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Monday, Oct. 25, 2008 | I am the plaintiff in the open government “Brown Act suit” against Southeastern Economic Development Corp. and its former president, Carolyn Y. Smith with regard to her “golden parachute” of $100,350 of public money in her termination contract. Had she been dismissed for cause, as she should have been, we would not be faced with the question of whether she should have received this public gift.

In an action typical of SEDC Corporate Counsel Regina Petty, she persuaded the new board of directors of SEDC to undo the termination contract the old board voted for in closed session and then vote in open session to exactly restore the contract, thus “curing” the Brown Act violation. Petty informed my lawyer Cory Briggs late Friday, after all the briefs on this matter for a Tuesday hearing next week had been filed. This ambush shows how much Petty disrespects the law.

I think this latest action by Petty and her client speaks volumes about how dysfunctional SEDC is even with a new board. The new board still seems to think they have no responsibility to act in the public interest.

Where is Mayor Jerry Sanders in this farcical misuse of taxpayer’s money? Nowhere in sight.

The fact is that the operating agreements between the city and the rogue redevelopment corporations, SEDC and Centre City Development Corp., are so badly drafted that they give little authority to the city.

However, there is one action the mayor could take as executive director of the Redevelopment Agency — that is to issue an executive order prohibiting the use of redevelopment funds to pay for Smith’s termination payout. The council could also block the payment if ever they would grow a backbone.

It seems obvious to me, simply allowing the mayor to control the composition of the SEDC and CCDC board of directors is not an answer to the inherent defects — incompetence, cronyism, etc. — of these expensive redundant city redevelopment corporations.

Get the job done, Mr. Mayor.

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