By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
A current member of the Chariton Valley Planning & Development Council of Government's board in July during a telephone call said all questions about the state audit would have to go through their attorney.
Dean Kaster, a current CVP&D board member and board president cited in the state audit of the non-profit for the period of July 1, 2007-Aug. 31, 2010 released July 2 that identified alleged financial mismanagement by then executive director, Tracy Daugherty, and highly critical of the lack of board oversight, said a decision was made during a meeting to have attorney Shannon Woods, of Bloomfield, to answer all questions to make sure everyone was saying the same thing.
"We had a board meeting the other night and all of the directors on that board have talked to our attorney and we've been advised to direct any questions to our attorney," Kaster said during a telephone call Friday, July 27. "That way we've got everybody saying the same thing."
Woods on Monday, Aug. 13 by telephone said any questions concerning CVP&D going through her was to make sure the answers remained consistent.
"I just informed them that if anybody has specific questions, the best answer to give is to call me," Woods said. "So that I can make sure that it gets answered consistent with the release from the auditor of the state of Iowa."
Woods said deferring questions about CVP&D to her is not an effort by the board to avoid scrutiny or not cooperate.
"They have me and that's my job and it's just easier if I answer all the questions so that it's consistent," Woods said, noting she has been CVP&D's attorney for more than one year and advises them on personnel, policy and other legal issues. "So it isn't something where they came and retained me just for purposes of this audit."
Woods said part of the audit was critical of the board charged with oversight. Yet, she said, the audit failed to show corrective actions the board took in August of 2010 to prevent a repeat performance, like adopt new policies, regulations and obtain outside payroll and accounts receivable assistance "to ensure there's definitely checks and balances in place now," Woods said.
"And they've made huge strides in terms of making sure that a director isn't able to put the board in this position again," Woods said. "The biggest criticism, I think, of the board, was that they trusted Daugherty too much. And you would want to believe to trust your director, but unfortunately that was not the case."
Woods said no one with CVP&D or board members have been contacted by law enforcement. Yet, board members have indicated to her they want to proceed with criminal charges against Daugherty.
"I know collectively as a board they have expressed their support to the Appanoose County attorney to proceed with criminal charges against Ms. Daugherty," Woods said. "But my understanding is, that likely, is not going to take place. My understanding is that he did not feel that was something that would be worth pursuing."
Two telephone calls to Richard Scott, Appanoose County attorney's office, were not answered and messages left have not been returned.
Woods said the board's decision to support criminal charges being filed is one way they would be able to recover some of the money from Daugherty through restitution. Woods said some of the government agencies that granted money to CVP&D might want some of it back based on the appearance of financial mismanagement.
Other than criminal restitution, the board could pursue civil action against Daugherty for alleged theft, something Woods said the board has not given much thought.
"Primarily because that would be a backup option to the county attorney deciding to bring criminal charges," Woods said. "But, ideally, we'd like to see the state move forward and prosecute her for the theft."
In the August/September 2008 CVP&D newsletter announcing officers, Daugherty talks about the need to expand office space because "A dramatic increase in demand for council's services in the past year necessitated a move to occupy the 3,400 square foot facility, more than two times the size of the council's previous office."
The newsletter story doesn't explain the "dramatic increase" but points out council staff expanded to four full-time employees.
"In our first year, the council has doubled its staff and office space," notes Daugherty. "The purpose in doing that is for our organization to be better able to assist our four counties and 27 cities with their needs."
The state audit of CVP&D lists 205 N. 13th St. in Centerville as their office.
According to the July/August 2007 Chariton Valley Planning & Development Newsletter, CVP&D became Iowa's newest Council of Governments on July 1, 2007.
The audit states the counties of Appanoose, Lucas, Monroe and Wayne left Area XV Regional Planning Commission in fiscal year 2004 because of "concerns with the management of Area XV. The counties then began working with Chariton Valley Resource and Development Corporation and between the two they created CVP&D as a non-profit corporation on Feb. 4. 2004 with Daugherty the executive director.
CVP&DCofG executive board of directors:
• June 30, 2008: Dean Kaster, chairperson Appanoose County; Larry Davis, vice chair Lucas County; Dennis Ryan, treasurer Monroe County; Jerry O’Dell Wayne County; and Daugherty, executive director.
• June 30, 2009: Kaster; Davis; John Hamilton Lucas County; Ryan; O’Dell; and Daugherty.
• June 30, 2010: Kaster; Davis; Hamilton; Ryan; O’Dell; and Daugherty.
June 30, 2011: Kaster; Davis; Hamilton; Ryan; Bill Alley Wayne County; and Moore.
Daugherty resigned as the executive director Aug. 25, 2010; Nichole Moore was appointed executive director the same day.