07 December 2006

Payback is a mother

[Originally posted 06 Dec 06.]

Ok.

So if Auditor General John "Baubles" Noseworthy thinks that everyone he has accused should automatically pay back the amounts he has identified, let's up the ante.

Premier Danny Williams had it right. If due process - something Noseworthy clearly knows nothing about - determines facts and responsibility, then there are legal means to recover any money misappropriated. The Premier correctly said that we should all let the process work.

If Noseworthy turns out to be right, then yeah the people involved should make restitution. All of 'em, including the people on the Internal Economy Commission Noseworthy seems reluctant to discuss for some inexplicable reason.

But only after due process.

On the other hand if it turns out Noseworthy conducted as fundamentally flawed a set of audits as Bond Papers would contend - incompetent might be a better word - then let John dig into his bank account and repay to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador every red cent spent since he made his first accusation.

It's only fair.

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Update [07 Dec 06]: Apparently Loyola "Rain Man" Sullivan, minister of finance and oddly enough a guy who has much to answer for in this scandal himself, hasn't consulted Danny Williams on recovering money. Sullivan told news media he already has an "office" looking into collecting the cash.

Sullivan was a member of the Commission of Internal Economy during much of the period when overspending took place. Sullivan spoke in support of changes to the IEC legislation in 1999 that Auditor general John Noseworthy has criticized. IEC is an executive committee of the legislature responsible for approving budgets, budget over-runs and generally overseeing House operations.

It is odd that Sullivan wasn't aware not only of the overspending Noseworthy found but also the half million dollars overspent by members of the legislature in each year since Sullivan has been finance and a member of the IEC.

Both Sullivan and Noseworthy knew about that overspending and approved it. Incidentally, Noseworthy only accounted for $200K of the total for '04 and '05. Noseworthy still hasn't explained the other $800K in overspending for those years.

Update Update: And then there's the rest of the cash. Not only has Auditor General John Noseworthy cost taxpayers the better part of a million bucks on his "audits" thus far, CBC Radio is now reporting that Chief Justice Derek Green and his retinue of part-time lawyers and researchers has set the public back about $600,000 for their review designed to recommend a new set of rules for pay and allowances for members.

Green is almost finished his report; he has committed to getting the paperwork handed in by the end of January. Noseworthy said this week the rest of his "audit" will take well into 2008. Noseworthy's office alone will wind up costing taxpayers more than he allegedly found in overspending by members. All told, taxpapers will be lucky if the total tab resulting from Noseworthy's allegations doesn't exceed the $4.4 million he alleges was diddlied.

In the meantime, we still don't have current Public Accounts and Noseworthy still hasn't explained the overspending that occured in 2004 and 2005.

Does the AG get paid by the hour?

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