Courtney Ruby is a big disappointment

Okay, I lied. I apparently can’t avoid posting here. I don’t have time for real blogging right now, but if my readers are hungry for some City coverage, I suggest you head over to Novometro and read my story for today about the City Auditor.

So when Ruby’s first audit came out last November, I was irritated with the way the media and the public reacted. Obviously, all questionable financial transactions should be examined and we should do everything we can to ensure we’re using taxpayer money properly. But the insane amount of praise heaped on Ruby and outcry over “corruption” in the City in response to her hiring an outside firm to identify $3 million in improper payments over a three year period out of a $598 million annual payroll seemed really ludicrous to me at the time, and even more so now that a follow-up report from the City’s legislative analyst shows her numbers were totally wrong.

You know, Courtney Ruby made all sorts of big promises when she was running for office about how she was going to restore integrity to the Auditor’s office and fight for transparency and fiscal integrity. I totally bought it. I don’t know if was all her fancy endorsements, or wanting to support a fellow Texan, or her promises of reform, or her impressive resume, or the fact that she had been on the budget advisory committee, or what, but I was so excited to cast my vote for her in both June and November of 2006. When Roland Smith approached me at forum asking for my vote, I actually laughed at him. I feel like such an idiot now. I wish I’d voted for Michael Kilian in the primary, but for the run-off, I think maybe I would have been better off voting for Smith. I mean, it certainly sounded like he was a creep, but at least he actually did some auditing, even after the City had to take away all his staff.

What has Ruby done? Nothing! She has not delivered even one staff audit in 16 months! She has not reviewed large expenditures as required by the City Charter. She is not present and not productive. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted a vote this much. I guess this is how people who voted for Dellums must feel now. Sigh.

10 thoughts on “Courtney Ruby is a big disappointment

  1. Valerie Lopez

    The real question is WHAT HAS SHE DONE TO CHANGE IT? Nothing. She is going around asking our people to vote for her because she loves Oakland??? We need someone running that department that not only points out the problem, but fights to get it fixed. We need solutions.

  2. Valerie

    HER WEBSITE STATES SHE WILL:

    …scrutinize the Oakland Police Department’s finances to ensure that our streets are safer. She will also examine Oakland’s disaster preparedness to ensure that services are available to us when we need them most. 4 years NO RESULTS?

    …make easiest city in America to do business. This is why Courtney will work to reform the outdated business processes that are driving away investment. Long lines, outdated systems, and confusing permit processes are a tax on Oakland’s businesses that they cannot afford. 4 years NO RESULTS?

    …revisit its parking policies. Courtney will analyze Oakland’s parking department to ensure tickets are being issued reasonably and fairly. 4 years NO RESULTS?

    We have no time for her to continue playing with our tax money. After all we are footing the bill for that department. We MUST vote for someone who can bring RESULTS.

  3. Naomi Schiff

    Funny. I had some respect for Roland Smith, though toward the end his bad hearing, his cantankerousness, and his general grumpiness took its toll and the city council started beating up on him and reducing his staff. It may be that it was no fun working with him. But it may be that it is a real asset for an auditor to be more a curmudgeon than a charmer.

  4. ralph

    Actually, you want a charmer. At the end of the day, the auditor is someone who can help you. Edgerly appeared to view the relationship as adversarial, which it is not. The auditor’s objective is not to identify where one is at fault. Rather, it is to identify areas where improvements can be made. The auditor can also be a partner by identify the types of improvement required.

    More often than not it helps to speak with sugar than **** with vinegar.

  5. Valerie

    ralph, We need someone who cares less about making friends. We the people can’t afford that luxury. Oakland is broke because Ruby is failing as an Auditor. Her lack of experience has showed us she CANNOT do the job. We need someone with experience, someone who will follow true. Michel kilian has the experience we need. Look what Charm has gotten us so far.

  6. ralph

    I am not going to continue with these discussions. Oakland is not broke because Ruby has not lived up to your expectations of an auditor. There are a number of factors that have contributed to Oakland’s current situation. I do not doubt that there may have been problems in implememtation as Ms Nadel noted in a letter posted on AOC’s site. But I strongly suggest you do some research in the roles and responsibilities of the City Auditor, City Council and Management as it relates to audits and corective actions.

  7. Naomi Schiff

    On the whole, I agree with you, Ralph. I think spending a lot of time auditing the auditor is not our fastest route to solvency. But I also think it’s fine to question the auditor’s office about its effectiveness. But it should be a civil, fact-based interaction, of course.

  8. ralph

    Naomi,
    There are a few steps which I think will be in the best interest of the city and residents of Oakland. I am in the reviewing the city charter, audit standards, other charters, and comments made here to develop a document that I can send either to council for them to make changes or to the people as a charter amendment. Off the top of my head, before council, the auditor should make explicit their annual audit and retest plan. Agency Heads responsible for corrective actions need to present to council their implementation plans to cure the problem. These issues need to be accessible to the public via a table on the City Auditor’s page. Update progress and completion as appropriate.

  9. Naomi Schiff

    You might not need a charter amendment to do this. It might be worth considering discussing this with some of the League of Women Voters good govt people, who have thought about the transparency issues some.