Letter: Administration didn’t address previously uncovered problems

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To the editor,

In August of 2017, there was a Town Council investigation into transactions made from the budget for public works employees’ salary to pay outside vendors and non-public works employees that Mayor Robert Chatfield’s Republican party tried unsuccessfully to quash. That investigation proved that requested financial documents had been withheld, that monies reported as employee payroll went somewhere else, that no written financial procedures were in place and that balancing controls were inadequate.

When faced with these facts, the mayor pledged to the Town Council that he would fix whatever was wrong.

Fast forward four years to August of 2021, the recent independent risk assessment audit report observes that not all the financial documents the independent audit firm requested from the town were provided, that more than $250,000 in a town payroll account went somewhere else, that there were still no written financial procedures, and that no one was even reconciling a town checking account; one where about $3 million flow through annually. The auditors remarked that what they observed, financially speaking, included some high-risk practices. So, in the last four years, exactly what did the mayor change?

In 2017, he promised that those previously uncovered problems would be fixed, but as it turns out, they weren’t. And why didn’t any of the other elected officials or appointed members of his administration follow-up to see if these important changes had been implemented? If the Nixon White House had circled their wagons as efficiently as the administration does here in Prospect, Nixon would have completed his second term as president and Watergate would have been just another hotel in Washington, D.C.

According to newspaper reports, the mayor learned about the theft from the payroll account in 2018 but didn’t inform the public for another 14 months; or as it worked out, until just after the 2019 elections. He would have you believe that Prospect is a quaint little bourg much like Andy Griffith’s Mayberry RFD. So was it possibly someone like Deputy Barney Fife who headed up an investigation lasting 14 months just to figure out where the missing money went?

There is another election this November, and all that’s known for certain about these alleged thefts is that police charged a suspect in January of 2020. The mayor is asking for people’s vote so he can get another two-year term. I am a dedicated Republican but given this administration’s historic lack of transparency, I won’t be voting for Bob Chatfield, or for anyone who provides him shade, in this November’s election.

Thomas J. Galvin

Prospect

The writer is a former chairman of the Prospect Town Council and was chairman in 2017.