The agenda for tonight’s Southeastern Economic Development Corp. board meeting is packed with interesting items, chief of which are the potential ouster of SEDC President Carolyn Y. Smith and SEDC Corporate Counsel Regina Petty.
Here’s an outline of what’s going to be discussed:
- Ousting Smith: Before the board’s last meeting, Mayor Jerry Sanders called on the board to remove Smith from SEDC immediately, citing a damning audit that concluded the agency’s actions “rose to the level of fraud.”
Smith was terminated by the board back in July, but was given 90 days to stay on the job, as well as a $100,350 severance. SEDC’s Executive Committee considered the mayor’s request last week, but continued the matter to tonight’s meeting.
The audit also essentially concluded that SEDC can’t function if Smith’s not there, because Smith has vested practically all control within the agency in herself. There’s no obvious replacement for Smith, and the only staffer the auditors thought might possibly be able to take over her duties, Finance Director Dante Dayacap, has been on medical leave for weeks.
The board will also revisit the issue of Smith’s termination agreement at the mayor’s request. The agreement has been targeted by a recent lawsuit brought by community activist Ian Trowbridge.
Both issues will be discussed in closed session.
- Regina Petty: Corporate Counsel Regina Petty has been the SEDC board’s lawyer for several years. At last week’s Executive Committee meeting, Petty had a heated argument with City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who showed up at the meeting and proposed that the board begin getting legal advice from his office and oust Petty.
The committee was split on whether to take Aguirre up on his proposal, which includes sending two deputy city attorneys to work with the agency for 90 days until SEDC can establish its own legal representation. Aguirre’s proposal will now be considered by the full board.
The Executive Committee also last week considered a motion to begin searching for a new law firm to represent SEDC. That motion was also forwarded to tonight’s meeting, and will be considered in the open session of the meeting.
At least one board member has previously criticized Petty’s tenure at the agency, and the lead auditor for the recent SEDC audit said some board members her team interviewed felt that Petty “would convey info they didn’t believe was quite accurate.” However, the auditor said they couldn’t verify the claims and it wasn’t in her company’s contract to look into the issue further.
- Choosing a developer for Valencia Business Park: I’ve already written about this extensively here and here. SEDC has offered no explanation as to why this item is on the agenda, and at least two board members told me they think it’s inappropriate for them to discuss the deal at the board level, and that the issue needs to be examined by SEDC’s Projects Committee first.
- Choosing a new head for SEDC: With Smith definitely leaving SEDC on Oct. 21, if not before, the board will be further discussing the issue of finding a new president for the agency. The Executive Committee voted last week to ask the board to consider issuing a request for proposals for executive search firms to be hired to find a new president. The board will also consider appointing an executive search committee and an interim chief administrator for the agency.
- Approval of other contracts: The board will be asked to consider the approval of several contracts with local companies for consulting and outreach services.
- Other items: The board will also deal with some housekeeping issues, including approving a schedule for the board’s committee meetings and approving a date for the new board of directors’ member orientation.
The meeting starts at 5 p.m. at SEDC’s headquarters, 4393 Imperial Ave., Suite 200. It is open to the public.
It’s going to be a long night.