The Atlanta-based National Conference of Black Mayors has apparently fired its executive director,Vanessa Williams, but she is refusing to leave, calling the action bogus.
The dispute is the latest twist in a fight that saw Williams in Fulton County Superior Court two weeks ago, answering allegations that she misspent the group’s funds on personal items.
Late Friday, Williams received a termination letter purporting to be from the board of directors on NCBM letterhead. It said she was terminated “due to your failure over a sustained period of several years to fulfill core duties and responsibilities … and your recent admissions regarding your use of the bank accounts of NCBM … for personal expenditures totaling at least $623,000 without board approval.”
But an attorney for Williams said Monday the full board didn’t meet Friday. He said the notice came directly from NCBM president Kevin Johnson, who also appears to be fighting for his position within the organization.
“More than half of the people on the board were not involved in this, and have disavowed Johnson’s actions,” said Atlanta attorney Richard Arrington. “It is unfortunate that Johnson continues to try to take these actions to resolve these problems.”
Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento and a former NBA All-Star, was elected president of the 39-year-old group in July. But some members of the organization have said the election was invalid because of voting irregularities and have called for a special election this month.
Johnson would not comment Monday, but Jeff Dickerson, a spokesman for the NCBM, said a quorum of the board participated in a conference call last week.
“We know we had a quorum and we voted to terminate her,” Dickerson said.
But board member Earnest Nash said he and several other board members knew nothing about the Friday conference call. He said Johnson shouldn’t do anything regarding Williams while the case is still in court.
“That meeting wasn’t called under our rules and regulations,” said Nash, the mayor of Gould, Ark. “It was inappropriate and I will not accept the resignation, nor do I think she should step down.”
Arrington said Williams is still weighing her options.
“She has not accepted the termination, because the board of directors hasn’t accepted it,” Arrington said. “Johnson continues to speak on his own behalf. At the end of the day, the board has the authority.”
According to an auditor’s report and bank records, the NCBM, with Williams managing its operations, has expended $623,000 since January 2010 on women’s apparel, cosmetics, personal grooming, toys, sporting tickets, a youth baseball league and direct cash payments to Williams and her husband.