Chapman Questions Nadalini Over Audit Error



An error in a pension report rose to a criticism of Sarasota charter official from an outgoing commissioner Monday night. Commissioner Susan Chapman says the problems highlight continued problems with a hostile work environment under City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini.

Chapman drew attention to a $30-million bookkeeping oversight in audits of the city’s pension plans. While noting that the problem was in record-keeping—the error does not cost the city anything and the $30 million remains in place—she says the matter incites a lack of confidence in city government. “What is the potential negative impact of this technical weakness?,” Chapman said at a Monday meeting. “How is this related to high turnover in pension administration? How does it relate to repeated complaints about a hostile work environment?”

Nadalini says the mistake has been corrected and measures have been put in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. She fervently denied any accusations of hostility in her offices. “Nobody in my office has been treated in an illegal or harassing or hostile manner or in a discriminatory manner,” she said Monday. “All I expect of employees in the City Auditor and Clerk’s office is for them to work hard and be assured if in fact there are problems or concerns, they bring them to my attention.”

The pension employee responsible for the audit is on leave right now, Nadalini says.

The problem marked the most recent point of tension between Nadalini and Chapman. The commissioner more than two years ago ago pushed for the city’s information technology department to be moved out from Nadalini’s control and under City Manager Tom Barwin. That department a few years prior had been moved under Nadalini’s auspices during an investigation into IT practices under former city manager Bob Bartolotta.

Responses to the audit varied among commissioners. Mayor Willie Shaw stressed that the bookkeeping error seemed to have little long-term consequence. “No funding was lost, no monies were lost,” he says, suggesting the problem was not systemic or at an executive level but with an individual working in the office. But Commissioner Suzanne Atwell said she worried about morale and turnover within the office.

Chapman recently lost a bid for re-election and will leave the commission in May, but says she’d like questions answered. “Even though I'm the lamest of lame ducks, I still have a fiduciary responsibility,” she says.

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