You Know Things Are Bad When the Turnaround Team Quits

Richmond city hall: out of control
Richmond city hall: out of control

City of Richmond finances are such a mess that Mayor Dwight Jones hired a special turnaround team around the beginning of the year to fix it. Now key members of that team, City Finance Director Paul Jez and Controller Leon Glaster, are bailing.

“I just realized that I wasn’t the right fit for the city at this particular point in time,” Jez told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I had reached the point that I wasn’t happy coming to work.” The challenges, he added, “are far greater than … I could have imagined. If I had known last year what I know today, I don’t know that I may have made a different decision.”

The city is months late in completing its 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. City officials have cited employee turnover, a lack of training and challenges in implementing a new financial system as reasons for missing the deadline. The city’s current external auditor, Cherry Bekaert, basically fired the city as a customer effective next year, citing a dysfunctional working environment.

Bacon’s bottom line: When the outside auditors and key players in the turnaround team quit, something is severely wrong in the City of Richmond administration. No longer is this a problem that Mayor Jones can delegate to someone else. He needs to forget about baseball stadiums, children’s hospitals and Redskins training grounds, and give his total unremitting focus to figuring out what’s broken and then fixing it. Richmond has seen more than its fair share of administrative scandals already. If city hall loses control of its finances, it loses control over every department in city hall.


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  1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    This is very bad news for Richmond and its citizens.

  2. CrazyJD Avatar

    One of the players who left even had turnaround experience in Detroit!! Jim is right. This is really serious. I see receivership, or its equivalent, coming. I doubt the current cast has a clue what to do.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    before we get into yet another full blown “Govt is hopelessly incompetent and inherently corrupt” food fight….

    let me ask a simple question.

    what is a CAFR and who requires Richmond to create it?

    Why doesn’t Richmond just flip the flying finger of “none of your freaking business” …?

    hint – § 15.2-2511

  4. CrazyJD Avatar


    Another false choice from the liberal side of the planet.

    Not all government is totally incompetent like these guys. And finance is a basic government function monitoring other legitimate governmental functions. Chesterfield has competent finance people, as does Henrico. As I recall, Goochland or Louisa had a problem some years back with embezzlement by the treasurer, but that’s an issue of fraud and theft, not competence. I was hesitant to say that fraud and theft may be involved in Richmond, but given the total lack of competence, it raises the possibility if for no other reason than incompetence enables fraud and theft, and probably did in Goochland/Louisa.
    Frankly, Richmond has a history of this crap since I’ve lived here. So I guess I’m glad for the sake of Richmond citizens that some other sector of government is requiring the CAFR. I guess I’m at a loss to understand why you think Richmond should flip the finger at them.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    I was not advocating that – I was asking why they wouldn’t just do that and my point was/is that Govt … REQUIRES them to be accountable.

    It’s a law in Va. Localities not only have to provide a budget but it must be GAPP standards and those standards have tightened down the last few years and are squeezing localities that played a little fast and loose with some of their numbers. One of those areas is pension liabilities and it’s having an effect on many localities who here-to-fore did not have to account for future pension obligations.

    I don’t know what Richmond’s problems are but I too am alarmed that not only did they not provide last years but their rescue team has fled.

    not good.

    you also pointed out that other localities are doing well.. and that was my point. Yes Richmond is in deep do do .. (always suspected it) but many others are doing just fine .. in other words – most govt is doing just fine… but there certainly are some that are not.

  6. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I plowed through this morning’s Times Dispatch looking for the follow up and in-depth coverage this story demands, but couldn’t find it. Perhaps it is coming. The canary in the coal mine was already dead and now the rescue team has fled. I don’t think the problem is just bad accounting or a failure to follow GAAP. The people who came in could have fixed that. Something deeper is going on. My guess is they recommended some things and were told no. But I’m counting on the TD to dig it out.

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