The Morning Report
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Mayor Jerry Sanders today announced a set of recommendations that he said would increase the city’s oversight of the Centre City Development Corp. and the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. Both nonprofit redevelopment organizations have been touched by scandals in the last year — SEDC for its president’s clandestine bonus system, CCDC for its president’s undisclosed conflicts of interest.
Sanders proposed that future CCDC and SEDC presidents be chosen by the mayor and approved by the City Council, rather than being selected by the agencies’ appointed boards. The nonprofit agencies’ boards should be expanded by two members, Sanders said, one appointed by the mayor and one by the council.
Sanders stopped short of recommending that the agencies be eliminated altogether or consolidated into one unified nonprofit, ideas that had been under consideration.
“We think the structure in each of those is sound,” Sanders said.
The City Council members who represent downtown and Southeast had been resistant to eliminating the agencies, saying they were concerned it would reduce attention to redevelopment in those neighborhoods. Two council members who represent areas covered by SEDC — Ben Hueso and Tony Young — stood by Sanders’ side in support at a morning press conference.
The proposal will be discussed at a City Council audit subcommittee meeting Monday.
Sanders said if the proposal was approved by the council, the city would move forward with hiring top executives for both organizations. CCDC put its president search on hold while the Mayor’s Office considered the organization’s future.
Fred Maas, CCDC’s chairman, said the mayor’s recommendations could create the certainty needed for the city to find a new executive. The only lingering uncertainty is the ongoing audit of CCDC’s operations, which is due in June.
“I’m going to make the assumption that whatever comes out of the audit will be survivable,” Maas said. “I don’t think that’s an impediment to a search.”
Sanders did not specify any timeframe for finding new executives for either organization. He said further changes could come to the redevelopment agencies’ structure pending the release of the CCDC audit.
Maas said he welcomed the mayor’s recommendations.
“Out of respect for the mayor and council, whatever they decide is fine with me,” he said. “It’s their necks on the line, it’s their money, I have great respect and deference for them.”