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— The big problem with the Maco report is its untenable conclusions. It correctly portrays an incompetent and dysfunctional city government, citing "meager disclosure," "confusing footnote," "vague outline," "inaccuracies," "failures in the city's disclosure process," "careless manner," "check-the-box mentality," and "poor lines of communication." The city attorney's office, auditor, city manager's office, city council, and others dropped the ball continuously, the report emphasizes.

The report says, "The city administration had adopted a minimalist approach to public disclosure, providing the public with negative information only when it has felt legally required to do so." (Italics mine.) So much for the SEC's call on 9/26/2001 to "go beyond the limits of disclosure mandated by law."

City officials "don't say anything bad unless they absolutely have to," says Maco.

Despite all this, the report says it's hard to pin "intentional misconduct" on anyone.

Oh? The report itself belies that. It gives short shrift to pension-board member Diann Shipione's 2002 warnings to the mayor and council that finances were in bad shape, and there was an odor of corruption. If the report had stressed her warnings, it would have been difficult to conclude that misconduct arose from ignorance.

The report relates how several city financial officials were expressing their unhappiness with outside counsel Paul Webber, who was insisting on disclosure of litigation. Says the report, "The city was reluctant to openly share information with counsel [Webber] for fear its disclosure would be required, creating risk for both the city and its investors."

That's not intentional? "It speaks more of bad judgment," insists Maco. On Monday, the city manager said Webber's law firm will no longer be the city's disclosure counsel.

His report sees no intent, but it doesn't examine motivation. Maco should know that knaves disguise themselves as fools. Employees who were supposedly so incompetent had motivation to preserve their fat benefits. People with something to hide don't put things in writing; they communicate with winks and nods. The employees could have been fired, demoted, or permanently sidelined if they didn't play along with higher-ups. "I have no idea whether they could have been fired," says Maco.

Perhaps unknowingly, he has fingered the problem with purported self-policing.

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