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Gainesville City Commissioners Accept Reichert House Audit Despite Controversy

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The Gainesville City Commission approved a motion Thursday night to accept an audit for the Reichert House Youth Academy despite claims that the city auditor might have had a conflict of interest.

Gainesville city auditor Carlos Holt completed the audit of the program’s administration, finances and performance metrics in November, and it was released on April 12. He found a lack of standard business processes, lack of transparency, grants being obtained and managed outside the city’s oversight, inaccurate and inadequate procedures for performance metrics and poorly documented purchase transactions.

Interim city manager Deborah Bowie requested that the audit be reviewed and completed by a third party due to multiple interactions between Holt and the Gainesville Police Department over the last few months.

Chief Tony Jones co-founded Reichert House in 1987. Bowie said this presented a conflict of interest.

GPD was called to Holt’s home three times, once in 2015 and twice last year, for issues regarding himself and his family. Holt was never charged, but incident reports show that there was a domestic disturbance, a Department of Children and Families investigation regarding Holt’s son and a call related to domestic simple battery.

Bowie requested that the city hire an external auditor to review Holt’s audit, which the city agreed to do.

During the meeting, Bowie said that the audit showed no evidence of wrongdoing, but did alert the city to process and performance measures that will require further attention. This was part A of a two-part audit. These findings will be more thoroughly examined in part B of the audit.

“I have to tell you, in my professional experience, I’ve never been through an audit program like this,” Bowie said.

For 30 minutes, citizens made public comments, largely in favor of Bowie’s suggestion that the city use a third party to review the audit and ask for Holt’s dismissal. 

Commissioner Gigi Simmons said that while she supported the motion, the findings were a clear indication that changes must be made in the program.

“I want to be very clear; we need to straighten up. Our children depend on it,” she said.

The commission voted 4-2 to move forward with Holt’s audit, with Harvey Ward and Adrian Hayes-Santos voting against. Both commissioners said they thought Holt’s audit should be rejected completely.

“It’s disturbing that what you have here is not a true fact,” Hayes-Santos said to Holt during the meeting.

During public comment Reichert House executive director John Alexander told the board that the findings and controversy deeply affected him, and that he was ready to do whatever necessary to fix the issue.

“We are ready to make Gainesville proud again.”

About Josephine Fuller

Josephine is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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