The Pocatello City Council has ordered an independent investigation by a local accounting firm to look into the issue of Pocatello crews paving roads in at least three area cities.
Road construction was done in Driggs, McCammon, and American Falls, and possibly Tetonia and Victor. Pocatello taxpayer dollars were used without knowledge of the city's attorney or city council.
Council President Craig Cooper said this is concerning not only because these cities had work done on the dime of Pocatello residents without possible compensation, but contractors who normally do work in the other cities may have been out those potential jobs.
Cooper said that's why the city council is eager to begin an investigation and will be soon, using an accounting firm the city regularly works with. He said an outside perspective is important to get down to the answers. The concerns are what work was done, how much it cost, if there was reimbursement and, perhaps most importantly, who authorized the work.
The mayor and city council spoke with the employees who did the work. Those employees said they were simply told to do the work.
"These employees were told, 'We're going here, we're doing this project,'” Cooper said. “They didn't question it because their boss told them to go do it."
Their boss is the street superintendent. Randy Ghezzi was in that position from 2010 until July, when he resigned to move to a new position in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our station asked Cooper if the main person they're looking at is the former street superintendent, and he said yes. However, that's only their direct boss.
The street superintendent reports to the public works director. That position was empty from at least April 2013 until May 2014 when Mike Jaglowski took over the position. That means timing is going to be a critical factor in finding the responsible party.
Was the work done during Randy Ghezzi's time? Or was it done with the new or former public works director? Or was it during the time when the public works position was vacant – when the street superintendent reported directly to the mayor?
"I trust him,” Cooper said of Mayor Brian Blad. “I support him, I still stand behind him and I don't have any reason to doubt him at this point."
Cooper said there are plenty of rumors flying around about this situation. He made it clear the Idaho's attorney general is not looking into this case. He said everyone will have to be patient until the investigation is completed.
"As council president I will guide that,” Cooper said. “We have to do due process, not rush it and be a lynch mob."
Our station has reached out to the cities of Driggs, American Falls and McCammon, but we have not received any communication back from them.