Posts Tagged ‘Sheila Ernzen’

There is a saying, and I don’t know who it is originally attributed to, but it is said we get the government we deserve, not necessarily the one we want. I really wish I had more time to contribute to letting you know the insanity that often goes on down at the Clay County Courthouse.

I received this note from Sheila Ernzen the other day. She promises to share more in the coming days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As county auditor, I am furious on behalf of Clay County employees and citizens about the irresponsibility and lack of professionalism of their county government.

I believe that I have as much of an obligation to inform the voters of who is responsible for the dysfunctional state of their county government as I do to compromise and work with other County officials and employees to serve the citizens of this county within the bounds of law. The last week and a half has been a classic example of the lack of professionalism, lack of communication and unwillingness to compromise that currently plagues our county courthouse.

The assistant county counselor, Matt Thompson [editor’s note: this is T.K. Thompson’s son, and from what I have been told he’s a good buddy of my pal “Amorous” Vic Hurlbert], put all county employees in jeopardy of not being paid this Friday due to his behavior. I am not sure if he was following the direction of the Clay County Commission as a whole or a single commissioner. I am certain that he serves at the pleasure of the county commission and his actions reflect on them as a whole.

On Monday of last week, March 9, I was told by the HR director that I would not be given copies of documents that I requested to audit the county’s upcoming payroll. Missouri law allows the county auditor to have access to all books, county records, or papers kept by any county officer. I appealed to the county administrator by email and copied the commission.

On Tuesday, March 10, I was told by Matt Thompson that I could not have copies of the requested documents due to concerns of employee privacy. I responded, in the spirit of compromise, as I should, with other ideas of how I could receive the information I needed to document my approval that the changes in the payroll system were authorized and correct.

I was ignored until Saturday, March 15th, when I again was told no. Again, I offered additional ideas as to how a compromise could be reached so that payroll would not be affected. I was ignored again until Tuesday afternoon, March 18th.

Amazingly, I was ignored even after talking to Matt Thompson face to face before the County Commission meeting on Monday, March 17th. I expressed my concern about meeting the payroll deadlines to ensure County employees would be paid and stated that we needed to find a solution. He assured me that he had not had time to review my email yet (the email sent almost 24 hours earlier), but that he would get with me later that afternoon or Tuesday morning.

Late Tuesday afternoon, I was notified by Mr. Thompson that in the interest of cooperation I would get copies of redacted status change forms from HR, and that if I needed to view the complete form, I could view them in the HR department. I responded by thanking him, told him I would like to try out his solution, and asked that I receive the forms with redacted information as soon as possible so that payroll could be approved to the commission for payment.

I received no response.

This morning (payroll is supposed to be processed before 2:30pm the Wednesday before payday in order for County employees to receive their payroll funds by direct deposit on Friday) my office received no forms. I instructed my office to send HR an email asking about the forms and we received no response.

I called Matt Thompson and asked when I would receive the forms. He had changed his mind about providing the documents with redacted information to me, but he had not told me. I am guessing he would not have told me if I had not called him.

During my phone conversation with Matt Thompson, he seemed angered by the fact that I had sent a copy of the form I was requesting a copy of from the HR department to the Attorney General’s office to ask them if they agreed with the Assistant County Counselor and County Commission that the information was not open to the public under the Missouri Sunshine Law. He also told me I would have to make a Sunshine Request to get copies of the forms, even with redacted information and that he would not provide me the copies to use to audit payroll because he didn’t have to. I was left with the impression that payroll would be processed without my approval.

I called the county and found out that payroll had not been processed yet. As the deadline to submit payroll passed, I received a phone call from one of the other Assistant County Counselors. He worked with me to find a solution that allowed me to get the adequate documentation that I needed to fulfill my duty to the citizens of Clay County and ensure that county employees would be paid on Friday.

Clay County employees and citizens owe a big thank you to Assistant County Counselor Kevin Graham for saving the day after pay day was jeopardized.

I received an email from Clay County Auditor Sheila Ernzen concerning the Clay County budget. Attached was a letter from the current Clay County Commissioners regarding the budget and also attached was her analysis.

Let’s just say that we have two different perceptions of the budget. 

First, the “sunshine and lollipops” letter from the Clay County Commissioners.

And then the bit more harsher statistical analysis from Clay County Auditor Sheila Ernzen.

Maybe the most concerning point from Ms. Ernzen’s analysis.

“This 2013 annual budget includes estimated revenues of $58.8 million and appropriations
for expenditures of $73.3 million. In order to balance the 2013 budget, the County
Commission will use $14.5 million of Clay County’s $19.7 million cash carryover
balance that was available at January 1, 2013. The budget anticipates that the cash
carryover balance at December 31, 2013 will decrease to $5.2 million. If this does occur,
budgetary appropriations will have to be significantly cut the following year or tax
revenue will have to be increased.”

Whatever the case, you be the judge.

Here we are again folks.  In 2010 we had a mid-term election, and on the ballot was Clay County Auditor.  The two people on the ballot in the Republican primary were William Norris, a self-proclaimed CPA and William Jewell grad, and Jay Jones, an actual CPA and William Jewell grad.  Well, William Norris ended up winning the primary in the closest primary in Clay County that year.  We also know, William Norris wasn’t as transparent as he would have liked us to believe.  Come to find out, he was not a registered CPA with Missouri or Kansas (or anywhere for that matter), he was not a William Jewell grad (as a matter of fact, he didn’t have a GPA that was high enough to even graduate), he was never a comptroller of a major corporation, and he ended up being a limo driver in Columbia driving party buses.

Instead of stellar qualifications and voters doing their research, the Republican wave of 2010 swept him into office, beating incumbent Sheila Ernzen (another more qualified person) in the general election.  That didn’t last long, however, as NBC Action News’ Russ Ptacek nailed him on a number of fraudulent items, to include sex charges, past felonies, and falsifying a sworn affidavit.  William Norris ends up resigning, Governor Nixon appoints a replacement, and low and behold, we’re back at it for the Office of Clay County Auditor in 2012. (BTW Norris is scheduled for a jury trial for his criminal infractions that removed him from office on October 9, 2012.)

The Republicans again have a primary.  We have Michael Till, with 16 years of corporate finance accounting experience with Black & Veatch and Natkin Service, a subsidiary of York, Int.  He also has an actual degree in accounting from William Jewell College and an actual MBA from Baker University.  On the other side you have Charles Adams, and this is where it gets interesting.  You see, there is no website on Charles, no campaign literature showing his qualifications, no nothing.  As a matter of fact, Charles retired from being the County Building Inspector the day before filing ended.  He must have missed the county so much that he wanted to run.  Alledgedly Adams has no accounting degree and possibly no degree at all.  Of course, we can’t find out because there is no literature, either.

There’s more to this story.  By law, the Missouri Ethics Commission states that you have to be a dual-filer (that is, with the Missouri Ethics Commission and the Clay County Election Board) for the following committees:

  • Political Action Committee (PACs)
  • Congressional Political Party Committee
  • State Representative
  • State Senator
  • County Clerk
  • Other county office in county with population over 100,000
  • City office in city with population over 100,000
  • Partisan Circuit Court Judge
  • Partisan Associate Circuit Court Judge

Now, some of you may have seen the “Elect Charles Adams for Auditor” signs or his advertisements in various news publications.  Clay County had a population of 221,939 according to the 2010 census.  This means that he has to file a candidate committee with both the State of Missouri and the Clay County Election Board.  As of this writing (July 14, 2012), he has failed to do so.  The only thing that it says on his signs is “Paid for by candidate”.  Well, that still doesn’t explain why he has showed a lack of transparency.  Mike Till has showed us his qualifications, and continues to do so.  We know about Mike’s past and he’s an honest guy.

Now, this is not an indictment on Charles Adams’ character, as a matter of fact, we don’t know him.  However, that is the issue, we don’t know him.  We don’t know his qualifications, where he’s getting his money from, what he’s spending it on, nothing.  We experienced that with William Norris.  We didn’t know his qualifications, where he was getting his support, or what he was doing with his time and money.  We know now, but it was too late when we did.  This time, in 2012, we have an opportunity to right a wrong Republican voters of Clay County.  Will we go with a safe bet that we know about, or will we risk the county budget to a man who may not have any qualifications for it?  We got it wrong in 2010, let’s make in right in 2012.

I’m just curious, but do any of you ever get tired of this silliness?