Email shows hostility among board members over support of executive director
By RON AIKEN
An email obtained by Quorum from Richland County Recreation Commissioner Thomas Clark to the county legislative delegation shows a “disconnect” between the majority of the board who voted to support executive director James Brown III after a $35,000 internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, intimidation and nepotism and the two members who voted against it.
Commissioner Thomas Clark, appointed to the board on April 16 just three days after the initial story broke about corruption in the commission that included allegations of bribes to commissioners, one of the two votes against supporting Brown along with Commissioner Wilbert Lewis. In his email Clark said his vote against supporting Brown has cost him his standing on the board and that in executive session board chairman Marie Green slandered him.
“Since the boards (sic) 5-2 vote in support of the current director I’ve sensed a disconnect with current Board Chairwoman J. Marie Green due to the way I voted,” Clark wrote. “On August 24, 2016 we held an emergency meeting to address a legal matter with agency or board legal team. During this closed session in the presence of Weston A. Furgess, Jr., Wilbert Lewis, George D. Martin, Jr., Joseph Weeks and Richard Morgan (attorney), Ms. Green was very disrespectful in tone as I tried to hand her a legal document that was given for the board to view.
“Ms. Green went on to slander me by stating that ‘You’re the reason that the FBI is investigating us.’ Not only is this statement not true, but was slanderous to my character/has tarnished my position with my fellow board member’s (sic). As I stated earlier all these allegations against Mr. Brown and said board members took place prior to my appointment to this board and nor would I sit back and have my name or character tarnished by the actions of other’s (sic).
“I will not be intimidated or feel that I’ve done something wrong for taking a stand for the employees of this agency and the citizens of Richland County. With Ms. Green unprofessional conduct/character she should not be on or in leadership of this board and I will await your immediate response to this matter, Thanking you in advance for your time & attention.”
When reached Friday afternoon, Lewis said he could not discuss anything that was or was not said in executive session but did offer a statement.
“It is a matter of public record where I stand on the officers,” Lewis said. At the June commission meeting, Lewis and Clark were the only two votes against Green and Mickens continuing to serve as chair and vice chair, respectively.
“I believe in conducting yourself in a manner that’s honorable.”
An email sent to Clark by Quorum to Clark has not yet been returned.
Reach Aiken at (803) 200-8809. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RonAiken and @QuorumColumbia. Like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our email list on the top right of the page.