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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

LaSala report on scathing housing audit due Tuesday

16

August

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala is due Tuesday to report to the County Commission on an audit of the Community Development department and Housing Finance Authority finding questionable breaks for a non profit and a contractor-paid party. (Stories here and here.) It's a late addition to a meeting focusing on the budget.

LaSala wouldn't say Monday what he plans to recommend before addressing the board. But he and Clerk of Courts Ken Burke -- who overseas the internal auditors -- have been talking recently about the disagreements over the findings, and where they could work better, said County Commissioner Nancy Bostock, who received a regular pre-meeting briefing Monday by LaSala.

But the Times editorial board is weighing in with an editorial for Tuesday's paper.

"An internal audit of two Pinellas County housing agencies identifies some potentially serious problems in county housing programs that warrant the immediate attention of County Administrator Bob LaSala. Despite the fighting between the auditors and county staff, there is too much smoke here to ignore," the editorial says, adding later of the party:

"In one case, the housing agencies allowed outside lenders and law firms with which they do business to pay for an $8,000 party to celebrate the Housing Finance Authority's 25th anniversary and provide expensive gifts for retiring officials. There is no justification for such practices, which are both inappropriately cozy and tone deaf."

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:41pm]

    

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