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City Hall critic booted from audit committee after clerical error

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: January 23, 2014 - 1:18 PM

One of City Hall's most outspoken critics has been booted from the city's audit committee after staff discovered that her 2013 reappointment was never made official.

Stephanie Woodruff, the audit committee's former vice chair, ran for mayor last year and until recently has been embroiled in a lawsuit over development next to the Vikings stadium.

The software executive was one of the most active members of the six-person audit committee, which oversees the city's watchdog, arranging annual audit plans and frequently peppering the city's (recently departed) internal auditor with questions.

Woodruff served as Mayor R.T. Rybak's appointee, with her initial three-year term expiring in January 2013. At the time, mayoral aide Andy Holmaas sent an e-mail to committee chair Diane Hofstede that "the Mayor would like to proceed with reappointing Stephanie Woodruff to the Audit Committee."

But a council committee coordinator informed Woodruff last week that "unfortunately it seems the Mayor’s office did not follow through with anything official about your reappointment." Darrell Ellsworth, the council's citizen appointee, was also never officially re-appointed. Reappointments would have guaranteed their terms through 2016.

“The fact that they didn’t do something very simple and follow protocol is in my mind appalling," Woodruff said. "It just demonstrates that they don’t see the audit committee as a valuable function. How can you miss something like that? That’s basic.”

City Clerk Casey Carl said Woodruff was functioning as a member in 2013 because members serve until they are replaced -- but was not official. Given that a new committee has now been formed (minus two citizen members), Carl recently sent Woodruff and Ellsworth letters saying their terms have expired.

Carl said that despite Holmaas' e-mail, the mayor's office never filed the appropriate paperwork with the clerk's office. "The clock ran out on her appointment -- the mayor didn't do anything about it," Carl said, adding that "until [Mayor Betsy Hodges] acts, that seat is technically vacant."

Hodges' chief of staff John Stiles said the mayor does not yet know who she will appoint to the committee.

The change comes at a crucial time for auditing at City Hall, which was reformed in 2009 after an outside review concluded the city's auditing was woefully inadequate. Council President Barb Johnson formed a working group Thursday to reconsider the city's auditing structure.

Some -- including Woodruff -- have called for outsourcing more audits to outside companies. Johnson said that she would also like to retain an internal auditor employed by the city, however.

The Woodruff situation is somewhat reminiscient of a well-known scene from the film Office Space. Check that out below:

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