Upset about expense accounts?

I don’t really have the time or energy to get worked up about this right now, but I’m sure plenty of other people will. If you don’t like the idea of City officials using your dime to have dinner, travel, or buy (gasp!) flowers, you’ll have plenty of fun reading the Grand Jury’s report on City credit card use (PDF!). Enjoy! (You’ll want pages 16-32.)

Also of note. The Grand Jury helpfully suggests we increase our police force to 1200 sworn officers, saying we “must immediately find the money.” Thanks, guys!

5 thoughts on “Upset about expense accounts?

  1. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    As a recovering accountant, I found this report absolutely entertaining. Thanks for sharing! So where is Ms. Ruby and what has the City Administrator been doing all these years – and even Robert Bobb before that? Is no one in accounting at the helm?

    I found it even more interesting because of an incident with my local NCPC getting reimbursement for postage & printing to do the required notification of the NCPC being formed and the meeting to formalize it. I did the graphics & design at my own cost, along with other minor expenses (mailing list creation, getting it printed and coordinating with a mailing house) and charged the neighborhood association $956 (printing & mailing), of which the max $600 was to be reimbursed by the City. It took 15 months to get the $600 reimbursed – and the documentation supporting it was complete. (I used to be in fraud audits as well.) I went through a mailing house because I could print & send 2156 pieces at $0.44 each vs the city spending $0.41 for each on postage and then adding the cost of printing the 2500 pieces. I hated to see them waste money. (I’m anal that way.)

    In other companies, I have created expense reimbursement policies. I find it hard to understand how such a big entity as the City of Oakland can have what seems to me as such poor credit card policies in particular. It does explain where some money is being wasted. Personal charges should not be allowed under any circumstances and that in itself should be grounds for termination.

    As for the 1200 officers, uh, yeah, the City will get right on that… just as soon as it finds enough to make even the 803 number. It’s sooooo easy, you know! Certainly the monies lost in eronious credit card charges are not going to pay but for MAYBE one new cop. Where should the City get the rest of the funds?

  2. Surfways

    I know I am repeating here, but I really hope people take Ignacio seriously on the audit of current expenditures and see if there is a way to get money for more police officers without another tax for property owners.

  3. Mercedes Corbell

    Fill me in-what triggered the grand jury project here? (Glad it happened- don’t get me wrong!).
    It will be interesting to see what some of the cling on council people will have to say about their lack of response to these issues upstream. And let me name names: Quan, who is on the budget committee I believe, should have been on this issue years ago. Yes to Ignacio’s proposals- which by the way he’s touted since at least his run for mayor- not simply a this week item.

  4. PaulineZ

    Thank you V Smoothe. Keep up our education. I for one need to become informed on how the city spends money in order to argue back when they want to increase our property taxes.

    Can Sanjiv Handa’s reporting be taken as accurate? In June my neighborhood received The Oakland Digest for June. Regarding how our city is spending money, he reports: In June 2004, the City had just seven employees who earned more than $200,000 a year and several only because they cashed in accumulated leave. By December 2007, there were 73 earning more than $200,000 with about two dozen missing the cutoff by a few thousand dollars. Sanjiv predicts that more than 165 employees are likely to earn $200,000 this year.

    Sanjiv reports that Nancy Nadel has repeatedly called for a cut in top management salaries.
    He also reports the City $100,000 salary club now has 606 members, not counting overtime. In 2004 there were 247 employees in this club. In 2008, there are 606. When other compensation is added to salary numbers — overtime, car allowances, bonuses, other, the 606 member number becomes 1,200 which is 28 percent of all full time employees.

    Now I understand why Jean Quan has been striving to get the LLAD increased and why the council keeps saying “there is no money”. The Council and city staff are living it up.

  5. Oh Pleeze

    Thank you V! The pdf is absolutely great. If it were fictional, it’d be hilarious. My absolute favorite item on the gotcha list (pg 29):

    $157.70 | Ten copies of the book “Freakonomics,” a book about the hidden cost of things.

    The Grand Jury report almost looks like a validation of Prof. Levitt’s assertion that experts pursue private agendas by using their informational (or disinformational) advantages.