No written policy for Brown's 'Jeans Days'

January 22, 2010 3:27:35 PM PST
Dorothy Brown tried to put to rest questions about how money from the 'Jeans Day' collections was spent- but many remain unanswered.After her election as circuit clerk in 2000, Brown says she discontinued the office practice of holding "Jeans Days." But she brought it back because, she says, her employees begged her to.

Last year, employees in the office kicked in nearly $60,000 to wear blue jeans to work on selected days. Brown argues that the money goes to laudable causes, but her attempt - in an hour-long news conference Friday - to explain how the program's run, left some questions unanswered.

"It's unfortunate that this innocent practice that helps so many causes is being maligned and subverted by some members of the media," said Circuit Court Clerk Brown.

Dorothy Brown says the Jeans Day practice in her office is voluntary, legal, fully accounted for. Her office prepared a PowerPoint presentation showing some of the beneficiaries of Jeans Day contributions - hurricane relief, the United Negro college fund, the Red Cross. She said $2,800 went to a clerk's employee whose home was destroyed by fire.

"I was able to establish a household with money collected from Jeans Day, and I'd like to thank everyone who participated," said Marie Norred, Circuit Clerk employee.

But there is apparently no written policy on how Jeans Day is administered in the clerk's office. And, when asked how much money Jeans Day produced last year, Brown was not immediately able to answer.

"For the Jeans Day program, we would have to add it up," said Brown.

Brown's staff says there were at least 22 scheduled Jeans Days last year, where employees pay two bucks and get to wear blue jeans, and that the money from all the Jeans Days goes into three funds - a picnic fund, an employee of the year fund, and a benevolence fund.

General records released by Brown Friday show - by ABC7's count - that those three funds total over $58,000 - all blue jean money collected from employees.

"Some write on the envelope -- how much was collected," said Wasiu Fashina, chief financial officer of the clerk's office.

The cash is put in envelopes turned over to the clerk's chief financial officer who says it's counted, cataloged and promptly deposited. But the clerk couldn't say whether benevolence fund has a charitable listing.

"We're just the intermediary to collect the funds and pay the expenses. It's just like a Christmas party that people have," said Brown.

Brown was on WVON Friday morning with her three primary opponents - each of whom suggested yesterday that the jeans fund issue raises questions about administrative ability. When asked if she'd reject the notion of sloppy management she replied, "Oh, absolutely," said Brown, "absolutely. This is properly controlled."

Brown says the Jeans Day practice has proper oversight and adequate controls are in place. Her staffers say there were additional Jean Days last year beyond the 22 that were scheduled, but they couldn't say exactly how many more nor provide explanations about some specific contributions.

When asked if she intends to continue the program - as is - Brown said she'd ask her employees.