Fired with No Chance To Answer Allegations

Lela Patterson worked as the Business Manager for Flo Community Water Supply Corporation (FCWSC) for five and a half years until her position was terminated by the directors at a board meeting held Thursday, November 1st. Patterson said in an interview that, except for what board President Mike Meade told her the morning he asked for her keys to the office and told her she was on suspension with pay, no exact allegations of misconduct were ever given to her.

Lela said that on the morning of September 30th, when she went to the FCWSC office after receiving a security alert, she found Meade and Vice President Mike Wheeler on the premises. Meade asked her for her keys and the passwords to the computer accounts. ?I gave him the keys and all the passwords,? said Patterson.

Patterson asked why she was being suspended. According to Patterson, Mead told her that charges have been made to a credit card that the board did not know existed. The charges on that card had been paid from the members? deposits. Meade also told her that some of the card charges were made to restaurants in Louisiana and in Mississippi. ?I asked if he could show me these charges,? said Patterson, ?but he said he could not.?

?The only thing I want,? continued Patterson, ?is for people to know the truth. I feel sure I could have cleared up any questions in one day, if they would have just called me in and asked me. I would have sat down with the auditor and explained anything if they would have allowed me to do it.?

?I don?t understand how they can fire me without any proof of what I did wrong. I am the fifth FCWSC Business Manager to be fired after allegations were brought by a member of the board. I don?t know if any evidence was ever given for any of the other firings.?

Patterson said when she attended the special called meeting held September 4th at the HUD office in Centerville, she took all the credit card statements she could find to give to the directors.

?The card was used regularly,? said Patterson, ?to buy paper and supplies at the dollar store, to buy lunches for the employees when they worked on jobs where they could not take off for food breaks. The card was also used at Hobby Lobby to purchase items for the annual directors meeting.? Patterson said that she looked over the credit card statements before taking them to the board meeting and found no charges to out of state restaurants.

Patterson said, too, that she was appalled to hear that Meade and Fritsche both described her as uncooperative with the audit. ?I provided them with everything they asked including passwords to all accounts. I have phone records for almost daily calls from the office assistant who needed my help to perform the office tasks last month. The only thing I could not help with over the phone was the billing. I would have to go to the office to do that, and since I was told not to come to the office, I didn?t do it.?

Patterson said she recalls Pittman asking her in September if the company had a credit card. Patterson said she answered that they did have one, and it was paid each month by a draft like the utility bills are paid. Asked if Pittman requested the credit card statements, Patterson said, ?No, she did not. And it wasn?t mentioned again until I was suspended.?

Patterson said all charges to the credit card were office related. ?The charges were all made within the budget allowed me by the board to purchase supplies and gifts and needs for the annual meeting. I am sure I could have explained it all if they would just have asked me.?