Scotland County Commissioner John Alford has called the move to replace Hubert Sealey on the Four-County Community Services board of directors a regrettable action on the part of board Chairman Jimmy Cummings.
In an April 12 letter, Cummings requested that the Robeson County commissioners replace their fellow county commissioner Sealey on the Laurinburg-based board.
Sealey said that Cummings failed to provide any reason for requesting his removal.
“I have questioned the way the minutes are recorded, purchases are made, and how certain board members have abused their authority by not bringing certain things to the full board for approval,” Sealey said in a letter to reporters dated April 19. “I am concerned about term limits of the board and how some board members never come off the board when their terms expire.”
Sealey claims that most of Four-County’s board members were unaware of Cummings’ letter to Robeson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Noah Woods, and that Cummings may have acted unilaterally in asking for his removal. Cummings could not be reached for comment.
Alford, also a member of the Four-County board, said that he is still unaware of the exact contents of Cummings’ letter.
“I regret that this happened, and I have no idea what Dr. Cummings stated in his letter,” said Alford. “We have not had a meeting, nor were we informed by telephone of such drastic measure. This is a very serious measure when an elected official is removed from a board.”
On April 15, the Robeson commissioners voted to replace Sealey as the commissioners’ appointee with Robeson County Assistant County Manager Jason King.
Sealey’s letter also cites the mismanagement found in a 2012 audit of Four-County by the state Department of Health and Human Services, intimating that Cummings knew of executive director Richard Greene’s nine-year marriage to fiscal controller Annie Rothwell and that he arranged $10,000 in annual payments to Greene’s Top Hat retirement account that were never approved by the board.
“Cummings has been on the board for decades, and almost every year he has been the chairman,” Sealey said. “That’s an abuse of power. Whenever anyone questions anything he does, he uses the bylaws or agency policies to remove them from the board or justify whatever is being questioned.”
The board voted to dismiss Greene from his position last month after the release of the audit’s findings.
Four-County Community Services receives some $21 million annually in federal and state grants to operate 16 Head Start systems, disburse Section 8 housing funds, and provide assistance with weatherization and appliance repair to low-income households in Scotland, Robeson, Hoke, Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, and Pender counties.