Oct. 29, 2002 – Sen. Lorraine Berry took aim at Kenneth Mapp, top administrator of the Public Finance Authority, on Monday, saying he had maligned the character of his predecessor, Amadeo Francis, and of Arnold van Beverhoudt, regional audit manager for the U.S. Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.
Mapp's remarks came last week in response to initial media coverage of the highly critical draft report of the inspector general's audit of the Public Finance Authority. (See "Audit faults PFA for management, spending ills".)
In her weekly radio address and in a telephone interview Monday, Berry expressed astonishment at Mapp's statements. "I am outraged," she said. "With the spotlight on him now because he did not respond to the findings within the audit time period process," he "proceeds to shred the reputations of Arnold van Beverhoudt and Amadeo Francis, who have long records of responsible and honorable service to the government."
Berry said she was "repulsed, actually revolted" by Mapp's contention that van Beverhoudt does "not understand the complexity of the investment market," among other assertions.
Following accounts of the draft report published in The Avis and reported by radio stations on Oct. 22, Mapp took to the airwaves to denounce the document as "fatally flawed and severely lacking in professional quality." Speaking on WVWI Radio, he said there was "no factual evidence" for the audit findings concerning school construction overruns, and that what overruns there have been "come nowhere close to $17 million."
The Avis quotes Mapp in an Oct. 23 article as saying that "if the inspector general continues with his reckless and irresponsible utterances on a fatally flawed report, we will hold him personally accountable for any closure on the completion of capital projects." He referred to the construction of the Enighed Pond commercial port and cargo dock on St. John and the related Red Hook marine terminal on St. Thomas.
Mapp also sought to discredit the input of Francis, cited repeatedly in the draft report. According to the document, Francis "concurred with the proposed recommendations and stated that the report accurately represented conditions" at the PFA during the period covered by the audit. Despite attempts by Francis "to alert responsible government officials of the instances of non-compliance with tax-related constraints on the use of bond proceeds, his warnings were essentially ignored," the report states.
On Jan. 30, the Legislature voted to award Francis the V.I. Medal of Honor and on Feb. 28, the PFA board voted to hire him back as a "transitory adviser" to what was then expected to be two persons who would assume his duties, as the board had decided to hire separate directors of finance and of administration. Francis, however, never signed the offered contract, and on March 22, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who chars the PFA board, announced that he had approved the contracting of former senator and lieutenant governor Kenneth Mapp to hold both positions, as Francis had done.
Berry said Mapp had every opportunity to comment on the report, starting with the preliminary draft sent to him on July 10, then a scheduled Aug. 6 meeting, followed by another on Aug. 13. She said Mapp "repeatedly failed to meet with van Beverhoudt for the scheduled appointments. At the same time, van Beverhoudt contacted Mr. Francis, who concurred with the report."
She continued: "Here we have a man of unimpeachable integrity [van Beverhoudt], who, in the course of doing his job, conducts the first audit of the PFA ever … In so doing, he brings to light numerous instances of apparent bond-proceeds mismanagement totaling millions of dollars."
Berry said she felt the community would be better served if the audit process were allowed to take its course, with government officials refraining from attempting to disguise the issues by attacking the credibility of others. The latter course, she said, only "adds to the perception of attempting to blanket the issue with a smokescreen, obviously forgetting the fact that PricewaterhouseCoopers audits the PFA financial statements annually. Therefore, the funding can be collaborated with the draft audit report."
Van Beverhoudt was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. A staff member in his office said the PFA audit report is in the final stages, but a date for publication has not been confirmed.
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