Councilor Gerard Hudpseth Responds to Backlash on New City Auditor Pick
The past of Denton’s new city auditor, Umesh Dalal, seems to be haunting city council after a nationwide search recently concluded. Dalal resigned last summer from his city auditor position in Richmond, Va. after accusations of “bullying” other employees.
An investigation into Dalal’s office found waste from high employee turnover associated with those Dalal worked with. The investigation also included allegations Dalal lied to employees and gave privileged information to the media. The resignation was claimed to be “mutual." He was given a $400 thousand severance package accounting for his unused vacation days and retirement.
“His tenacious approach to finding waste and abuse is outstanding, and that’s key to me,” said Councilor Gerard Hudspeth, District 1.
In 2011, Dalal was named "Most Feared Public Servant" as a critics pick in Style Weekly's Best of Richmond awards.
Richmond Councilor Reva Trammel, who was a supporter of Dalal, wasn't happy with the investigation into Dalal’s work. She said Dalal actually saved Richmond money by, “preventing inept and corrupt city officials from wasting tax money,” according to CBS 6 in Richmond.
The search for city auditor included 10 applicants and four finalists. Hudspeth said there is an entire process that includes written applications, video interviews, follow ups with subsequent information, and an in-person interview. He said they did talk with Dalal about the validity of the claims.
“Those aren’t secrets. We discuss those things. So, I’m presenting that we discuss those things in person, which I think carries more value as a decision maker and a vote in who we hire,” Hudspeth said. “I think the conversation with him and other council members brought out other points during that interview that carry more weight, frankly, than an allegation I’m not really firsthand involved in.”
Hudspeth said when the previous city auditor Craig Hametner was hired, nobody asked why he had left his previous job unexpectedly.
To Hudspeth, he said it seemed people aren’t willing to commend the council.
“Generally, I think there has been a growth on council and council management. And, I also think that growth has been ignored because people, because our citizens, haven’t been readily willing to give credit where credit is due or see past the previous councils.”
Hudspeth said the allegations deserve to be respected and looked into. But, at the end of the day, he said people are giving too much power to the first bad find on the internet – which does not tell the whole story.
“Instead of asking ‘Council, did you vet this person?’ It’s more ‘Hey, I found some bad stuff on the internet,” Hudspeth said. “It’s all secondhand information. I don’t think anyone has gone through the links and talked to anyone that would have raised those allegations. The question then to me would be, ‘Hey Council, did you discuss those things?’ which the answer is, yes.”
In his 11 years in Richmond, Dalal was known for his watchdog approach to uncover waste, mismanagement and fraud launching hundreds of investigations.
According to CBS 6, Dalal caught city employees at home during work hours, and found a key City Department employee overseeing the former mayor’s construction of a new church from within City Hall. He also revealed the Department of Social Services carelessness that put foster children at risk.
Dalal was chosen as internal auditor by Denton City Council during a special meeting on Jan. 16. He will begin Feb. 26. Hudspeth said he has high hopes for Dalal to find inconsistencies in advance to avoid investigations into waste and other issues. City of Denton's announcement of Dalal's hire is available online.
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