Over the last several weeks the story of embezzlement of City funds has been unfolding. While there are reasons to criticize the administration regarding the handling of the investigation, what is even more important is how we move forward.
Once the method by which the money was stolen is determined it is vital that procedures be put in place to prevent this type of embezzlement from ever happening again. I would urge the Board of Aldermen to assume their role as the fiduciary body of the City and either hire an outside firm to review the events and make recommendations or bring together a small committee of knowledgeable citizens to review the events and make recommendations. You may ask why should this be done by the Aldermen. It is because they are ultimately responsible for City finances. They approve budgets and they must ensure that our tax dollars are spent according to the budget they approve. The Mayor oversees the administration of the city while the Aldermen act as our board of directors.
There are several questions that will need to be answered:
• Why did the auditors not catch the embezzlement sooner? What needs to change?
• How exactly was the embezzlement accomplished?
• Why was the alleged embezzler allowed to resign and was not fired?
• Why were the police not called in when the issue was first discovered?
I will hold back any criticism until we learn more.
Now on a very different subject, on Sept. 3 we celebrated Labor Day. For some the day signifies the end of summer, for others the beginning of school. Often we forget that it is a day to celebrate the men and women who work in our factories, build our roads and buildings, work in retail stores and perform all those tasks that make this country what it is.
The working man and woman is under attack. Unions are blamed for many of our economic problems. Yet we forget it was unions that fought for the 40 hour work week, vacation and holiday pay, medical benefits and retirement programs. Unions are under attack. A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook “Labor is the United States. The men and women, who with their minds, their hearts and hands, create the wealth that is shared in this country — they are America. So as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public, the protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.” — 1956 Republican Party Platform, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Now that very political party would eliminate the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain. As a person growing up in a union family with a dad who was attacked by company goons while walking the picket line, who saw his pension fund raided by a corporate take over, I have seen what greed does to the lives of working men and women. While there are laws to protect workers, in the end it is unions that are there to stand up to Corporations to protect the rights that workers have fought hard to earn. By the way, regardless of the opinion of the Supreme Court, corporations are not people.
David Gioiello is the chair of Shelton’s Democratic Town Committee.