I refer to auditors, and I all but worship them. You see, they try to keep the vampires in check and preserve that portion of my life blood not legally available for theft by the politicians and their familiars in the bureaucracy.
The latest instance from these parts has some officials down in southeast Iowa scurrying to come up with proposals for prison reform -- nice buffet meals, thick mattresses, etc. They might actually get it done, being as they are employees of the Department of Corrections, our state jailer.
State Auditor Mary Mosiman has ferreted out close to $800,000 in "improper expenditures " in one of those godawful "public-private partnerships." The actual bite is higher because some documents went missing before Mary's militia knocked on the door. How much higher we don't know, but I always apply a rule of thumb: Double reported theft to approach the actual total.
The honey dipping apparently began when some mid-level DOC nabobs decided to create, or foster, a not-for-profit 501c3 to help it administer its community corrections programs. My God how the money rolled in, from the state, the feds, and other sources. The state guys and their private-sector pals set up a cozy interlocking directorate and started an energetic game of catch. Bundles of money flew around the offices, no one worrying overmuch about who had the surest fielder's glove.
Sure enough, after about four years their budget started showing unexplained shortfalls. They could hide them for a while (Toss the money faster, Homer!) and succeeded in getting a c. $600,000 special appropriation from the legislature. That raised some eyebrows. Then, get this, one of the local boss men quickly went back to Des Moines for another $800,000. (Once I heard of a guy who left his driver's license on the counter of a Stop 'n' Rob that he stopped and robbed.)
To much even for Des Moines, the highest levels called Mary and said sic 'em.
Having sicced, Mary was good enough to turn the file (pdf) over to the attorney general's office. It would be nice if he does his job as well as she seems to do hers.
In fact, if I ever run across her, I think I'll give her a nice hug if she'll let me.