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Mallory's bills 'troubling'Mayor's brother asked to repay some money; he says noBY GREGORY KORTE | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITERDale Mallory's bills to a federally funded anti-poverty program "raise some troubling questions" about how the Cincinnati Empowerment Corp. hires and monitors its consultants, including possible conflicts of interest, lawyers for the agency said in a report.They recommended that Mallory, a Democratic candidate for state representative and the brother of Mayor Mark Mallory, repay taxpayers for time he billed the Empowerment Corp. for work related to the West End Community Council, where he served as its president.The lawyers' review of Mallory's billing statements was prompted by a story in The Enquirer last week, reporting that Mallory billed the Empowerment Corp. for hours he spent on Citylink, the proposal for a Bank Street social service center.Mallory's support for the project cost him the presidency of the community council. An anti-Citylink faction ousted him in February.In their report, attorneys Steven P. Goodin and Gregory J. Berberich said Mallory probably did nothing illegal.There were four times, however, that Mallory's bills for working on community council business "cannot be justified," the report said.The lawyers recommended that the corporation ask Mallory to repay fees for 8¾ hours, or about $225.Mallory, who worked 30 hours a week for $770 for 13 months, said Sunday that he doesn't plan to return the money."If the Empowerment Zone signed off on it - and if the city signed off on it, because they were all turned into the city for payment - if they had a problem, they should have dealt with it back then," he said. "They're beating a dead horse. I'm tired of it. I'm moving on to running for state rep and talking about real issues." The report to the Empowerment Corp. board - stamped "confidential" and obtained by The Enquirer - proposed three policy changes to "implement hard-learned management lessons" from the Mallory episode:Adopting a policy against hiring elected officials - or candidates for elective office - as independent contractors. "The potential for conflicts of interest, or the mere appearance of a conflict of interest, is simply too great," Goodin wrote.Mallory's contract began in April 2005, and he filed petitions to run for office four months ago. He said he hasn't billed the Empowerment Corp. since May.Establishing an independent panel to monitor the awarding of contracts. "In a community as small as this one, it is unrealistic to expect that all independent contractors will be complete strangers to the board. Nonetheless, the board cannot appear to be giving its contracts to its friends," the report said.As president of the West End Community Council, Dale Mallory appointed members to the Empowerment Corp. board.Allowing the Empowerment Corp.'s chief executive officer to direct independent contractors. "There is some indication that Mr. Mallory reported directly to different board members during his contract period. At times, this lack of a chain of command created real uncertainty as to the precise nature of his efforts on behalf of the CEC," according to the report.The board member who worked most closely with Mallory - meeting with him at least 84 times, according to an Enquirer review of Mallory's billing statements - was Chairman Len Garrett. He did not return calls seeking comment.Board Treasurer Lamont Taylor resigned from the board Friday, saying Garrett "kept the board in the dark" about the contract."I really feel like Dale did what he was directed to do," Taylor said. "If all these things have taken place at the direction of the chairman, I have no confidence in him."The Empowerment Corp. is a nonprofit group set up by the city in 2000 to distribute what was intended to be $100 million in federal aid to nine inner-city neighborhoods through the Clinton-era Urban Empowerment Zone program.E-mail email@example.com
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