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Lewes, Delaware
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December 6, 2002     Cape Gazette
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December 6, 2002
 

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DRBA audit raises questions that may not be answered By Jim Cresson Six months after Delaware Riv- er & Bay Authority (DRBA) con- tracted an outside firm to audit its spending practices in the wake of public revelation of the authority spending more than $1 million to send its commissioners and staff to international trade conferences where they played golf on some of the best courses in the world, the report is in and the news must be bad. Embarrassment may be the key word for the current authority management as it attempts to re- lease the Deloitte & Touche inves- tigative audit report at a 2 p.m. press conference, Dec. 6, at DR- BA headquarters in New Castle. Just prior to the report release, DRBA commissioners held a closed-door executive session to discuss the contents of the report and decide which parts are deemed confidential under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and which they may keep from releasing. The rest will be synopsized at the press confer- ence. The "Atlantic City Press" has filed a FOIA request to see the en- tire investigative audit report. The misuse of Authority funds began with "News Journal" reve- lations that former executive di- rector Mike Harkins and at least one DRBA commissioner used an official airplane to travel to sport- ing events. That led to reports of further misuse of both the airplane and a helicopter given the authori- ty by the federal government to be used by DRBA police. From there, the scope of alleged misuse of funds widened to include spending for visits to known sex trade establishments.in Philadel- 3hia and eventually cost Harkins his job. Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Min- ner put Lewes resident Jim John- son into the executive director's position and called for tighter overs'l'ght and no more question- able spending. The Deloitte & Touche report is likely to reignite public disgust at the excessive spending under the Harkins leadership. It is also bound to spark calls for the entire report to be made public without need for FOIA requests. It has been reported - but not confirmed - that DRBA attorneys have been trying to collect reim- bursement from commissioners for the many trip expenses they charged to the DRBA. Calls have already been made for those com- missioners' resignations, regard- less of whether they pay back the money DRBA spent on them. Since the excessive spending revelations, the internal DRBA audit committee has performed its work and acknowledged it needed an outside firm to help. Policy changes on travel and expendi- tures have been initiated, and it is doubtful that any more lavish trade group outings to the Philip- pines or Europe, complete with golf outings to Scotland, will be offered again. "We are trying to decide what to release and what not to release," said DRBA spokesman Jim Salmon. He said the authority would have no comment at all on what- ever may arise from-the'curi-ent federal grand jury hearing of evi- dence surrounding the same is- sues. Insiders say they expect fed- eral indictments to come soon. The Federal Bureau of Investiga- tions has been busy taking a look at all the DRBA alleged impropri- eties. We're spreading comfort beyond the humble human foot. This holiday season, Birkenstock ฎ will make a donation to the Pediatric Aids Foundation. We encourage everyone to consider the needs of others and wish you a very happy holiday. SPtCIAtTY StO|t ! OOo.. I Just Birkenstock _ 4551 Highway One • Rehoboth Beachl DE (next to Pier 1 Imports) 302-645-6590 CAPE GAZETY, Friday, Dec. 6 -Dec. 12, 2002 - 5 LOT LISTINGS Wolfe Pointe, Lot #134 .................. $194,500 Wolfe Pointe, Lots 55, 80, 88, 184, 185, 186, 187 (Under Contract) Cape Shores, Lot #113 •$539,000 Broadkill Beach $137,000 • • • • • • • • • • • • Wolfe Runne Cape Shores 28 Lewes Medical Lot #88 - 6 bedrooms, 5.5 baths, $1,875,000 Wolfe Pointe 105 4th St. Medical Offices Lewes Beach Lot 13, Tarpon Drive Lewes Beach 1103 Cedar Ave & 3 Newark St., $565,000 #9 Queen Anne Pier Plantations Wolfe Runne 2nd Floor, 2 bedroom,2 bath, $214,900 84 Spinnaker Circle DRBA audit raises questions that may not be answered By Jim Cresson Six months after Delaware Riv- er & Bay Authority (DRBA) con- tracted an outside firm to audit its spending practices in the wake of public revelation of the authority spending more than $1 million to send its commissioners and staff to international trade conferences where they played golf on some of the best courses in the world, the report is in and the news must be bad. Embarrassment may be the key word for the current authority management as it attempts to re- lease the Deloitte & Touche inves- tigative audit report at a 2 p.m. press conference, Dec. 6, at DR- BA headquarters in New Castle. Just prior to the report release, DRBA commissioners held a closed-door executive session to discuss the contents of the report and decide which parts are deemed confidential under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and which they may keep from releasing. The rest will be synopsized at the press confer- ence. The "Atlantic City Press" has filed a FOIA request to see the en- tire investigative audit report. The misuse of Authority funds began with "News Journal" reve- lations that former executive di- rector Mike Harkins and at least one DRBA commissioner used an official airplane to travel to sport- ing events. That led to reports of further misuse of both the airplane and a helicopter given the authori- ty by the federal government to be used by DRBA police. From there, the scope of alleged misuse of funds widened to include spending for visits to known sex trade establishments.in Philadel- 3hia and eventually cost Harkins his job. Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Min- ner put Lewes resident Jim John- son into the executive director's position and called for tighter overs'l'ght and no more question- able spending. The Deloitte & Touche report is likely to reignite public disgust at the excessive spending under the Harkins leadership. It is also bound to spark calls for the entire report to be made public without need for FOIA requests. It has been reported - but not confirmed - that DRBA attorneys have been trying to collect reim- bursement from commissioners for the many trip expenses they charged to the DRBA. Calls have already been made for those com- missioners' resignations, regard- less of whether they pay back the money DRBA spent on them. Since the excessive spending revelations, the internal DRBA audit committee has performed its work and acknowledged it needed an outside firm to help. Policy changes on travel and expendi- tures have been initiated, and it is doubtful that any more lavish trade group outings to the Philip- pines or Europe, complete with golf outings to Scotland, will be offered again. "We are trying to decide what to release and what not to release," said DRBA spokesman Jim Salmon. He said the authority would have no comment at all on what- ever may arise from-the'curi-ent federal grand jury hearing of evi- dence surrounding the same is- sues. Insiders say they expect fed- eral indictments to come soon. The Federal Bureau of Investiga- tions has been busy taking a look at all the DRBA alleged impropri- eties. We're spreading comfort beyond the humble human foot. This holiday season, Birkenstock ฎ will make a donation to the Pediatric Aids Foundation. We encourage everyone to consider the needs of others and wish you a very happy holiday. SPtCIAtTY StO|t ! OOo.. I Just Birkenstock _ 4551 Highway One • Rehoboth Beachl DE (next to Pier 1 Imports) 302-645-6590 CAPE GAZETY, Friday, Dec. 6 -Dec. 12, 2002 - 5 LOT LISTINGS Wolfe Pointe, Lot #134 .................. $194,500 Wolfe Pointe, Lots 55, 80, 88, 184, 185, 186, 187 (Under Contract) Cape Shores, Lot #113 •$539,000 Broadkill Beach $137,000 • • • • • • • • • • • • Wolfe Runne Cape Shores 28 Lewes Medical Lot #88 - 6 bedrooms, 5.5 baths, $1,875,000 Wolfe Pointe 105 4th St. Medical Offices Lewes Beach Lot 13, Tarpon Drive Lewes Beach 1103 Cedar Ave & 3 Newark St., $565,000 #9 Queen Anne Pier Plantations Wolfe Runne 2nd Floor, 2 bedroom,2 bath, $214,900 84 Spinnaker Circle