Linda Sutter

The article regarding the audit that cleared the fair is certainly worth celebrating, however, everybody jumping up and doing high fives should take heed. The audit was not balanced.

Popularity was not on my mind when investigating something of this magnitude and after the grand jury report came out in 2018, it was clear nobody would waste their time investigating the missing $921,920. But I took it on, spending my time and money on copies and an attorney, without hesitation. And for the most part, it was an accomplishment to put the effort in and see it through, good, bad, or indifferent.

When I began asking questions about the missing funds reported by the grand jury, I was met with complete resistance and hostility by CEO Kim Floyd. This prompted me to write a letter to John Quiroz the State Fair and Exposition finance director of California Fairs. When I didn’t get a response from him, I drove to Sacramento and met with his co-workers. I believe John Quiroz made his first appearance in Del Norte during the October 2018 fair board meeting.

I ordered 400 pages of canceled checks and another 300 pages of credit card statements from January 2017 to February 2018, including all agendas and meeting minutes, which in the beginning the fair board never kept and had to develop.

After looking through hundreds of pages and discovering how the money was getting spent, I requested from the California Department of Food Agriculture a copy of the accounting procedures manual. This is a 168-page manual where I took copious amounts of notes.

I immediately knew the Sacramento audit was properly conducted because the very notes I took were the very areas covered in the report. The audit report indeed identified alcohol and credit card purchases as issues.

The credit card policy for the state includes: DAA must design procedures and internal controls and obtain board approval; the control sheet must demonstrate issuance and limitations; it must be acknowledged in the minutes; there must be dollar limitations set; permissible purchases must be specified; conditions for use must be indicated; and necessity for credit card must be justified.

None of that was ever done by the 41st DAA. With two sitting CPA’s, Kevin Hartwick and Richard Taylor, on the 41st DAA board.

Floyd tried to paint the public with a light feathery picture regarding the issue of paid leave accounting. Fifty-six hours was paid totaling $1,500, and was never taken from the employees accrued leave balances. That my friends is fraud.

In fact, the state found the 41st DAA did not submit monthly attendance records for 15 out of 24 months. In addition to that, no signature by a supervisor or board member indicating whether the records were correct. In most state entities that is a cause for termination of your job.

In the audit report they used kind words to reflect out of compliance. According to California Government Codes 13400-13407, which state in pertinent parts, “Failure by a fair to comply with state laws directly violates Financial Integrity and State Managers Accountability.” I can only wonder if this audit and findings would be regarded as a reprimand and chance to correct things or if there will be action taken down the road.

If I could make a change for the better it would be to dismantle the special district. They are not needed and have failed in their ability to uphold their oath. The county should collect the funds entirely and be monitored by county auditor.

The 41st DAA should go before the Board of Supervisors like every other department head and request funds. This would be the safest most effective way to keep things in the future transparent. The CDFA report read all money was accounted for but the remainder of the report was not balanced and demonstrated serious issues.

In closing, I will not apologize for the fair board’s forcing me into requesting assistance from the state to get questions and concerns answered. This whole thing was caused due to the lack of transparency and unwillingness to provide the public with answers to their questions.

Linda Sutter lives in Crescent City.

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