By Robert Haugh
Tonight, the City will release findings from the latest audit of its Tourism Improvement District (TID) funds. It’s not good.
It’s another example of mismanagement by the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce. We’ve reported on how the Chamber lost the Convention Center management contract. An earlier audit a few months ago showed mismanagement and malfeasance.
The second audit was just as bad. Here’s what the City says in its press release:
“The audit found similar patterns of fiscal mismanagement, poor accounting practices, absence of proper transparency and public disclosure, and missing invoices for payments made with public funds.”
The Chamber is expected to show up to defend itself. We got a preview of their defense in a letter that they sent the City. It’s really, really long — like someone got paid by the word. After all the arguments, all the Chamber is really saying is that the City audits are wrong.
The City counters in its press release that even the Chamber’s own auditors told them they were mismanaging funds.
This latest audit surfaced evidence of the Chamber’s awareness of its own fiscal mismanagement through previous independent audits that it had commissioned for review of the TID’s financial statements.
For example, the audit found that, in an Oct. 25, 2017 letter to the Chamber regarding its audit of TID financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2017, the certified public accounting firm Johanson & Yau indicated “significant deficiencies” with the Chamber’s TID record storage and retrieval, cash disbursement practices, bank account access by personnel no longer involved with TID, and documentation and maintenance of critical information.
The City will be reviewing management letters from prior fiscal years to understand how long the Chamber was advised by its own independent auditors of its poor fiscal management of public funds that went uncorrected.
Note to Chamber: read your own audit reports before the meeting tonight. You’re going up against the City’s auditors and yours. It’ll feel like being in a cage match against The Undertaker and Mankind. You’re going to feel it the next morning.