Government audits can make for compelling reads. The way they come into being, however, is tediously bureaucratic—eternal revisions, reviews and obligatory rebuttals.
Not so with a pending Harvey M. Rose Associates report on Santa Clara County’s heavily scrutinized jails, which have gone through an unbroken succession of accountability probes and lawsuits since three correctional deputies murdered mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree in 2015. In a Jan. 16 email obtained by Fly, Sheriff Laurie Smith goes off on Harvey Rose principal Cheryl Solov, slamming her latest draft as chock full of “drivel” and “knowingly misleading, dishonest and uninformed statements.”
Solov declined to comment on the record until she gets the go-ahead from a county finance official. But she affirmed that the jails audit has taken longer than anticipated. It was originally part of the county’s 2017-to-18 fiscal year work plan and there’s still no clear estimate for when it’ll be released to public view.
In her letter to Harvey Rose auditors, Smith demands all the source material they used, the documentation, surveys, recordings and interview notes. If the government auditing firm refuses to relinquish all of the above, she wrote, they should consider the communique a formal California Public Records Act Request.
“During your audit we provided you with documented ‘proof’ of our assertions because you were unwilling to trust any of our statements,” Smith wrote in her three-paragraph screed. “We request the same in return.”
The sheriff went on to question the firm’s qualifications to even review a jail system, and demanded several more months to go over whatever changes still need to be made on the already overdue draft. Once it’s ready—at this point, it’s looking like it’ll be in the next fiscal year’s work plan—it’s up to county Supervisor Dave Cortese, who chairs the Finance and Open Government Committee, to put on the public agenda.
The current iteration must be riveting, though, to inspire such rebuke. If anyone’s got a galley proof lying around, feel free to send it our way.