Awakened by the ‘e’ word’s warning

Print Article

Innocent until proven guilty.

Let’s say that again: Innocent until proven guilty.

For the record, the executive director of a local nonprofit that uses taxpayer funds, North Idaho Housing Coalition, is no longer employed by the agency after leading it since its inception in 2009. That much is known. What’s also known is that a financial audit is being conducted while the agency’s office in Coeur d’Alene is closed. Beyond that, speculation pretty much rules the day.

When an organization’s leader leaves under something of a cloud — in this case, no retirement was announced, no celebration held, and the former director declines to return calls from the local newspaper — the “e” word often surfaces. And when officials acknowledge that the audit is looking for financial irregularities, the “e” word picks up a little steam.

Embezzlement is no stranger to these parts, alas. In recent years, cases of massive theft have rocked the nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates, Kootenai County government and cities large and small, including Coeur d’Alene and Athol. In the summer of 2012, a city of Coeur d’Alene finance employee was caught after embezzling $365,000 over six years. In June 2015, former Athol City Clerk Sally Hansen was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling $417,879 from city coffers. It stands to reason that if someone can steal that much money from an organization with a relatively small budget, nobody is safe.

As facts will eventually clear up the North Idaho Housing Coalition mystery, this is as good a time as any to remind the people responsible for overseeing public funds of the higher level of trust that’s been placed in them. Rigorous audits that might seem an extravagance should instead be seen as imperatives. Workshops geared toward the prevention and detection of employee fraud or theft should be accessed. Trust but verify should be standard operating procedure.

It’s our hope that the housing coalition’s former director will be fully exonerated, her name cleared and the organization’s reputation restored. Having said that, stories like this one can provide timely reminders of the importance of extreme vigilance for all public purse-string holders. Let’s see who’s paying attention.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Possibilities on the prairie are profound

October 21, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Development of the freshly minted “Tech URD” in Post Falls is going to cause some grief. For those who see the beauty in a swath of barren prairie, disappointment is assured. It will be replaced wit...

Comments

Read More

You’re gonna miss them when they’re gone

October 19, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Innocent insects inspiring nothing but human ire. Poor aphids. The hordes of bitty bugs that descend on our region every autumn can be annoying, true. And if you peer at one through a microscope or...

Comments

Read More

It takes more than that to silence Cecil

October 17, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press The letters are always hand-delivered, pecked out on an old typewriter, double-spaced, all caps. Sometimes there’s a coffee stain or other evidence of the writer’s breakfast on the letter. At a glan...

Comments

Read More

‘I had no idea’ just won’t cut it, guys

October 14, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Please do something really important today. It might save a life you love. It could be one step toward making the world a better place. Do what one local father did: Email a link to your daughters ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2018 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X