Howie Hawkins, the Green candidate for Syracuse City Auditor, said today that the incumbent auditor, Marty Masterpole, is under-producing, has not hired professionally qualified staff, and is not an acting as an independent watchdog.
“The main issue in this race is simple. Marty Masterpole is not doing the job. I will,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said that as a Green in a city where every elected official is a Democrat, “I will have the independence to provide the checks and balances the City Auditor is supposed to provide. I will conduct audits that some may not welcome by some, but they can help the Mayor, Council and city departments and agencies to do their jobs better,” he said.
Hawkins spoke in front in Syracuse City Hall with supporters and a banner featuring his campaign slogan: “Independent. Hard Working. Professional.”
“With all the problems Syracuse faces – from high poverty and struggling schools to failing infrastructure – we cannot afford to have elected officials who don't do their jobs,” Hawkins said.
“I know from a lifetime of working on construction sites and loading docks that you have to work hard and produce to keep your job. It angers me that I pay in property taxes about 10 percent of my income from unloading trucks at UPS and we have a City Auditor who squandering his $216,000 budget. I will work hard to meet the expectations spelled out in the city budget and the city charter for the City Auditor,” Hawkins said.
Recent city budgets have projected 8 financial audits and 3 special audits per year. Masterpole has produced only 4 audits per year since taking office in 2012. The previous auditor, Phil LaTessa, produced up to 14 audits per year.
“My first priorities will be to do the audits expected by the city budget, to hire a professionally qualified Deputy City Auditor, and to hire the full staff provided by the city budget,” Hawkins said.
The city budget provides for a staff of four plus a summer intern. Masterpole has only hired three staff and resorted to paying consultants to help with some of his audits.
Hawkins noted that the city charter requires a Deputy City Auditor who is a Certified Public Accountant or a professional with at least three years experience in municipal auditing.
“Masterpole hired a crony from Tipp Hill as deputy auditor who had been an insurance company customer services representative, not an auditor,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said that upon taking office Masterpole eliminated the $56,000 a year position of an 11-year supervisory civil service auditor and offered to re-hire her as an entry level auditor at $43,000, which she refused. Lacking qualifications and institutional knowledge on staff, Hawkins said, Masterpole then hired former Syracuse deputy mayor Ken Mokryzcki as a consultant to complete a health plans audit.
“When Masterpole pushed out a senior civil service auditor, he assaulted labor rights as well as the professional capacities and institutional knowledge of the City Auditors' Office,” Hawkins said.
The City Auditor's race is a two-way race between a Democrat, Marty Masterpole, and a Green, Howie Hawkins. No Republican is running.
Hawkins' nearly 5 percent vote as the Green candidate for Governor in 2014 moved the Green Party up to Row D from Row F on the ballot, jumping over the Working Families and Independence lines. Hawkins will appear second on the ballot after Masterpole on the Democrats' Row A. The Republicans' Row B and Conservatives' Row C will be blank.