Whistleblower or failure to do the job?

Recently the Branson area has been shocked by the accusations of the city of Branson being involved in fraud and cover-ups made by Ruth Denham, who was the city’s Interim Director of the city’s Planning and Development Department until a new Director was hired this week. What’s amazing to an Ole Seagull is Denham’s sudden epiphany and concern for the basements in Buildings 2 and 3.

After all, it’s not like they were new news or that she had just found out about them. In fact, according the very documentation Denham submitted on March 30, Sam Proffer, a former employee who worked in the Planning and Development Department while she was its assistant director, put her and all city officials on notice.

According to Denham’s information, on July 23, 2007 Proffer “ emailed Paul Link and Terry Dody stating in part, ‘It is my recommendation that the City not sign any CAF [Community Acknowledgement Form] for any reason until all of the buildings down at the Landing have met the requirements of our own floodplain ordinances and the NFIP regulation.’” “Proffer went on to say, “If FEMA does approve the application, and certain buildings are non-compliant are removed from the floodplain due to insufficient or inaccurate information, the City will have participated in misleading  other regulatory agencies, lenders, tenants, etc.”

Now almost three years later Denham, who had the information since July 2007, steps forward accusing the city of fraud. In her March 30 memo she describes the situation as “a classic story of money, greed, and cover-up, all of which I fear as a citizen may land on the lap of the taxpayers of the City of Branson, including myself.”

The Ole Seagull knows it will be very unpopular to point out that Denham knew or certainly should have known about the situation involving the CAF since at least July of 2007. Yet, until recent days there has been no record of her making the appropriate city officials or FEMA aware of the fraud she is now allegedly so concerned about. As a citizen, the Ole Seagull doesn’t look at Denham as a courageous whistle blower standing up for what she believes in. What he sees is simply a government employee, charged with a responsibility that did not fulfill that responsibility.

In his opinion, Denham was the assistant director of the department and, if she believed Proffer was right, should have taken action on Proffer’s email. Yet, in spite of her position as “assistant director” of the department what does the record show, based on the information presented so far, nothing, absolutely nothing at all. Until now that is.

Whether one agrees with Proffer or not at least he had the courage to put his conviction in writing and take a stand. That’s more than can be said for the number two person in the department, the very person now accusing others of fraud and cover up, etc.

When a person points their finger at someone, they have at least three fingers pointing back at themselves. An Ole Seagull can only wonder if the process of selecting a new director of the Planning and Development Department had more to do with Denham’s recent accusations than her concern about what “may land on the lap of the taxpayer of the City of Branson.”

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