The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

August 14, 2013

Termination causes Jackson to cry foul

PHA executive director was fired by the board Aug. 2

By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER

PRINCEVILLE — The former Princeville Housing Authority (PHA) executive director is hollering foul after she was terminated on what she is calling "bogus" charges with a possible illegal board caring out the process.

Sharon Jackson was given a letter of termination after a PHA special called meeting Aug. 2.

According to the letter, Jackson was cited for numerous violations including failure to collect rent, signing checks without the chairperson signature, being disorganized, poor security of files and failure to perform re-examinations.

The letter states that Jackson have been in the position for three years with no progression toward meeting up to the standards. It also states policy and procedures were created in December 2002, but were not adopted or signed in minutes after examining the minutes from 2002 to 2013.

"We were informed that if these issues are not corrected, PHA funding could be affected," the letter states.

Jackson said the charges were trumped up against her because some of the commissioners and Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates didn't like her. She said they have been trying to terminate her for more than a year.

"I had nothing to do with the minutes from 2002 to 2009 — I was hired in 2010," Jackson said. "The Housing Authority is in better shape than it was when I took over. It was classified as troubled because 2010 financial data wasn't submitted. When I was hired, there had not been an audit done in three years and the housing authority did not have an accountant. I contracted an accountant and an auditor. In 2011 and 2012, the financial data was submitted on time. There were some significant improvements while I was executive director of the Princeville Housing Authority. They were just out to get me."

By N.C. General Statutes, the mayor solely appoints personnel to the housing authority board. Jackson claims the board has been in disarray for more than a year. During that span, the entire board has been terminated and, she claims, Everette-Oate's brother and sister were on the board. The statues state the mayor can remove a commissioner for inefficiency, neglect of duty or misconduct.

The attempt to replace the terminated board proved to be a difficult task. Her first two appointments were perhaps a sho- in — Daisy Staton, chairperson, and Maggie Boyd, former interim town manager.

Staton and Boyd are advocates for Everette-Oates policies as mayor. Staton was the mayor's pick as the town museum curator when Boyd, who held the position, was appointed interim town manager. Staton also assisted with town affairs before the Local Government Commission took over in 2012. Finding three other commissioners to complete the board has been a problem for the mayor.

On Monday, Staton said the new board consists of herself, Boyd, Thomas Jones and Alex Nobles. According to N.C. General Statues, housing authorities "shall consist of not less than five members, and at least one commissioner appointed shall be a person who is assisted by the PHA. No one on the present board is assisted by PHA. Barbara Manning was the last commissioner on the board who lived in Pioneer Court.

Manning was on the board that was terminated. She said the mayor asked her to resign and added that the mayor was the driving force behind Jackson's  termination.

"A lot of stuff was said about Sharon that is not true," Manning said.

Despite the board's apparent shortcomings, a representative from HUD's Greensboro office said Princeville does have an active board. When he was told  Princeville has only four commissioners, he cited the general statutes.

Another PHA board shortfcoming is that it has at least one unqualified member — because Jones has not been sworn in. The Tarboro resident attended only one meeting (July 18, special called meeting). During that meeting Jackson was asked to produce all resolutions, poliices, operating procedures and minutes for the last five years within four days. Jones said some of the members of the board had intentions to terminate Jackson that day. As of Tuesday, Jones said he had not been officially notified about Jackson's termination.

"I went to that meeting and I didn't like what I saw," Jones said. "I saw a lot of anger (against Jackson) and they didn't have any proof that she did anything wrong. They wanted to fire her that day, but HUD told them they didn't have enough evidence. I'm not for a lot of foolishness. I didn't have anything to do with her being fired. It looked like they were out to get her from the start."

Former chairperson Ray Powell agreed with Jones. Powell served only three months before stepping down. He said he found no fault in Jackson.

"They wanted me to fire her, but I couldn't because she didn't do anything wrong as for as I was concerned," he said. "I'm a Christian. I don't want to be involved in something that I know is wrong. Some of the members acted like they had something personally against her. The whole situation is wrong. That is why I resigned."

In another twist, Jackson said the board has not met for a regular scheduled meeting since March 2012.

Staton said the PHA will advertise for the executive director position within three weeks. She did not answer other questions stating she could not comment on personnel matters.

Everette-Oates declined to comment and referred all questions to Staton.