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Audit Bill Fail

The recently approved charter amendment is ineffective and inefficient by design

Bill 12-053, the recently approved charter amendment (“City Council Approves Neutered Audit Bill,” Mobtown Beat, Aug. 15) that will require audits of 13 major city agencies at least once every four years that will go before voters in November is ineffective and inefficient by design.

Reporter Edward Ericson Jr. rightly quoted my assessment of the bill as “weak.” This conclusion is based on over three months’ study of internal auditing policies and practices among the 26 largest cities in the U.S. and review of professional auditing standards and recommendations.

This bill is worse than weak. It does not reflect evidence-based policymaking and disregards standard internal auditing policies, procedures, practices and professional recommendations. It also introduces further waste and inefficiency, given that compared with other large cities the Department of Audits already is amongst the country’s most highly staffed and funded.

Regrettably the current bill fails to address the key underlying issue that got us to our derelict state of internal auditing in the first place; ensuring the City Auditor’s office and the auditing function are free from all potential impairments to independence such as political interference or influence, as required by Government Auditing Standards and the Baltimore City Charter. Absent any provision to enhance and expand the City Auditor’s autonomy—such as the establishment of an independent audit committee, a formal annual audit plan, and a change in the organizational structure that currently requires the City Auditor to be appointed by, report to, and potentially be dismissed by the City Comptroller—this watch-dog day of August has collapsed in the heat.

Mary Alice Ernish

Baltimore

Of Love & Bad Reviews

Mary K. Zajac’s review of Of Love and Regret (“Unrequited Love,” Free Range, Aug. 15) told me more about the City Paper than it did about the restaurant. I learned that the writer’s narrative (such as Zajac’s online dating metaphor) and the restaurant’s aesthetics (like the “de rigueur” exposed brick and volume of the music) are more important to the CP than the quality of ingredients used in the foods (the hormone-free beef) or the many original cocktails and in-house infusions. Most alarmingly, I learned that the CP passes judgement on a restaurant after only one meal, meaning that CP reviews are simply a record of first impressions rather than thorough—and fair—commentary. Here’s some advice for Mary: next time, sit at the bar and spend some time talking with head bartender Ryan Travers. He’ll help you feel less intimidated by OLAR’s extensive beer menu.

Stacy Spaulding

Baltimore

Silence Not Golden

I presume an editor, looking for the ironic, selected the title for John G. Bailey’s letter, “Peacenik Wars Go On,” (Mail, Aug. 8). Actually, though, nothing in any of the recent letters could be equated to the madness of war. What has been taking place in the City Paper is an important and necessary dialogue among progressive thinkers. In this empire, the deck is stacked against progressive voices and ideas, and sometimes that frustrates people, as income inequality, wars, climate chaos and other forms of injustice abound.

I am someone who wants society to change for the better, and I try to be effective. But recognizing the height of the walls we must climb over, I witness and try to speak truth to power. And I have this strong belief that if only the masses would get into the streets, we could effect positive social change. But I and most other progressives have trouble getting the masses out of the malls.

In John Bailey’s rant, he disparages David Eberhardt’s suggestion: “Action through ANSWER is a waste of time. A bunch of peace-niks making noise, doing nothing but deluding themselves. I seriously wonder if ANSWER was organized as a clandestine plot to funnel dissent into useless venting. In all its noise and protestations, I sense a lack of depth present in genuine movements of change.”

He doesn’t define “genuine movements of change,” so I can only guess what organizations might be real. To ANSWER’s credit, though, it challenged Karl Rove when he spoke at Goucher and Gen. Stanley McChrystal at the Meyerhoff. I believe both individuals should be charged with war crimes, and was also at both sites speaking out, and “doing nothing but deluding” myself. Those of us who took part can always say we were not silent.

Then John took me to task: “As for the debate between the pacifist and the socialist, Max Obuszewski failed to answer Alan Barysh’s criticism effectively. He mistook a corollary used by Barysh to underline his main argument—that America’s orientation towards war was a systematic problem—and treated as the crux of his criticism. In short, Barysh was saying that the monetary cost of American wars was NOT a limiting factor in their execution, but Obuszewski responded as if he had argued otherwise.”

I am unclear what was meant in the critique. I do not know whose main argument was underlined. Both Alan and I know that war is a way of business for an empire. This is what I wrote in my letter: “He [Alan Barysh] makes the silly argument that I would support the Pentagon if only their weapons were cheaper.” And later I added, “Alan surely knows that I am a pacifist and oppose capitalist or socialist or Trekkie wars.” It is clear that I oppose the warmongering of the Pentagon regardless of the price. But even if the wars cease, money should be taken from the Pentagon budget and returned to places such as Baltimore to repair outdated infrastructure, and keep open rec centers and fire houses.

If John has not enlisted in the silent majority, I encourage him to join us in the streets. While he might think it is useless, I argue it would only get worse without the few voices of dissent.

Max Obuszewski

Baltimore

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