The questions arising from Dixon, where the city comptroller is accused of stealing $30 million from city coffers, are how could it happen, and how can it be prevented. Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association says all governments should have more than one person in charge of writing checks and maintaining the books.
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“There is no more important job in government than to safeguard our tax dollars. That should be the No. 1 priority of public officials, so no one individual should be responsible for the flow of money in any unit of government,” he said. Shaw says oversight must come from someone with knowledge of government accounting and enough independence to blow the whistle if need be. In Dixon, it was a subordinate who filled in while the suspect was on vacation who noticed the alleged improprieties. Shaw says depending on a subordinate to tell on the boss is not a good idea. Shaw also says there is an extent to which smaller communities are susceptible to fraud, because more people know each other and are therefore more trusting of the people they know. The mayor of Dixon is promising new measures to protect the city’s funds.