ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A News 4 Investigation of a city agency has triggered a call for top-down reviews, as claims of mismanagement, ghost employees and questionable timesheets were raised.
Thursday, Mayor Lyda Krewson announced she’s asking Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway to expedite a review of the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, better known as SLATE.
SLATE manages $10 million of taxpayer money annually, and dozens of current and former employees have blown the whistle on its operations, and the involvement of State Representative Bruce Franks.
In 2017 and early 2018, Franks was employed as a youth mentor for a subcontractor of SLATE, but a review of his timesheets found nearly 30 instances in seven months that raised questions about whether or not he was actually at work.
“We are going to figure that out, we are going to get to the bottom of that, that can't happen,” said Mayor Krewson.
Krewson said the youth mentor program was suspended the very day News conducted an interview with SLATE executive director Alice Prince.
Krewson said she may now be getting in touch with U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen.
“We need to find out, we need to know more, that's definitely a possibility. If federal dollars have been misspent and I don't know that they have, but if they have, certainly that would be a federal investigation and we would be in contact with Jeff Jensen's office,” she said.
Krewson said she thinks Prince has done a good job as head of SLATE, citing the more than 9,500 people helped by the agency last year.
But employees who spoke to News 4, all on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, question the numbers.
“It’s a lie and the people are not getting served,” one whistleblower said.
Some employees went as far as to call the numbers the mayor quoted a hoax.
Still, a number of current and former employees said they're grateful the many concerns they've had about SLATE are finally getting attention.
Dozens of current and former employees at SLATE claim the agency, which manages $10 million in taxpayer money, is terribly mismanaged and are calling for a top-down review.
Some St. Louis Aldermen insist they too plan to launch an investigation.
“If you did it and you're wrong, own up to it. It’s real simple,” said aldermen Joe Vaccaro.
SLATE receives millions in public funds, funneled through the State of Missouri, and state officials released a statement saying they've investigated multiple complaints about SLATE over the last year.
An official statement from the Department of Workforce Development appeared to indicate those inquiries would continue.
"The allegations released (yesterday) are deeply concerning and will prompt further investigation,” the satement read.
State Representative Franks originally said he would release a statement, but we have not received one.
He has been vocal on social media, however, calling for a boycott of KMOV, and blocking News 4 on Twitter.
Galloway's office later released the following statement:
Our office is currently reviewing all of St. Louis City government as a part of the audit of St. Louis City. Consistent with that process, our office will be completing an audit of the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment and plan to begin that work this year. As with any audit, we will consider alleged misuse of public dollars.