Usually, when a chief financial officer is in the news, you’re talking crisis.
That’s when things kind of blew up at Borough Hall, with the disclosure that freshly-resigned CFO Terrence Whalen hadn’t exactly been running the tightest ship, in bookkeeping terms.
No fraud was ever alleged. But checks were being deposited into the wrong accounts, according to outside auditor David Kaplan. Accounts weren’t being balanced. Refunds from developers’ escrow accounts were being made in duplicate.
The fallout from the sloppiness was real, as borough taxpayers took a hit in the form of a four-cents-per-$100 of property value tax increase for 2006-2007, all of it attributable to poor recordkeeping, officials said.
There was political fallout, too. Then-Mayor Ed McKenna blamed Councilman John Curley, who was head of the council’s finance committee, for failure to keep an eye on Whalen’s operation. McKenna bounced Curley from the high-profile assignment, and in a heated exchange, Curley uttered his infamous Why don’t you just take me down to Broad Street and hang me? retort. It all became fodder for last year’s mayoral race, which Curley lost to now-Mayor Pasquale Menna.
Well, what a different story 10 months can make, as evidence by the lovefest that erupted at last night’s council meeting for new CFO Frank Mason and his five-person crew of green eyeshades.