Whether one regards him as a watch dog or a crank, Brainerd City Council member Bob Olson has been the most vocal critic of the city’s finance department for years.
Brainerd Dispatch news stories going back to at least 2005, document Olson’s criticisms of budget numbers and estimations from that office. Theresa Goble, the city’s longtime finance director, recently agreed to continue serving as interim city administrator as long as a new person was named finance director and another staff position was back-filled.
The council, most likely grateful that it had Goble to step into the interim city administrator post vacated by Dan Vogt, recently, voted 6-1 last week to keep her in the interim post and make the requested staffing changes in that office. Olson cast the sole dissenting vote and his reason was surprising given his long-standing criticism of the work of both Vogt and Goble.
“Theresa (Goble) has done a fine job as interim city administrator and as finance director,” Olson said. “But I strongly disapprove the idea of spending more of the citizens’ tax dollars to have an administrative specialist when it’s not needed.”
Olson’s words of praise for Goble’s work lack credibility given his history of pouncing on any mistake that he’s discovered in the complicated process of putting together a budget. As recently as Aug. 7 an entire special council meeting was conducted at the request of Olson to review city finances. At that meeting he presented his own 75-page report of financial information and complained of “inaccurate information” provided by the finance department.
Now, if one is to believe the alderman, Goble is doing a fine job as interim city administrator and finance director.
The council as a whole has been considerably more supportive of Goble. They listened to Olson’s concern and to the response of Goble and staff and of the city’s auditor and later unanimously passed a motion noting that all funds were accounted for and the discussion on the matter was closed.
“People of Brainerd, your city funds are well accounted for,” Brainerd City Council President Mary Koep said at the time. “Bills are paid on time and fund balances are healthy and there is no cause for concern as a result of Olson’s findings.”
Olson’s critique of Goble’s work, it seems, depends upon how it would suit the point he’s making.