Council Holds Back on Auditor Congrats 

click to enlarge Dalal

Ash Daniel

Dalal

Richmond Auditor Umesh Dalal's office was named one of the 11 best such operations in North America last month, but not everyone at City Hall was impressed.

When City Council President Charles Samuels forwarded an announcement about the award to his colleagues, he asked if anyone objected to a news release "applauding the auditor's office for this honor."

Councilwoman Michelle Mosby did, according to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The auditor's office works directly under City Council, and because of Mosby's objection, council didn't announce the award from the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Dalal's office has released a number of high-profile audits in the past several years, including two that probed mismanagement of the city's scandal-plagued Social Services Department. Another investigated the botched implementation of an $18 million computer system. None has shed an especially positive light on the administration of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.

A lawyer for Byron Marshall, the mayor's chief administrative officer, sent a letter Monday to Dalal criticizing and challenging his findings in an audit that concluded Marshall had improperly attempted to give $400,000 in additional retirement benefits to one of his outgoing deputies, Sharon Judkins. Judkins has filed a lawsuit against Dalal alleging defamation.

Mosby has aligned herself politically with the mayor, supporting his major initiatives since her election two years ago. Last week she was the only council member to join him on FedEx Field before the Redskins' preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, during which the city was recognized as host of the team's training camp.

In her email to Samuels, Mosby doesn't elaborate on her objections to announcing Dalal's award. But in response to questions from Style, she refers to internal issues.

When the award was announced, she says, the city had just started looking into high turnover in the auditor's office. "I thought we needed to take a step back before" announcing any awards, Mosby says.

Dalal didn't respond to a request for comment.

At City Council's most recent meeting in July, which took place four days after Mosby signaled her objections to disseminating news of the Audit Department's award, council held a closed session with Dalal. Council members say it dealt with employee turnover in the 15-person department.

Neither Mosby nor Samuels would elaborate on the meeting. Samuels says he can't discuss personnel issues. Mosby says she plans to look into the issue more next month.

A review of the Richmond auditor's office issued Aug. 15 completed by outside auditors found Dalal's office complies with national standards.

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