Thursday, November 29, 2007
Devils In the Detailed Billings?
The Politico bombshell of Rudy Giuliani's disguised security costs will undoubtedly be an interesting topic -- particularly in New York -- for a while.
However, one thing jumped out that may be nothing. It could also be just an odd coincidence -- or evidence that someone has a deliciously evil sense of humor.
Consider what is at the heart of this story -- the suggestion that the costs of Giuliani's security detail were buried in the budgets of various city agencies to hide the fact that the mayor was visiting his mistress in the Hamptons. So, of all the possible city agencies where these billings could be hidden, which ones were selected?
The billing practices, however, drew formal attention on Jan. 24, 2002, when Thompson, the city comptroller, wrote the newly elected mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a confidential letter.
One of his auditors, he wrote, had stumbled upon the unexplained travel expenses during a routine audit of the Loft Board, a tiny branch of city government that regulates certain apartments.
Broadening the inquiry, the comptroller wrote, auditors found similar expenses at a range of other unlikely agencies: $10,054 billed to the Office for People With Disabilities and $29,757 to the Procurement Policy Board.
The next year, yet another obscure department, the Assigned Counsel Administrative Office, was billed around $400,000 for travel.
One security billing is hidden in the budget of "The Loft Board...that regulates certain apartments" (like -- a hideaway apartment?)
Another security billing is buried in the budget of "the Procurement Policy Board." Now, the word "procurement" has a specific meaning in the context of government -- related to purchasing and contracting. However, there is also another earthier meaning -- as in procurer is another word for pimp.
And another billing is charged to the budget of "the Assigned Counsel Administrative Office." That is pretty straightforward. Though "assigned" isn't too far from the word "assignation" -- meaning a surreptious romantic liaison.
Now, I candidly admit that I can have a dirty mind -- and all readers of this blog know of my love for puns and word play. But this doesn't seem like that much of a stretch. (And, yeah, the disabilities office doesn't quite fit the theory.)
Of course, it will be interesting to see where the other billings were buried. It will also be interesting to learn exactly who was responsible for deciding which account a given billing would be charged to -- and what the criteria was. Was it random -- or was someone sending a subtle message with some "creative" accounting?