I promise: Unfair Park won't be clogged with piece after piece about that Happy Trails safety campaign contract. But this one merits its own item: City Auditor Craig Kinton, who functions as an independent investigator inside the hallways of City Hall, returned my call moments ago and said his office will absolutely look into whether Park and Rec officials, with then-Park Board President Mike Rawlings's blessing, improperly gave one of the mayoral candidate's friends and former colleagues the contract.
Kinton says he's yet to speak with other city officials about Brett Shipp's story, but "we take all allegations of fraud, waste or abuse seriously," Kinton says. "And [the story] raised serious concerns, which is why we will add it to our list of work and evaluate the allegations and see what else we need to do. [The allegations] fall within our area of responsibility, and it's something we take seriously."
He says he's already spoken with his investigators and told them, "This is something we need to add to our work list." Kinton also lays out how the investigation will proceed: "In general terms we'll look at what the criteria is -- in other words, what are state laws as it relates to purchasing -- and what are the city's policies and procedures related to that. Then we'll look at the documents and see whether those policies were followed."
When asked when he expects the investigation to proceed, he says: "No thoughts on that."
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If and when I hear from other city officials, I'll update this item.
Update at 1:02 p.m.: This just in from Mayor-For-Now Dwaine Caraway.
I am clearly concerned about what I saw in the Channel 8 report. We have policies and procedures in place to protect against fraud, and I want to make sure those were followed by the Park Department. The City Auditor should be looking into this and I am pleased that his review is already underway. I want it to be thorough, free of any politics, and I want him to come back to us with some answers.