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Officials at the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. have completely misunderstood the intentions of Mayor Jerry Sanders if they believe the appointment of a senior level financial officer at the agency will placate concerns the mayor has about the agency, mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz just told me.

The mayor has not changed his mind on the tenure of SEDC President Carolyn Y. Smith, Sainz said.

“This is not a question of if, it’s a question of how and when Ms. Smith is no longer going to be employed at that organization,” Sainz said. “Nobody should underestimate how strongly the mayor feels on this issue.”

At an SEDC committee meeting this afternoon, Chairman Artie M. “Chip” Owen said the agency had been in discussions with the Mayor’s Office and that it had been decided that the city should appoint a senior financial official to liaise with SEDC on budgetary issues.

Owen and Smith said they had yet to finalize details of such an appointment, but the committee voted to recommend such an appointment to the full SEDC board, which meets tomorrow.

Sainz said SEDC has ignored the fact that the appointment of a financial officer would be merely one step in a far greater reorganization of SEDC’s leadership sought by the mayor. The mayor wants nothing less than the replacement of Smith, Owen and eight of the nine SEDC board members, Sainz said, and if SEDC officials think otherwise then they are mistaken.

“That’s a complete and total mischaracterization of the conversation we’ve been having with Mr. Owen,” Sainz said.

Sainz said the mayor plans first to terminate Smith’s employment, then to install an interim president to run SEDC, and that only then would the city consider installing a senior-level financial official at the agency.

“To misconstrue that the solution to this entire problem is simply to install a city finance officer to oversee the city’s finances and no other reforms need to take place would be a complete and total perversion of the mayor’s position on this issue,” Sainz said.


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