BOTH SOUGHT-AFTER AUDITORS’ JOBS OPEN; POSTURING UNDERWAY

One of the drawbacks (and there are others) of the state implementing an early retirement incentive program (ERIP) is that the state loses some talented and experienced professionals. Such is the case with the State of Connecticut Auditors of Public Accounts, commonly known as the State Auditors. Both auditors, Kevin Johnston and Robert Jaekle, have taken the ERIP opportunity, and are getting out. The auditors’ positions are very much sought-after state jobs; they’ll never be eliminated in a tough budget year, they’re pretty much autonomous, history shows those that those who get the jobs stay in them a very long time, and they have very little to no oversight. In fact, it’s their job to provide the oversight and accountability.

The auditors’ website welcoming page says, “It is our job to serve the public interest regarding financial and compliance matters related to the State of Connecticut. As Connecticut’s State Auditors, we provide independent, unbiased and objective opinions and recommendations on the operations of the State government and the State’s effectiveness in safeguarding it’s [sic] assets. We also strive to assist State agencies in achieving sound fiscal management and the efficient use of State resources.”

What the website doesn’t tell you is that when an auditor’s position opens, there is a political scramble to fill it for the reasons listed above. State law prohibits both auditors being from the same political party. The current pairing has Johnston (Democrat) working with Jaekle (Republican). The auditors’ office is technically a part of the legislature so the General Assembly, as a whole, makes the appointments.

There is any number of folks who would jump at the chance to be a state auditor for the reasons listed above. And being a political animal, the appointment process brings political posturing. The rumor mill has spit out some familiar names of current legislators who would like their party’s appointment including one of the current leaders in the General Assembly.

*

After yesterday’s entry on the departure of UConn President Michael Hogan, many readers didn’t understand the reference to the life-size, cardboard cut-outs of Hogan. UConn paid more than $3,000 for the cut-outs that were placed around campus. At the time the story appeared in the newspaper, The Shad thought it was a joke or at least a really good opportunity for students to break out the Sharpies and have at it.

One Hanging Shad reader wondered why nothing was said by legislators about this ridiculous expenditure of money at a time when budgets are being slashed and tuition is increasing. In the scheme of things, $3,000 is not a lot of money compared to the entire budget. But it’s the symbolism that has people upset. Either UConn officials are sitting around trying to think of stupid ways to spend money or Hogan was such an egomaniac that he wanted his own likeness all over campus at all times.

There never been a satisfactory answer as to what was to be accomplished with the cut-outs or who originally came up with the idea. Taxpayers deserve to know when such a moronic move is costing them money.

*

A headline in this morning’s Hartford Courant blares, “Mayor Cursed at Worker.” The story was about the latest testimony in the corruption trial of Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez. The headline may draw a laugh from anyone who has worked with politicians. Most office holders swear and they swear all the time. Granted, it’s usually not directed at someone but it’s certainly not news that pols drop the f-bomb often.

The Shad is reminded of one particular closed-door meeting in which one politician (in evaluating how things stood on the budget at the time) blurted out, “We’re f—ing screwed!” Never to miss a point, one of the more refined, dignified and female legislators in the room turned to the lawmaker next to her and quietly said, “I HATE that word!” then whispered, “But I think he’s right.”