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Employees Want Answers After Audit

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- A room packed with employees of the 6th Judicial district on Friday afternoon waited for answers.

Staff has questions for board members also, and we never really have had an opportunity to share our opinions or share our questions, one staff member said. This audit just validates what staff has had questions about for a good number of years.

Those employees will have to wait a little longer.

They want to have some dialogue with the board, and so we'll figure out a mechanism for that to happen, said Bruce Vander Sanden, director of the 6th district.

Until then, the board is focusing on the 'what's next' question.

Vander Sanden says they have to look at several key areas - chief among them - the relationship with the Community Corrections Improvement Association, or CCIA.

Those lines and responsibilities must be much more clearly defined, said. Steve Ovel, CCIA Board president.

The state audit says the nonprofit benefited from taxpayer dollars, from free rent to free phones.

It was something that should have never happened, it was never intended for the sixth district to pay for those cell phones, Vander Sanden told the board.

CCIA Board president Steve Ovel says these problems precede most people in the room on Friday.

Those kind of relationships have been in place for many years, [without] anyone questioning those relationships, Ovel said.

He says that will now change - now you'll get a complete separation of the two entities.

Not co-located or even in close proximity.

There will be a separation of duties as well - with district staff no longer overseeing CCIA programs.

Even though the audit defines the situation as an improper use of funds, Ovel claims the money was never wasted.

From our perspective, there wasn't the type of abuse that was being put forth in the report, Ovel said. Obviously the auditor has to look at that in a black and white way, and we respect that.

Vander Sanden says employees will get a chance to speak at so called 'district dialogues' next week.

The district says many of the state's recommendations are already in place. They are preparing to send a summary of their response to the recommendations soon.
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