Friday, December 25, 2020

The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #12: Chattanooga spending needs a red light.

The Beacon Center -In an interesting “whodunit” in Chattanooga this year, city auditors discovered that, well, city officials might need to keep closer tabs on the gadgets that they’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars to have. 

Way back in 2013, the city purchased over $6 million worth of new street lights from Global Green Lighting (GGL), but according to City Auditor Stan Sewell in an interview with the Chattanoogan, “The lighting project…was never fully implemented and the city no longer has possession of the light fixtures.” 

That’s right: when auditors in 2018 went to the warehouse that was supposedly storing these lights to get an inventory, they were nowhere to be found. Where did they go? After consulting another employee in the warehouse building, it was discovered that $5.59 million worth of lights were picked up from the warehouse by the CEO of the company who sold the lights to them in the first place. After a city employee unlocked the warehouse for the team from GGL to enter, they left, leaving non-government employees alone to reclaim government-paid-for lights. The Washington Post says “Democracy dies in darkness.” So too does our trust in our elected officials and bureaucrats. 

Solution: Increase detailed—and public—budget reporting in cities so taxpayers know how their dollars are being used…or not used. 

 on the twelfth day of Christmas, the government gave to me… some lightbulbs used by nobody

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