Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009 | It’s been almost half a year since Carolyn Y. Smith, the president of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., resigned under the weight of a widespread scandal over hidden bonuses and extra compensation paid to employees of the agency.
Now, as SEDC attempts to pick itself up and dust itself off after the loss of its president and finance director and the replacement of a majority of its board members, the agency finds itself under continued pressure from the City Council to reform its operations or face a concerted campaign to disband SEDC in favor of another redevelopment model.
As it strives to implement a slew of recommendations laid out in a damning performance audit last year, SEDC continues to feel the fallout from the bonus scandal that led to Smith’s demise. The agency is dealing with subpoenas from a federal investigation and ongoing lawsuits directed both at SEDC and its former president over a $100,350 severance package that Smith was promised last summer, but is yet to receive.
Despite the positions of president and chief financial officer remaining unfilled, SEDC’s interim leader Brian Trotier said the agency has striven to keep its head down and concentrate on the task it was created for: Redeveloping and revamping some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.
Late last year, the agency agreed to implement many of the audit’s recommendations. Some of those recommendations have already been met, and the agency’s new board has opened a constructive dialogue with the city to implement the audit’s other recommendations, Trotier said.
“We have a new board, a new direction and a new understanding with the city. Now we get to do what we’re supposed to be doing,” Trotier said.