Add an SEDC board member to the list of people that can’t get answers from the Southeastern Economic Development Corp.

Board member Rich Geisler just told me he’s yet to receive answers to a slew of questions about the agency’s hidden system of bonuses and extra compensation that he asked in a July memo to then-Chairman Artie M. “Chip” Owen and President Carolyn Y. Smith.

Here’s an example of one of the questions:

Who has line item authority over the budget after it is improved? For instance, if money was moved from vacant positions to pay for additional staff bonus/merit etc. for current employees, who makes that decision? Was the Board ever made aware of this practice?

In a July 9 memo in response to a story on July 8, Smith and Owen claimed that the board of directors “delegated the details of SEDC’s President’s compensation to the Chair of the Board of Directors.” We wrote about that revelation in this story.

In his memo, Geisler asked for more details about that relationship:

I am still unclear on the level of discretionary authority that the chair has on approving bonus/merit and other additional compensations for the President of the Corporation. Cold you explain that in greater detail and are there any documented performance reviews or evaluations to justify any such payments.

Geisler said he hasn’t received answers to any of the questions in the memo. He said he has tried to have the questions addressed in SEDC board meetings but that Owen brushed them aside.

The answers to those questions, and others that we highlighted last week, are key to understanding what authority Smith had in distributing $1 million in bonuses and extra compensation over the last five years, much of which went to her and Finance Director Dante Dayacap.

Geisler told me that an FBI agent who contacted him recently wanted to know if he had received answers to the questions in his memo.

“He said they were very good questions, exactly the questions he would have asked. I told him I haven’t had a response,” Geisler said.


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