Problems surface at Eastern Carolina Council | Law firm resigns. Executive Director fired.

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The ECC Conference room is well-appointed.

Katie Bordeaux learns of her dismissal.

DOWNTOWN NEW BERN – At 10pm on Thursday, July 22,  the governing board of the Eastern Carolina Council (ECC) voted unanimously to “immediately dismiss” the Council’s executive director, Katie Bordeaux. 

The stunning decision came after a marathon three-hour closed door session – off limits to Bordeaux; to the public; and to news media. During the closed session, the board received an extensive computer-slide presentation prepared by the Morehead City auditing firm of PB Mares, represented by one of the firm’s accountants, Robert Bittner. Also on hand to offer insight and counsel was an attorney from the mega-influential legal firm of Poyner Spruill. His name is Robert Hagemann. 

One primary reason for Hagemann’s presence? The ECC’s regular law firm – New Bern-based Grady-Quattlebaum – had resigned from all ECC duties, just a day earlier. 

Bordeaux’s firing and the law firm’s resignation are not a good sign for an agency, which is expected to receive at least $8.1 million in federal and state monies for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, that began July 1.

Insiders familiar with the procedures required for the abrupt dismissal of an executive director, said the job performance of Bordeaux would have been thoroughly discussed and examined during the governing board’s closed session. 

After three-plus hours, as the closed doors were once again opened to the public, ECC board President Jay Bender of Pollocksville escorted Bordeaux back into the opulent third floor conference room.

As Bordeaux took a seat, board member Jim Kohr of Havelock offered a motion to immediately dismiss her as the ECC’s executive director. Bender then called for a show of hands, which was unanimous. 

For a split second, the gravity of the moment appeared to catch Bordeaux off-guard. However, without a word, she quickly rose from her chair, and with no words and a fast stride, exited the room. Kohr and fellow board member Sabrina Bengel (who represents the City of New Bern) jumped up to follow Bordeaux. They later returned, confirming to Bender (the ECC President) that Bordeaux had been politely escorted out of the O Marks building 

This is the second time in her career that Bordeaux has been fired by a government agency. In 2010, when her name was Katie Alley, she lost her position as general manager of the ABC system for the City of Greensboro.

Bender, the ECC’s president, has agreed to serve as interim director of the quasi-governmental agency.

No other staff changes have been reported, as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Public records and sources familiar with ECC’s programs over the past year point to a $400,000 federal grant – originally applied for in early July of last year – as being the primary focus of an investigation, which began less than a month ago.