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Hat tip to the Reader today for a little scoop that fits right in with Library Fortnight. Matt Potter paid attention to the July 9 audit committee meeting and heard Interim Internal Auditor Kyle Elser tell the committee that he was auditing the San Diego Library Foundation.

I pulled up the video and watched the whole presentation here. Elser said the foundation was being audited as the result of a complaint somebody made to the city’s anonymous hotline.

Elser showed, and read through, a PowerPoint slide talking about the mission and extent of the probe. The slide looked like this.

Library Foundation Audit

The purpose of the audit:

  • Evaluate the internal controls and accountability for library donations
  • Determine compliance with the MOU between the City and the Library Foundation.

— Audit recommendations will be made to help strengthen internal controls over library donations.

— Fieldwork is nearly completed.

— A copy of the audit report will be provided to the Audit Committee.

Elser made sure to throw this statement in as well:

“To date, on all to the testing we’ve done, we have found no indication of any fraudulent activity,” he said. Elser said the audit had been delayed while his office worked on a report about the city’s disclosures regarding water and sewer rate changes.

The library foundation is charged with raising the large philanthropic donations required to build the new main library and construct the “finest library system” in the country. It started with a $1 million grant from the city of San Diego in 2001.

If the interim auditor plans to make recommendations to help strengthen internal controls over library donations, that implicitly means those controls weren’t strong enough.

Regardless, the fact is that exactly six years after it was formed, the San Diego Library Foundation has only raised $3 million. The U-T’s David Copley accounts for $2 million of that. The Hervey Family — whose donations were largely responsible for the construction of the Point Loma branch library (which is very nice) — pledged $1 million.

Given Copley’s passionate support for the new main library and the Hervey family’s dedication to the library system, those seem like pretty easy collections. If anything, the foundation probably should have gotten more from Copley. His newspaper, after all, called upon San Diego’s wealthy to follow Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s lead in Seattle and give $20 million each to the new library. It would be just a bit hypocritical for Copley, easily one of the wealthiest of San Diegans, to call upon his brethren to give 10 times more to the new library than he’s willing to give.

But I digress. I suppose Library Fortnight can’t end without doing our best to find out what has happened to the $1 million the city gave the Library Foundation.

SCOTT LEWIS

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