Letter to the Editor

Reader takes issue with city audit article

Monday, February 5, 2018

Dear Editor:

Let me begin by providing the public with my full, unedited post on Facebook that was the focus of the Opinion article in your paper date Saturday January 27th.

“Tom Henry of the Courier News. Seriously dude. Not everything is negative.” This is the only part that was published and focused on. The rest of it reads, “If you will look at other city audits…or just call Thomas Speight and Noble, the statement that you make sound so horrible are from a Form Letter used by all financial services. It's bad when Jonesboro can give a positive story based on the same audit. The Courier is just becoming so negative with a couple of you “journalist”. What happened to journalism being biased?”

The main object of my Facebook post was that Mr. Henry took what ANY financial services disclaimer/cover letter states and made it sound like the Arkansas Legislative Audit was saying something was being hidden and wrong. It’s a DISCLAIMER. Kind of like the ones you will read if you use a credit card online, they always sound kind of scary.

Here is a link to the ALA and the audit reports http://www.arklegaudit.gov/our-reports/search-audits/default.aspx It covers them if something was unfound, but let me tell you that the Legislative Audit does a thorough and awesome job. It is very time consuming for all parties, they do look at EVERY account the city holds. It would be impossible for them to look at every invoice, so hence the disclaimer. They spend more than two months in the cities Finance Department conducting the audit (It used to be 6 months a few years ago, but they tell us it is much smoother now).

Four years ago I started working in the Blytheville Finance Department, with my expectation of my job being that I was there to answer the phones from the bill collectors that called. THIS is what Blytheville reputation was.

That wasn’t what happened. For months before there had been one employee of the finance department and through lots of overtime and awesome work ethic she had done so much to straighten up before the new City Collector came, the new Account Payable Assistant (me) came, and the new Finance Director came, that things were actually in a state that venders weren’t calling.

The Arkansas Legislative audit was a feather in our caps that what we are doing here is WORKING. It’s the first clean audit the city has had in 16 years! So why is Mr. Tom Henry putting such a negative spin on it?

The Opinion article states Mr. Henry has been positive in the past…let me list a few of the last few titles of that column: Blytheville School Board, where are the priorities?, City Council should be servants, not pharaonic lords and masters; When good people are silent, evil prevails; Leadership, where has it gone?; and on and on…. I DO appreciate that he stood up for the citizens against the Jonesboro media….several months ago, hence my FB comment of “It’s bad when Jonesboro can give a positive story based on the same audit.” Check out KAIT’s story on it http://www.kait8.com/…/city-receives-first-clean-audit-in-y…

I really don’t know much about journalism, I will admit that, I’ve been working for accountants since 2000. I do remember my high school English teacher teaching us some principles of journalism though such as verify facts and they should be fair and reliable. I was also taught that journalism should be unbiased. Part of my post was about my (and in response Christi’s) grief on such a thing dying.

Yes my post was very much about calling you out on not verifying facts. It’s not just your paper either, it’s all over the country.

I published all of this on Facebook, where Mr. Henry had a chance to comment and debate there. He chose this format for his rebuttal. Where AGAIN, it just showed the part of my post HE wanted to make a point of. This doesn’t seem to be very TRANSPARENT journalism.

I am the type of person that will tell you if you have a belt loop skipped or a piece of lint on your clothes. What my Facebook post said in a nut shell was that your AGENDA is showing…and in MY opinion, it’s not very attractive.

— Clarissa “CJ” Jones

City of Blytheville