As of Friday afternoon, Tastie Fish has not received the audits that were performed by Duncan Solutions, and Passport Parking between the years of 2011, and 2016.
We had been requesting the revenue records for weeks, and new developments in the last 48 hours are challenging the veracity of the records that were submitted to us two weeks ago.
In an email last week, Doug Hasuladen seemingly cooperated with our request, informed us Deputy Director Michael Pinto would look into it, and asked us to go through City Hall channels for an 1v1 interview that is becoming more and more relevant in this newsroom.
“Mike will go check with our finance department, the department whom handles any audits, regarding your requests below. What you are asking for may or may not exist at the transaction level in an easy to access fashion. As the Director of TT&P, I have no idea what those documents look like, but we will go talk to the appropriate department and respond on behalf of the City after checking with Kathleen Foster.”
At a City Hall press conference with the Mayor on Wedensday, Tastie Fish was lucky enough to meet financial controller Daryl Jones, the chief administrator of the Finance Department.
During a cordial, and helpful conversation, Mr. Jones informed this magazine he could produce the audits right away, “we can get that taken care of”, which was a relief, because the TT&P Director told us in that same email that “such documents may or may not exist at the transaction level in an easy to access fashion”.
During that conversation, Tastie Fish explained the scope of our investigation.
What was troubling, is the Finance Controller did not seem to have any idea who we were, or why we were making such an intrusive request.
Perhaps our request was delegated to a subordinate, but it would seem a FOIA request this intricate, and intrusive, would have to come across the controller’s desk.
He was polite, but it seemed he felt ambushed.
Which is inconsistent with the assurances given to us by the Department of Traffic and Transportion, or other dynamics at play.
When pressed for comment on whether or not he had received any such requests in the last week, or ever, Mr. Jones would neither confirm nor deny he has been contacted by Michael Pinto, or anyone else associated with DOT.
At this time, Tastie Fish has been unable to confirm communication between the departments in regards to our FOIA request and that unto itself seems incongruent if you consider the nature of the records we are requesting, or the amount of time that has expired.
The interaction with Mr. Jones meanwhile raised questions.
How could possibly Mr. Jones be unaware of this? This story is a month old.
The time stamps from our recent email exchange with TT&P suggest that over five business days elapsed between Mr. Hausladen confirming receipt of our request, and our conversation with the controller.
Nevermind the preceding four weeks in which we made it clear through email and in copy that we wanted an accurate depiction of the revenue.
With TT&P under scrunity to produce revenue records for an extended period of time, and considering Mr. Hausladen’s statement that the Finance Department “handles” the audits, how could the director of the Finance Department have no idea our investigation was ongoing?
Traffic and Transportation Director Doug Hausladen forwarded revenue records to this magazine, if he does not have access to the audits, and does not “even know what those documents look like”, if the controller is the actual custodian, with a FOIA request that was weeks old, how did Doug Hausladen produce revenue records without the controller being fully aware of this situation?
Does he have separate files? Mangerial reports?
What was the source of those numbers if not the audits?
These are among the questions we hope he can answer.
When disseminating public revenue records, nothing less than the actual audits should be acceptable, and if they are pulled from other files, the Finance Department should be made aware of it.
Because the numbers that were submitted had the endorsement of the city government, so the people that control the money should have the opportunity to rubber stamp those numbers, even provide the audits so there is no mistakes.
Especially if the Traffic and Transportation has been tasked with producing the actual revenue, and not a dime short of that principle.
This is millions and millions of dollars, hard earned public money that has flowed through these conduits, the stewards of such an important city resource have an obligation to be transparent about the amounts, and the files that accompany them.
Communication between the two departments seems like a matter of professionalism, and due diligence as it relates to a FOIA request from a news outlet.
Which is why we attempted to confirm any such communications when the TT&P went silent this week.
In an email to Finance Controller Daryl Jones Thursday afternoon, Tastie Fish submitted a list of questions for a story we wanted to run yesterday.
We did not receive a response, and Mr.Jones has not responded to multiple telephone calls seeking comment as of Friday afternoon.
Tastie Fish looks forward to the release of the audits, and will be seeking to figure out how the revenue records we published were generated along with interviews with the concerned parties.
Stay tuned to Tastie Fish as this story develops.