A cart Path at Keney Park Golf Course, Where is American Golf? It never looked like this when they were the City's Vendor
The full court press was put on the Internal Audit Commission by City Hall to not release the Keney Park Tree report. Below is the "opinion" written by Hartford's Deputy Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden in an attempt to keep the Audit report from Public scrutiny. His opinion didn't work.Van Norden seems to take offense with the Auditors using "legal terms" in their Audit report. Apparently that is a bad thing when it comes to laying out the facts. Instead maybe the Auditors should take a lesson from Van Norden in sugarcoating facts and rather than call the illegal removal of trees, call it a "Golf Course Tree Conversion Claim" as he calls it in his memo.
"Golf Course Tree Conversion Claim" does sound a lot better than saying a vendor defrauded the people of Hartford by removing assets, namely 275 Large red Oak trees probably worth hundreds of thousands of dollars . I can see why Van Norden doesn't want the report released since he and his bosses allowed the Letter of Credit that was required from MDM to protect the taxpayers of the City of Hartford in the case they defaulted , to expire. Van Norden and the Finance Director allowed the letter of credit to expire without any efforts to protect us from a lousy vendor. There is no financial recourse against MDM since they apparently have to assets available to attach,
Van Norden goes on to quote the City Code regarding the powers of the Audit Commission in his "opinion". If the fact that no one in City Government was paying enough attention to 275 large tress, one of the most valuable assets we have in our green spaces is not a City Government issue, I am not sure what is. It might also be an issue that apparently no legal action has been started to protect the City's interests from a vendor that has destroyed two valuable City assets. Are there any lawsuits or claims that have been filed by Van Norden, Kee-Borges or anyone else on the City's behalf to protect our interests? I can't find any.
Finally, Van Norden states that apparently the Auditors shouldn't focus on the law in their reports but should instead leave the legal analysis to the jurisdiction of the Corporation Counsel. Since the Corporation Counsel is or may very well be the focus of this audit as well as others, that might constitute a huge conflict of interest for Van Norden, to potentially sit in judgement of his own actions or that of his boss.
In the end, it is nothing more than a smokescreen to protect the Administration from another embarrassing misstep. On the positive side though, I think we are coming to just expect them now so it doesn't have the same shock effect
This opinion seems more negligent than any report the auditors could file.
And Mr. Van Norden, I know you are from out of town, but it is Keney, K-E-N-E-Y, not Kenny