The City of Progress has fallen and it can’t get up.
Six major violations over the last two years within the city’s financial record-keeping have been reported along with several other infractions, bringing shame to a city that was once as spotless as Mother Teresa’s reputation.
When a firm as respectable as Carr, Riggs & Ingram bring the hammer down and call Enterprise’s record keeping “incompetent,” it’s not only time to listen but high time to make changes... quick.
Enterprise, which rightfully earned its moniker as the City of Progress, doesn’t need to get such a reputation after being previously so clean. It could affect business here, even damaging its chances of getting such a project as the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs home. Why would a business locate to a community where its city audit was so deplorable?
Many have questioned (via emails, phone calls and texts) what in tarnation is going on. Even before the incredibly bad audit – I remember when audits were a time of praise for Enterprise – disturbing emails obtained by The Ledger surfaced where new (well, two years is kind of new) City Treasurer/Clerk Bob Dean was telling city employees to no longer do business with businesses not from Enterprise. Does that mean Dean hopes the city will not support HS Automotive Alabama because it’s headquartered in South Korea, Lowe’s because it’s from North Carolina, JC Penney because it’s from Texas, or perhaps McDonalds because it’s based out of Chicago. Those local businesses have local addresses and pay local taxes, as do their employees.
If Mr. Dean wants the city to no longer support these businesses, does this mean he will no longer be accepting their taxes? All such businesses should either be 1) rejoicing that their bottom line is about to get better; or 2), and much more likely, be furious at such a juvenile-like act from a city official.
Fortunately, Mayor Bill Cooper responded to Mr. Dean’s unwise email by telling city employees (in another email obtained by The Ledger) to “please disregard” Dean’s email and “I was not consulted on this matter.” Cooper understands that a business located in Enterprise is indeed a “local business.”
Carr, Riggs & Ingram are based in Enterprise and that company’s second-to-none CPAs and advisors fully admitted in their findings that something really bad is going on here, even using the term “incompetent.” Imagine had it been a Dothan or Montgomery firm learning of the terrible financial records being kept here. Might as well bring a hearse.
In the video of last week’s city council meeting – thankfully, the city council said it wanted to be transparent – you can watch and listen as Dean tries to place blame on people no longer employed by the city. One such former employee said in her resignation letter that was posted on the city’s web site that the city clerk/treasurer (Dean) and council president (Perry Vickers) had created a hostile work environment. Former Enterprise Finance Director Stephanie Crowe wrote in her letter that the next finance director should probably be a man because he would “be less likely to be bullied by the city clerk/treasurer or Vickers.”
Things seem to have run amok in Enterprise. There’s no time to point fingers, rather clean up the mess and get things progressing again.