Interim UCDD Director Delivers Explosive Resignation

Interim UCDD Director Delivers Explosive Resignation

By Phil Williams. CREATED May 31, 2012

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- A longtime Upper Cumberland Development District employee has abruptly quit as UCDD's interim director, delivering an explosive resignation letter that blames the agency's board for much of its financial problems.

Earl Carwile was named to the post back in February amid a financial scandal uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates that later led to the resignation of UCDD boss Wendy Askins.

"It is clear that this board does not have the best interest of the agency's employees or those which are served throughout the Upper Cumberland region in mind when making decisions for future success," Carwile wrote in a letter delivered Thursday to UCDD board members.

"I have been a faithful employee of UCDD for over 16 years; however, I will not continue to be associated with such an organization."

Carwile's letter accused board members of ignoring warnings about financial improprieties during Askins' tenure and continuing to lead a campaign to root out NewsChannel 5's sources.

It follows a UCDD board meeting last week where Carwile expressed frustration over the decision by board chairman Mike Foster and other board members to hire former agency employee Amanda Mainord as an independent contractor to handle grants for their counties.

The board voted that Mainord could take what Carwile estimates to be $135,000 in profits from grants she worked while she was at UCDD.
"I personally don't agree with the decision that you just made, but that's my opinion," he told the board after the vote.
Reached by telephone late Thursday, Foster said that Mainord got so frustrated with the environment inside the agency that she left. Still, he said it just made good sense to let her continue working with his county and other counties so those projects are not affected.
In addition, Carwile's letter noted Foster's frequent complaints he has been personally burned by the UCDD scandal.
"Mr. Foster, I am certainly apologetic that you continue to 'have problems' with the agency and your hand has been burned," Carwile wrote. "However, you should identify that you and others have enabled all actions to occur that have caused you to 'get burnt.'"
Carwile said one UCDD employee warned at least two board members that there was serious financial and legal problems at that Living the Dream mansion -- long before the controversy erupted.
"She was told that there was nothing to worry about by those board members," the letter claimed. "Should these names need to be unveiled" -- referring to the board members -- "that certainly is not a problem."
Foster insisted that he was not one of those board members. Still, he said that he asked Carwile and co-director Ashley Pealer why they did not bring their own concerns to the board.
"They said they didn't trust the board -- so I don't trust them," Foster said.
And just like Foster's earlier complaints about wanting to know who inside UCDD might have stirred up the controversy, Carwile's letter suggested that's continuing.
"The bigger problem is that you and others continue to focus on 'who contacted the media' and 'who took information out'? Both items listed are things that may never be disclosed, and falsely accusing staff will provide you with even greater problems and will never allow for success to occur at this agency."
For his part, Foster denied that accusation.
"This is absolutely not about who took what to Channel 5," he insisted.
Phil Williams

Phil Williams

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Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team. His investigations have earned him journalism's highest honors.