Best Fiasco

In normal cities, government agencies are audited regularly. Some on a schedule, some according to a risk assessment, but almost always all systems are scrutinized at least every few years. Not in Baltimore. Charm City does a single overall audit of the whole budget-basically a line-by-line math check. But no one investigates the police department's evidence room, its property seizures, or overtime system for abuses. The fire department's equipment goes un-inventoried; public works and transportation contracts are not checked. Three years ago, a group of people, eventually led by City Councilman Carl Stokes, pushed the mayor and comptroller for an audit of the city's Department of Recreation and Parks-which had not been done for more 30 years. Still hasn't. The mayor and the comptroller have resisted that single audit as well as Stokes' bill-since watered-down, nearly to death-that now proposes a charter amendment to schedule occasional audits of 14 departments. The fiasco perfectly illustrates Baltimore's exceptionalism.

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