Saying that your editorial of July 23 was off the mark would be an understatement.

Saying that your editorial of July 23 was off the mark would be an understatement.

You parrot Mayor Nick Valentine's charge that I have "set the record for getting rid of more department heads in six months." You cite the dismissal of former City Manager McGrane, who, by the way, was terminated by a majority vote of the City Council and not by my sole authority.

You cite the resignation of the current interim city manager as being because I criticized him publicly. If every public official was so thin-skinned, there would be no one left in government. If he impedes my ability to serve and repeated attempts to correct this situation are to no avail, then it is my responsibility to let the people know that their voice is being silenced. It's called open government.

Two department heads left, both of whom were the head of Economic Development. One retired and the other resigned. The Newburgh IDA had requested an outside audit of past records in an attempt to become certified. The IDA received the results in 2009. The audit report concludes that they were unable to perform a proper audit because no one from Economic Development would cooperate. The city failed to provide supporting documentation and failed to keep scheduled appointments.

Without proper cooperation from the city, the auditors reported that financial statements could be significantly misstated because of errors, irregularities, fraud or misappropriation. It was this issue of stonewalling the certification of the IDA, the agency that ultimately creates jobs here, that I wanted on the agenda for discussion. Douglas repeatedly ignored my requests, saying that he works for the majority of the Council, not five individuals. In addition, phone calls and e-mails went unanswered.

The mismanagement of the courthouse project mostly predated my tenure. In the earlier years with Jean-Ann McGrane as manager, Valentine and the Council voted to hire a consultant at a considerable rate to advise them. After receiving massive amounts of taxpayer money, his advice was to have a developer build the courthouse, lease it to the city, have the city pay for all insurance and remediation costs, and then have the city buy it back after 20 years. Then the consultant brazenly suggested that he be the developer.

Valentine and McGrane thought this was just peachy for the taxpayers. Thankfully, former City Councilman Sal Cracolici recognized the potential financial disaster and called on the state comptroller for oversight and the plan was halted. In 2008, repeated efforts to provide oversight of this project were stonewalled by McGrane. I contacted the state comptroller's office to request an audit of the project. The results were a blistering condemnation of management practices, including numerous cost overruns. This is the end result when people with no former city manager experience try to do the job.

The list of issues that predate my tenure goes on and on. Multiple audits up to and including the HUD audit were scathing. You bemoan not having experienced city managers to prepare our budget. News flash: We haven't had one in years.

Obviously you think that the City of Newburgh became a wonderland under the reign of Valentine and McGrane. I assure you, most people living in Newburgh would vehemently disagree with that assessment. Read your own paper and the various audits, listen to the people at Council meetings — at least then you would have a substantiated opinion.

The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who would be their public servants. Oversight and accountability are what I promised, and that is what I deliver. The future is tough stuff to forecast, but documenting the past is not. Repeating past mistakes and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Christine M. Bello is a councilwoman in the City of Newburgh.