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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Records detail abuse of Detroit's emergency checks

FOI at Work!
Detroit city officials used 900 emergency checks in just two years, most of them for questionable expenses, the Detroit Free Press reported. The newspaper obtained records through FOIA that indicated these checks were used to hire a public relations expert by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick during his scandal, to pay rent for the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and even to buy fuel for city cars. Often paperwork was not filled out, which means it's unclear who authorized the spending.
The City of Detroit has regularly used emergency checks to cover hundreds of routine or questionable expenses, including thousands of dollars for a public relations expert hired by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the midst of the text message scandal last year.

The emergency checks also were used to pay off credit cards for Kilpatrick, make nearly $1 million in rent payments for the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and purchase fuel for city vehicles. Experts say the actions suggest a cash flow problem for the city because money should be set aside in the budget for basic expenses such as rent.

The actions also are an abuse of an accounting practice known as quick checks, a process to provide same-day checks to cover emergencies.
More here.

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