Weisman-Bock feud hits impasse in Palm Beach County clerk’s road-money inquiry

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, August 06, 2009

WEST PALM BEACH — The long-heated rivalry between Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman and financial watchdog Sharon Bock reached a boiling point today.

Weisman told Bock that his staff won’t cooperate with her office’s review of a county road-paving program.
Bock’s office initiated the review at the request of Commissioner Shelley Vana and a county resident.

“I don’t think anybody needs to do it,” Weisman said today. “I think this is almost a political audit, not a technical audit.”

Bock, the county’s elected clerk of the circuit court, added the word “comptroller” to her title shortly after winning the post in 2004. Since then, she has been at odds with Weisman and other county leaders over that role.

Weisman said his staff will fulfill public records requests on the issue, but that is all the help they will give unless the county commission or audit committee calls for the review.

“The fact that you would jump to do this without a formal request from the County Commission or Audit Committee again demonstrates why your office is not an objective party to serve in a broader auditing role than is currently authorized by law,” Weisman wrote in an e-mail to Bock.

In a statement released today, Bock said her office was only doing what it was asked to do.

“As the County’s Auditor, and a member of the Audit Committee, my office has an obligation to respond to Commissioner Vana’s request,” Bock said.

She added: “Because the issue brought forth by the complainant has remained unresolved for the past 16 months, Commissioner Vana and everyone on our audit team is committed to conducting a prompt and thorough review of the (road) program. This review can go a long way toward rebuilding the public’s trust during this time of unprecedented mistrust in government.”

County resident Andy Schaller, who initially called for the review, has been at odds with county managers for more than a year. Schaller wants the private road paved in front of a home he owns in the Palm Beach Ranchettes community suburban Lake Worth.

The commission has denied his request.

Until last year, a county program let residents vote to assess themselves 50 percent of the cost to pave the road. The county covered the remaining cost. But that program is out of money.

“This is strictly a citizen who had a problem with decisions,” Weisman said. “There is nothing about law or finance that it involves.”

Vana, chairwoman of the county’s audit committee, said she would ask the entire board to sign off on the review at the next meeting.

“If someone wants to find out and the clerk is willing to do it, why would we stop it?” Vana said. “I know there is a history that goes back, but it is a new day and we can trust each other to just do good government.”

View the letter to Clerk Bock requesting the MSTU audit
View Clerk’s MSTU Audit Letter to the BCC
View the Palm Beach Post story

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