The Des Moines City Councilman who led the board that oversaw a central Iowa job training program says he raised concerns about the amount of money coming in for salaries, but did not figure out the program’s executive director was pulling in a six-figure salary.
Des Moines City Councilman Archie Brooks says he never kept a running tally of salary and bonuses to determine the total compensation for the C-E-O of the Central Iowa Employment and Job Training Consortium. In the voluntary position I was in, I did not do the due diligence that I should have. I have admitted that and I’m, you know, ashamed of that,” Brooks says. “But that happened. You have trust in staff. You proceed on that.”
Brooks says he raised concerns at board meetings in July and October about the amount of money being spent on salaries, but didn’t find out what a state audit did — that Ramona Cunningham was making 360-thousand dollars. “There was never a running total,” Brooks says. “I expressed my concern to her when I did find out the total that that was an exorbitant number.”
Brooks says the board of local elected officials from the eight central Iowa counties the oversaw the program were too complacent. “Basically, my biggest frustration was that during the monthly meetings that we would show up at 12, they would have a half-hour lunch and then we’d have a meeting that maybe would last 10 to 15 minutes,” Brooks says. “(There was a) lack of participation or discussion or involvement by all of the board.”
Brooks suffered a stroke nine months ago, but Brooks says he was never incapacitated. Brooks says a reporter asked him if the stroke he had last June had impaired him, and Brooks says he replied that he had lost mobility in his left leg and suffered some memory loss. “I did state that that (stroke) had no reason for anything that took place,” Brooks says.
Brooks made his comments this (Wednesday) morning during his second appearance before the Legislative Oversight Committee. During testimony Tuesday, Brooks said he had gone on one date with Ramona Cunningham several years ago when he had separated from his wife. Brooks added more detail today. “I was asked if I ever had a social (relationship) or dinners (with Cunningham) and I said ‘Yes’ and I did use the word date, but it was a dinner and her daughter and her son-in-law attended that,” Brooks says. “So it was not just me and Ms. Cunningham.”
The panel is probing problems in the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium that were identified in a state audit, problems that are now being investigated by state and federal authorities, too.