmorris of the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens noted the state law requiring the reporting of a deficit and requested a legal opinion from the town's solicitor, Mr. Gavin flared up, as did council member Linda Ujifusa, saying we should just take what was presented without question and tried to close the discussion. That folly may be her position and opinion, but it should never be ours, and definitely not in light of the facts that were brought out in this audit.

Council President Keith Hamilton stepped in to get us back on topic. He also acknowledges the protocols are now documented in writing and it won't happen again. The auditor summarized by stating that last year's auditor handled the situation wrong. Parts of this audit are wrong as well.

If the previous audit is wrong, fix it; do not compound the mistake by altering this one.

Questions about this audit remain unanswered, while the transparency and the corrective measures are unclear. There should be complete transparency and understanding of what is being done with taxpayers' money and end the use of what is called “accounting tricks.”

We thank our councilors for their efforts in researching the budget and audit to expose these facts that were hidden in the audit.

Debra Faber-Cardoza
Portsmouth

Armory Sale Needs More Discussion

To the Editor:

As there have been some discussions concerning the finances relating to the Armory property, the information here may be of some interest.

During the latter part of 2012, the City published a solicitation for bids to rent the Armory building on Thames Street. At that time three proposals were received by the City and we were fortunate to have been the highest bidder for the property. We were able to assume the business operation that has been in place since 1995 and we have enjoyed two extensions of the lease with the City allowing us to continue our business operation. During our tenure as stewards of the Armory we have markedly increased the number of dealers, consignees and employees, providing jobs and income for a great number of families.

We have always met our obligations with the City on a timely basis and during the renewals of our lease, the City has never requested an increase in rent. We also were not contacted to discuss the continuation of our tenancy prior to the Mayor’s solicitation of the Sailing Hall of Fame to take over the Armory.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss a long term tenancy of the property and are willing to negotiate a rental increase that would assist in offsetting the losses incurred by the City through its operation of the Maritime Center and Ann Street Pier, which for the year 2016 were in excess of $66,000.

Armory Antiques &
Marketplace, Inc.
Cynthia Lee, Co-Owner

Newporters Attend Pro Life March in Washington

To the Editor:

Abortion is a concern in Newport. People from Newport joined the March for Life on Jan 19. This year was the 45th Pro-Life March in Washington, D.C. to end abortion. President Trump and Vice President, Mike Pence gave support and hope to the young pro-life marchers. St. Gabriel's call, located in Newport provides support to women who are unexpectedly pregnant. Call 278-4508 or dioceseofprovidence.org/support during-pregnancy. There is also a local family in Newport who host young women who don't have a safe place to live during their pregnancy. Contact littleflowerhome.org.

Abortion become legal through the Supreme Court case Roe v Wade. Norma McCorvey was the woman known as Roe, at the center of the case that legalized abortion in all 50 states in 1973. Very few people know that "Roe" never had an abortion. She gave her baby up for adoption.

In 1992, McCorvey was involved with abortion clinics. In light of the scientific discovery that the fetus feels pain at the very early stages of development, she says she was emotionally troubled by her conscience because she knew abortion was evil. Working at the abortion clinic led her to understand that abortion is a violent act which kills human beings and destroys the peace of the mother. Norma McCorvey dedicated the rest of her life to pro life issues by publicly speaking out against abortion. She wanted to convince the United States and the world that abortion is wrong.

On Feb. 20, 2017 Norma McCorvey died knowing her case Roe v. Wade changed the U.S. and the family unit by legalizing abortion. Before she died, she accepted the Christian faith and was baptized. She was frequently seen wearing a t-shirt with the words "100% Pro Life without Exceptions". Norma McCorvey's life is powerfully summarized in her book, “Won by Love.” endroe.org/roebio.aspx

Elizabeth Watts
Newport

Taxpayers Beware

To the Editor:

Newport This Week’s (NTW) Jan. 25 editorial reported a new spirit of cooperation between the town and school department in Middletown to consolidate repairs, effect change and save money. That’s different from a few years ago when there was an all-time low and a feeling of mutual distrust after the schools purchased about $1 million in technology.

NTW goes on to say that schools were cleared of breaking any laws or protocols for that purchase. That NTW statement does not agree with findings of the Middletown Town Council’s independent investigation of that technology purchase. The investigator’s November 2015 report to the council stated: “The lack of transparency of the CDI (CDI Computer Dealers, Inc) purchase to the Town Administrator and the taxpayers proved to be the most concerning aspect of this investigation. The lack of transparency was, however, magnified by the MSD's (Middletown School Department) non-compliance with the bidding requirements and its failure to comply with state law governing the TIPS (The Interlocal Purchasing System) collaborative purchasing agreement. Had any of these requirements been completely followed, the CDI purchase would have been more public in nature.”

Middletown School Department failed to comply with state law, did not comply with bidding requirements, and was not forthright in its disclosure of the technology transaction. This does not clear the school’s leaders of breaking any laws or protocols, as NTW says.

The Middletown Town Council and taxpayers must beware of this “new spirit of cooperation” because today’s Middletown School leaders are the same people that gave us the $1M technology mess.

Paul E. Mankofsky
Middletown

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