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Auditor general's concert loan report delayed a week

Halifax council won't be embarrassed in front of visiting municipal officials.

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City auditor general Larry Munroe and his staff finished writing their report on the concert loan scandal last week, but it still is not public.

Typically, Munroe makes his reports public via his website, without any prior direction or communication with politicians. That's the point of his office, of course: to provide an independent examination of city finances and processes.

So why isn't Munroe's report public?

As I understand it, Munroe was about to make the report public last week, but then reconsidered his timing. It turns out that back in March, when city council first heard of the improper loans to concert promoter Harold MacKay, councillor Gloria McCluskey had asked Munroe to bring his report "direct to council." McCluskey was trying to expedite the process---past reports went to the council's audit committee before winding their way to council, even though Munroe made them public in parallel on the website. But Munroe apparently thinks that he agreed to bring the concert loan report first to council, before making it public. Or rather, his plan is to deliver the report to council in open session, in front of the public, the TV cameras, the reporters, the Twitterers, etc.

It turns out that this week the regularly scheduled Tuesday council meeting was cancelled, because councillors will be tied up at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, happening in Halifax Friday through Monday. (The regular meeting would have been May 31, and the FCM conference runs June 3-6.) I'm told that when Munroe last week decided he was going to make the report public at a council meeting, he asked mayor Peter Kelly to schedule a special meeting for that purpose, but Kelly declined to do so.

My read on this is that Kelly didn't want to be embarrassed before the visiting delegates by what will no doubt be several days of media coverage after Munroe releases his report. So, he's managed to delay the release of the report until after the delegates leave.

I'd note that when Harold MacKay met with the mayor about the Black Eyed Peas concert, a cheque for $400,000 was cut to MacKay about four hours later. But when the auditor general asks for the mayor to schedule a release of a report, it takes two weeks to get it scheduled.

For The Coast's complete coverage of the Common concert financing scandal, click here.

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