As the city inspector general’s office devolves into a flurry of lawsuits, claims and counter-claims, someone should be asking: why do we have an inspector general anyway?
The new office was not a result of consolidation and had not been recommended by any other body that has studied local government.
It simply appeared about seven years ago via a bill sponsored in City Council by John Crescembi “to provide increased accountability, integrity and oversight of the entire consolidated government, to assist in promoting economy and efficiency, improving agency operations and deterring and identifying waste, fraud and abuse.”
But the job overlaps with the work of other agencies, such as the city council auditor, and none of its reports have produced any bombshells. It was hoped it would produce whistleblower complaints that would root out corruption but that has not been the case.
The office’s annual report in 2020 claimed $12,455 in unused grant funds identified and one city employee fired, while adding three new employees to the office, for a total of 12.
The current inspector general, Lisa Green, rose through the ranks from investigator to inspector general quickly – the fourth one in seven years –and then hit some kind of roadblock.
She filed suit in Circuit Court Nov. 23, saying her director of investigations had been deficient in his performance and that while she was in a meeting with the chief of labor relations to discuss that problem, the subject sent an email making allegations about Green. The allegations are confidential.
Then, Green was placed on leave – without due process, she alleges in her suit.
Green is asking for the action to be set aside, and for costs and damages.
Some are speculating that the city will quickly settle because the politicians are afraid Green might hold damaging information. Others surmise it is merely a squabble that resulted from romantic entanglements and office intrigue.
For some time there have been murmurs about the office “holding” reports, either for approval by higher ups or just to display power.
But someone needs to be looking at the office itself and determining if it is a necessary government function or merely another make-work boondoggle.
Government sometimes spends more money trying to police itself than the cost of waste and incompetence it ostensibly is trying to prevent.