City Commission votes to abolish Oversight and Audit Committee

December 5, 2018

A contentious public work session in advance of Tuesday’s regular Brownsville City Commission meeting turned even more contentious over an agenda item to abolish an Audit & Oversight Committee that Commissioner Ben Neece said details, though the work of an independent auditor, official misdeeds.

Neece argued that abolishing the committee, an item placed on Monday’s agenda by commissioners Ricardo Longoria Jr. and Joel Munguia, would serve to bury the audit report, which contains, among other things, further details about the handling of improprieties surrounding city ambulance services uncovered by a different, internal audit committee last year, according to Neece.

The commission voted 4-3 to abolish Neece’s audit committee, with commissioners Cesar de Leon and Jessica Tetreau joining Longoria and Munguia in approving the measure.

Neece and Commissioner Rose Gowen joined Mayor Tony Martinez in voting against the measure. Those voting to abolish the audit committee argued that, although it was requested by former city manager Charlie Cabler, who resigned in the wake of the emergency services scandal, the audit committee investigation under Neece was conducted improperly.

The vote to abolish the audit committee followed a lengthy statement by Neece, which he read to the end despite commissioners’ repeated demands that he yield the floor. In the statement, Neece asserted that allowing the report’s release would be in keeping with good governance, while preventing its release would effectively conceal corruption by city officials.

“Remember, when it’s time to vote, who stood up for transparency, accountability and good governance and who tried to extinguish it,” Neece said.

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