What happened with the Hilton should concern Bill Foster and City Council

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If someone beat you out of $160,000, wouldn’t you want to know what happened? Let’s say a long time had passed, you got some of the money back but the audits and investigations had been, shall we say, cursory. Wouldn’t you still really like to know what happened?

What if the guy with the foggy memory who perpetrated this loss was still on the job and had never been held accountable? Wouldn’t that bother you?

So why is it the Foster administration and City Council can’t seem to come to grips with the whole Hilton impact fee issue? Why does the City Council seem to be stonewalling.

Ok, ok, it did not happen on Foster’s watch, but it did happen while some of the current Council members were sitting behind the dias.

If I were the Mayor, I could not sleep at night knowing the plans examiner with the conveniently short memory was still punching tickets. Some leadership here! Like most controversies Foster would rather this one would just go away. Stall long enough and it will go away.

Call it the Ostrich Theory of Management.

The March 29 City Council discussion of the issue was like a preview for the new Three Stooges movie. Did we vote for the audit? What did we vote?

In what is almost typical of these events, the Council voted to not go forward with the external audit. The corner of the rug is lifted and this whole mess is about to be swept under it.

What I know after 28 years in the organization is when there is this much grandstanding and tap dancing on an issue, there is usually more there than meets the eye.

The internal audit is unlikely to turn up any serious issues, look for words like poor procedures, lack of supervision, poor policies and the eternal “we will do better”.  The sample of 100 from a population of over 3,000 is about 3%  likely not statistically significant, and why limit it to transportation impact fees. Seems to me short memory is not item specific.

Steve Kornell is trying to lead on this issue but he is getting little support. Bill Dudley and Jim Kennedy were concerned about the cost. They always worry about the cost of the things they don’t want to do.

All of this should make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the $100,000 the City is still out. For reference that’s about the salary for one new police officer.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.