More often than not, nobody in city government with power to act on the audit recommendations takes them seriously except the comptroller and his auditors.
To prove the point, last month in an audit of the City Commissioners' office that he chaired before becoming controller, Vignola reported that the warehouse where the city stores more than 3,500 voting machines is in terrible shape.
"The warehouse has substantial maintenance problems including leaking steam pipes and roof, broken windows, lack of heat, asbestos and electrical problems," the audit emphasized.
" . . . the machines are seriously and repeatedly damaged by water from big holes in the roof, bursting pipes, and cold due to lack of heat in the winter. Electrical problems result from water accumulating in the flourescent
"Asbestos in the warehouse may cause employees' health claims.
"If a heavy rainstorm occurs shortly before an election, it could make an election impossible. The damages, if this should happen, cannot be estimated.
" . . . The commissioners desperately need to move the warehouse to a better-maintained location."
Do they ever! Absolutely nothing in Vignola's description of the warehouse was new or overstated.
Harken back to the City Charter change election in November 1978 and the May 1979 primary when machine breakdowns were a major factor in threatening the integrity of the voting. There were howls of criticism and charges of fraud, which were not substantiated by an independent investigation ordered by the U.S. District Court.
That the machines were stored in the filthy, leaking, poorly lighted warehouse was not the only reason so many fouled up. The federal probe and a later investigation ordered by a three-judge panel of Common Pleas Court found other reasons as well: Lack of maintenance, sloppy final checkout of the machines and incompetent technical support on Election Day.
But, here's what the Common Pleas Court investigators had to say about the warehouse in 1979:
"The voting machines are housed year round in a warehouse that is completely unfit for the purpose. The roof leaks, and unsealed concrete floors continually give off a fine dust which permeates and seriously damages the intricate workings of the voting machines.
"This causes the disenfranchisement of voters, inasmuch as machines break down on Election Day more often than necessary. Moreover the economic cost to the city is tremendous: The useful life of the voting machines has been shortened by the conditions under which they have been kept."
A year later the three judges - Marvin R. Halbert, Lawrence Prattis and Paul Silverstein - in their final report said the city should terminate its lease on the warehouse and "obtain a more modern, well-lighted, waterproof, dust-free environment" for storing the machines.
Since those days there have been some strides made in improving the city's creaky election system. All elections since the 1979 primary have been relatively free of trouble. There has been nothing to compare to the machine breakdowns in the charter-change election.
But the warehouse is, if anything, in worse shape and remains a potential source of real trouble, as Vignola warned.
The city shelled out $639,000 last year for rent, heat and electricity and will pay about that amount again this year.
In 1977, City Commission chairwoman Margaret Tartaglione recommended that the city build a one-story warehouse. If it had, the city would have saved big bucks as the cost at that time was estimated at about $1.5 million.
Or the city could have leased another warehouse. Tartaglione says the commissioners have been scurrying around inspecting dozens of buildings, but haven't found one suitable that's available.
So, after all these years, nothing has been done about the warehouse and in the final analysis the ball remains where it has always been bouncing - between the mayor's office and the chambers of City Council.