Update: I have now read the article three times because I wasn't clear on all that was presented. I have edited this post to reflect what I believe to be a better understanding of what was reported.
Buck passing is becoming fast and furious down at City Hall over who knew or should have known about the financial irregularities of Project Homestead. It is a wonder that the N&R's Stan Swofford was able to come up with such a thorough investigative report because there were so many "I don't recall/remembers and "unavailable for comments/didn't return calls" from elected and unelected City officials. But the article IS compelling.
Some members of our City Council are now in play. This on the heals of the the N&R's April editorial opinion that our elected leaders are "guilty of the same failures" as Homestead's Board of Directors. The whole saga can be found here (N&R archives) in case you just rolled into town.
The main revelation (although there are many others) provided by Swofford is that now retired City internal audit director Jacky Dowd submitted a damning draft audit of Project Homestead into one end of City Hall in 2000. When it came out the other end for public consumption, the audit was a benign document because the bad parts had been re-written.
Everyone interviewed denies that they changed, nor directed anyone else to change, the draft document's findings about inflated construction costs. But Dowd, a hard nosed and obviously caring ex-public servant, says, "I would never have taken that out." The fact remains that it did get changed.
Regarding Reverend Michael King's repeated efforts to avoid a complete and open "program income audit", Dowd states the obvious, "When people don't want you to audit, you know there's a reason." Exactly...
Although the article never names who caused the audit to be re-written it provides much fodder for speculation. Perhaps the next installment will pin down exactly who intervened to cleanse the draft audit's obvious evidence of malfeasance on the part of Rev. King and Project Homestead. Once we find this out, we will know who within City government felt they had to appease Reverend King.
Reading between Swofford's lines, it is looking more and more like the lack of City Council oversight that resulted in the Homestead scandal cannot be attributed to "we didn't know" anymore. The article infers that at least some of our elected officials were made aware by Dowd and others that Project Homestead was fleecing the taxpayers - but they kept giving his organization millions anyway.
The whole thing is almost inexplicable until you take into account the fact that Rev. King had a strong influence over a considerable number of votes. If there is another explanation for why King's organization was given such extraordinary autocratic latitude I hope that our someone will let us in on it.