Former Southeastern Economic Development Corp. President Carolyn Y. Smith’s controversial golden parachute, which is the subject of a lawsuit brought by local activist Ian Trowbridge, appears to have been taken apart, then stitched back together, according to this letter from SEDC Corporate Counsel Regina Petty to Trowbridge’s lawyer, Cory Briggs.

The SEDC board voted in an open session of its meeting on Wednesday to “cure” an alleged violation of the state’s open meetings law, known as the Brown Act, which has formed the basis for Trowbridge’s lawsuit, the letter states.

Trowbridge has alleged that the SEDC board discussed and voted on a $100,350 severance package for Smith in a closed session meeting, which he claims is a violation of the Brown Act. Severance payments need to be handled in open session, the suit claims. A couple of weeks ago, Trowbridge won a preliminary injunction barring SEDC from issuing Smith a check for the severance payment.

Petty’s letter states that the new SEDC board voted unanimously on Wednesday to nullify Smith’s termination agreement and then voted to approve the termination agreement.

That may sound confusing, but the reasoning behind the board’s actions is simple: By approving the agreement, and the payment, in open session, the board essentially gets rid of the problem that was caused when the previous board voted to pay Smith the payment in closed session.

We’ll have more on this on Monday.


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