Government

More News | | | Editor

Suspended housing official fights claims

  • Follow Government

City officials are pointing a finger at a single employee for recent trouble in the Housing and Community Devel­­op­ment Department, including the city having to repay $344,000 in misspent federal funds.

However, that employee, Hous­ing Manager La Sandra Corley, is disputing claims that she provided false information about the housing developers who spent the money and that she failed to “continuously” alert her bosses of project deadlines.

In April, the Augusta Com­mis­sion authorized a $344,000 repayment of federal funds demanded by U.S. Housing and Urban Devel­op­ment because projects the city was supposed to complete with the funds were not completed.

At the time, Assistant Housing and Community Development Director Hawthorne Welcher told the commission that a nonprofit community housing development organization that was supposed to complete one project was unable to do so.

In response to questions from commissioners about the East Augusta Community Development Corp.’s tax-exempt status, Welcher insisted it was a legal nonprofit organization. However, the IRS had revoked the group’s nonprofit status last year for not filing a tax return since 2003.

In Corley’s appeal of her June 4 suspension for four days without pay by Housing Director Chester Wheeler, she disputes his account of events surrounding the refund.

Corley denies that she provided Welcher with “erroneous information” about East Augusta Community Development’s nonprofit status, which Wheeler said he repeated to commissioners. However, Corley acknowledges she was responsible for certifying CHDOs annually.

“The revocation of East Augus­ta’s 501c3 status was brought to light by … The Augusta Chronicle,” she wrote. “Hawthorne Welcher only discussed possible reasons for the delay of the projects such as the lack of sewer but failed to divulge the role that Housing and Com­munity Development played in the delay.”

Corley’s appeal does not elaborate on what the housing department’s role in the delay was, but she claims she kept Welcher and Wheeler apprised at monthly meetings of the status of projects and importance of meeting deadlines and had done so since the last visit by the HUD inspector general. She also claims she was never instructed to verify a CHDO’s nonprofit status with the IRS.

“I do not appreciate my career being tainted and sullied by Chester Wheeler and Hawthorne Welcher,” she said.

Corley, a city employee since 2000, earns $52,599 as housing manager, according to city records.

Wheeler, City Ad­min­is­trator Fred Russell and Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan refused to comment, citing an ongoing personnel action. Like recently demoted Recreation Operations Manager Melinda Pearson, Corley bypassed the administrators and contacted commissioners directly.

Commissioner Jerry Brig­ham said he had received but not read Corley’s letter.

“She’s still got to go through the hoops,” he said.

Since the refund demand, Brigham’s and other commissioners’ requests for the CHDOs to account for how they spent the refunded funds have been ignored or delayed for weeks. Only one – Sand Hills Redevelopment Corp. – has offered any written explanation. The CHDOs are scheduled to present information in some form at a workshop Monday.

“I’m trying to understand what happened,” Brigham said. “I would think HCD would have basic information.”

Comments (7) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
corgimom
30088
Points
corgimom 06/12/12 - 10:14 pm
8
1
The commissioners can't run

The commissioners can't run the county, they are too busy trying to solve the gross dysfunctional employee problems that are present in every department.

Only in Augusta!

gmt
79
Points
gmt 06/12/12 - 11:15 pm
0
0
offical -> Official?

offical -> Official?

dichotomy
31692
Points
dichotomy 06/12/12 - 11:17 pm
7
0
"The commissioners can't run

"The commissioners can't run the county"

That sums it up pretty well. Money given to bogus organizations. Robbing us for garbage service. Outrageous unnecessary "changes" to the TEE. The Rec Dept. ambush and future lawsuit. The voting map fiasco. The "let's throw some more money down the hole" forensic audit.

I don't care how smart, how nice, how much you may or may not like individual commissioners. When you put them all together they are a dysfunctional, incompetent disaster. They are costing us money that is being thrown down the tubes because they don't do their jobs of oversight and they spend most of their time trying to poke their fingers in each other's eyes. They are the laughing stock of Georgia along with you for electing them.

itsanotherday1
41409
Points
itsanotherday1 06/13/12 - 12:06 am
5
1
the gross dysfunctional employee problems

Absolutely! This is what happens when government becomes a jobs program in the interest of political correctness. Incompetence rules the day.

avidreader
3072
Points
avidreader 06/13/12 - 08:58 am
4
0
Thanks, Bob Dylan

One of the great poetry passages of all time: "It don't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"

The blame game has become deafening to my ears. Anyone with half a lick of sense understands which way the wind is blowing in our city government. But, it never changes. Why?

Little Lamb
44930
Points
Little Lamb 06/13/12 - 10:36 am
2
0
The Top

You could fix a lot of the dysfunction by firing Fred Russell for dereliction of duty and replacing him with an actual manager of personnel.

porsche
11
Points
porsche 06/19/12 - 04:57 pm
0
0
Housing Manager - City Housing Department

Wrong person suspended. Housing Manager's letter speaks the truth. City Administrator needs to listen to her and act accordingly.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs