Wednesday, June 20, 2012

London trip: Where's the check?

School board emails about Chairman Ericka Ellis-Stewart's London travel plans answer some questions and raise new ones.

They show Ellis-Stewart was initially concerned that the budget for Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board travel wouldn't cover the $4,800 bill, but signed up anyway. They show the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the trip, spent weeks trying to get the money -- and that Ellis-Stewart told them a check was coming, even though CMS staff now say no check was sent.


The emails show chamber staff urging Ellis-Stewart to consult Eric Davis, her predecessor as chair, on ways to find the money. They show Davis urging newly-hired Superintendent Heath Morrison to attend, and they show Ellis-Stewart waiting for word on whether Davis would transfer his unspent money to her. At roughly the same time, they show Davis requesting a report on all members' travel spending and informing two colleagues that he denied Ellis-Stewart's request.

I requested the emails on May 21, two days after Ellis-Stewart and about 80 other community leaders boarded a plane that was delayed for hours by mechanical problems, leading the chamber to cancel the trip. CMS provided them Monday at no charge, after telling me originally it would cost $855 for retrieval.

You can read them here, but there's a lot of repetition and it can be hard to sort out the chronology. The request was only for emails sent and received in May, but they include replies to prior communications, giving a fuller picture of the discussion.

The emails start with a Feb. 29 reminder from the chamber that the trip is filling up fast, urging those who are interested to register by the March 5 deadline.

"I am not sure how this will fit into the district's budget," Ellis-Stewart emailed Natalie English, the chamber's vice president for public policy, that day.

"Have you thought about talking to Eric about it?"  English replied the next day. "He went last year and found it very valuable. He might have some thoughts about how you could make it work."

Marilyn Monson, the chamber staffer handling the trip's logistics, let Ellis-Stewart know the chamber offered a $200 discount on the $5,000 trip for public officials.

"I am interested,  but am not sure if the district's budget will support the expense,"  Ellis-Stewart replied on March 1.

Nothing in the emails provided shows how Ellis-Stewart resolved that question.  But a series of emails in March between Ellis-Stewart and Monson show Monson trying to get Ellis-Stewart's registration and check,  while Ellis-Stewart says she needs an invoice from the chamber to get payment.

On April 2,  Ellis-Stewart emailed that she had re-faxed her registration form,  which Monson confirmed.

On April 20, the day after the school board picked Heath Morrison as its next superintendent, Davis emailed English to ask for information on the London trip. He received an electronic brochure later that day and  forwarded it to Morrison.
"Heath, if possible this would be well worth your time to go on this trip, meet business and community leaders, etc. I believe that Ericka is going,"  Davis wrote.
The email does not discuss the cost of the trip or how it would be paid for.  Davis said in an interview he never heard back from Morrison about the trip. 

A series of emails sent the morning of May 15 chronicle an exchange between board clerk Judith Whittington and Ellis-Stewart about the travel budget.
"Transfers to your travel budget are: $1,000 from Richard (McElrath) and $800 from Amelia (Stinson-Wesley). Am I missing any?"  Whittington asked.
"Potentially, Eric Davis.  Waiting to hear back from him,"  Ellis-Stewart answers.
Whittington then informed Ellis-Stewart that a board member had requested "an updated travel report" and she wanted to make sure she had the latest information. "Report will be coming to you, as well as other board members, shortly," Whittington added.
"Who made the request?"  Ellis-Stewart asked.
"Eric asked for updated travel report,"  Whittington replied.

That afternoon, the chamber's Monson emailed Ellis-Stewart to ask about payment: "Hi Ericka, sorry to bother you, but we still have not received your check for the trip to London.  Would you please check into this for me?"
"The check has been cut and (CMS Chief Financial Officer) Sheila Shirley will be sending it over,"  Ellis-Stewart replied.
When the Observer asked for confirmation this week, CMS spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte replied: "Please contact Ericka about the email she sent to the Chamber. We can confirm that no check was sent to the Chamber from the district." Ellis-Stewart said Tuesday that it was her understanding that CMS had cut a check in late April or early May.

On May 16, there was a brief exchange of emails between Davis, Tim Morgan and Rhonda Lennon.
"I declined Ericka's request to transfer travel $s,"  Davis told the other two.
"I have not been asked,"  Morgan replied.
"nor have I," added Lennon.

On May 18,  the day before the London flight was supposed to depart, Davis emailed interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh with the subject line  "London."
"Any Board members going?"  Davis asked.
"Eric,  BOE chair is apparently leaving Saturday afternoon for London,"  Hattabaugh replied.

Ellis-Stewart boarded the plane,  along with dozens of other participants, that Saturday.  Lennon later said Ellis-Stewart called her that morning to ask about transferring travel money. That evening she emailed Hattabaugh and other CMS staff, seeking more information about the budget and saying she was considering “a small transfer” to Ellis-Stewart.
“I have received this type of request in the past, which I have always declined as I think each board member should be responsible for making good financial decisions regarding their travel and the use of taxpayer money,” Lennon wrote.

The flight was delayed for hours by mechanical problems,  and the chamber decided early Sunday morning to cancel the  trip.

While most board members' emails were limited to bare-bones information, Stinson-Wesley, the board's newest member, proved the exception. After the trip was cancelled and questions about travel spending were being aired, Stinson-Wesley sent her colleagues a 13-paragraph email May 25 sharing thoughts and questions about allotments of travel money and talking time at school board meetings. She asked what happened to unspent travel money and  how freely board members should share their individual allotments.
"Is it better stewardship to spend fully what we have been allowed, gaining the knowledge that the money is supposed to pay for and sharing that knowledge with one another, or is it better stewardship to save that money and not use it at all?"  she asked. 
Stinson-Wesley said she didn't mind sharing some of hers but would like to get travel reports in return. She even suggested using closed meetings to share reports -- something that would not pass muster with the N.C. open meetings law, which limits closed meetings to a few confidential purposes.

The only response to Stinson-Wesley included in the emails provided by CMS is one sentence from Vice Chairman Mary McCray: "Judy (Whittington, the board clerk) can address your concerns with the allotment of money, so speak with her."
Elllis-Stewart has said that board members will likely discuss travel budgets at a future retreat.


Wiley Coyote said...

CMS is still the same CMS...

Morrison is still the incoming Super...

..and the sun rose this morning.

That London trip was and in the future will be, a waste of time and money.

We all know anyone can "justify" anything if need be, so in the end, missing the trip was not detrimental to CMS.

Anonymous said...

I see no reason for any elected official to go on this trip. Get a copy of the notes and agendas ......this is ridiculous. Ellis can not even fill a registration form let alone pay the tab....

The Last BFSOTP said...

Allow me to grant kudos to Rev. Stinson-Wesley, who many thought was selected simply to be a Democrat, sit quietly on the Board and vote with Ericka and Mary. Turns out, behind the scenes, she's asking questions that an outsider like her should ask: namely, How do we do things, Why do we do things this way, and Is the way we do things really in the Board's - and the District's - best interest?

Brava, Amelia. More of the same.

Ken Nelson said...

Ericka Ellis-Stewart is about as incompetent as anyone has ever been in any job. The woman is a trainwreck. Yet, she's EXACTLY what this county wanted...

ahh consensus ahh, getting along with each other ahh, how ****ing cute.

Instead of electing people with a backbone, or the slightest ability to do simple subtraction, y'all elected someone a few slices of bread short of a sandwich.

If I was elected and was confronted with this situation, I'd publically reprimand this poor excuse for a public servant, AND, if she went to London exceeding her travel budget, I would have gone to court to get a judgment against her for the amount owed.

Anonymous said...

Wiley- It does provide some value in that the Chamber can influence their decision with these vacations. You can see that from the emails as Eric Davis who went on the last trip with Chamber was selling this trip to Ericka. Its that terrible influence caught in the emails with English,Davis,Morgan,Stewart,Hugh that shakes trees. They dont care that it can come out in public either from their tones. A glorified vacation done on the backs of kids is what that is. Terrible conflict of interest that should be stopped. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Ann, Exactly how was Ericka able to get on the plane if she had not paid in full?

Ann Doss Helms said...

I don't know.

Wiley Coyote said...


Anonymous said...

A better question might be how did she have the gall to get on the plane if she had not paid?

Anonymous said...

I hear Ericka tips bad too.

Anonymous said...

Better E-S than ED.

Christine Mast said...


Someone is obviously lying. Every one of us knows that you cannot get a plane ticket without SOMEONE having paid for it already.

So who's lying? Ericka? The Chamber? Sheila Shirley? Hugh? Eric?

I don't know the specifics, but the only way this story "works" is for "someone" to have paid for the ticket already. And now they're in the middle of a beautifully executed cover-up

Not that anyone asked, but here are my thoughts:

Since Ericka told the Chamber that the check had been cut and Ms. Shirley would be "sending it over," my money is on either Ericka and/or Ms. Shirley being in-cahoots over this payment. Either Ericka made up that story to keep stalling the Chamber, or Ms. Shirley made up the story, told it to Ericka, who then passed it along.

Another possibility is that the Chamber agreed (off-line) to pay for the trip, expecting CMS to cut the check as reimbursement. This would be how Ericka got the ticket and boarded the plane, without needing the check from Ms. Shirley yet.

But again, the ticket WAS paid for, as evidenced by the fact that Ericka was on the plane. Wouldn't it be great if the guilty party (or parties) stood up and took the blame for what they did wrong? It would be such a batch of fresh air for the guilty party(or parties) to own up to their deceitful activities.

Maybe then I'd extend an olive branch and try to start out with a new slate. Or maybe not. But the ball is in their court. I'll keep holding my breath that someone will do the honorable thing and 'fess up. Because like I tell my kids... if you've done something wrong, you're already going to have consequences for it. But if you stack on a lie or two, you'll just end up in even MORE trouble. The one thing this Momma hates more than anything is a LIAR.

Christine Mast said...

Whittington then informed Ellis-Stewart that a board member had requested "an updated travel report" and she wanted to make sure she had the latest information. "Report will be coming to you, as well as other board members, shortly," Whittington added.
"Who made the request?" Ellis-Stewart asked.
"Eric asked for updated travel report," Whittington replied.

Example # 1 of the complete and utter dysfunction of this Board. Why did Eric not ask Ericka, the Board Chair, to get this report (or at least cc every other Board member, to keep everyone in the loop? Why did Ericka not know about his request for this report? Why aren't they talking to each other, instead of only to Ms. Whittington?

Wiley Coyote said...

What kind of ticket was it? Refundable? Non-refundable?

I have two non-refundable tickets outstanding right now, in my name, but my company technically paid for the tickets. I will submit the change fee and whatever the difference in fare is the next time I fly.

I pay for them on my credit card and submit the receipt on my weekly expenses and get reinbursed.

So, do we, the taxpayers, technically own that ticket? If EE-S goes to a conference somewhere in the future, will she pay the change fee to use it or will we, the taxpayers, have to pay the fee?

Anonymous said...

All the fees associated with the cnaceled trip were refundable. I agree with Christine its not that point , but the one that she would get on a plane not knowing who covered her expenses. She never thought it would be questioned or become public knowledge. Ann I would demand from Ericka or Sheila Shirley to produce a canceled check or CC bill. Someone covered this expense originally before she got on the tarmac we all know that. Who it was she was going to owe the "favor too" is what I would like to know. Its very clear that Ericka is in over her head as these issues continue to pop up every month. I think she meant well , but she is being influenced by others in a negative fashion. Eventually the error will compound with resignation. Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 2:32...

I missed the part where it said all plane tickets and fees are refundable.

Anonymous said...

Erika should do they right thing and resign.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Normally somebody would be stuck with the plane fare, but in this case, USAirways refunded all tickets for this trip. The chamber refunded the rest of the tab (or in this case, apparently just never got paid).

Anonymous said...

My guess is US Airways refunded the ticket AND provided one free round-trip ticket with a free upgrade to first class. We're talking inconveniencing the chamber and the school board chair for a "mechanical" problem.

Wiley Coyote said...


That was why I asked the question.

Your response indicates we still don't know the particulars of who paid what.

Anonymous said...

When I'm really bored, I'll pontificate about my US Airways trip to London from Charlotte experience complete with a cigarette wielding passenger and a sniffing bomb dog who had to take a union break every 20 minutes - for security purposes.

Anonymous said...

Sniffing bomb dogs can only accurately sniff for 20 minutes. At least this is what I learned according to the TSA department and their unionized dogs.

Anonymous said...

I always love it when US Airways delays and then cancels my flight because they have to fly in a part from Pittsburgh - before telling me they're not sure where my checked-in luggage is.

My guess is our school board chair got an additional free round-trip ticket courtesy of US Airways while some schools in our system continue to have a ticket to nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Wiley and Ann - WC I think that is the missing piece. I asked Ann in one of my responses to see if she could ask "Who paid for it and with what proof"? I dont know if they legally have to provide that , but if we want TRUST then I would feel compelled to provide it. gosh if I had know when I was running for the board that vacations were involved it would have motivated me more. (funny) None of this surprises me as several folks were running for the wrong reasons. Next year I am campaigning in my district 5 not Countywide. It should be interesting how Mr. Davis can answer to emails linking his to the vacation business. Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...


I get the Chamber's part of the trip, representing Charlotte trying to get business to come here and vice versa.

If there is ANY REAL opportunity for CMS to benefit from sending a person on the trip, it should be the Superintendent and not the head of the BOE or members.

The whole trip from the get-go was suspect, with the Chamber using some obscure future possibility of bidding on the Olympics as the excuse.

The city just voted to support MINOR league baseball.

The lengths some people (government, individuals, companies, etc) will go to justfiy their existence is pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Instead of only pointing fingers, can you try to look at it from the point of view that maybe people have good intentions even when things look questionable?

Ericka is a new board chair. She is trying to do her job. It sounds like she was continually pressured by the Chamber to attend, not to mention her predecessor Eric Davis. How would you like it if you were expected to attend a trip like this and had to scramble to find a way to pay for it? If she was attending for CMS, should she have had to pay out of pocket?

I think that if public officials are expected to attend these trips, the Chamber should offer them more than a $200 discount. To me that's the big issue here.

John said...

The Last BFSOTP,

Of course she also proposed illegaly using closed meetings to discuss these issues.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 3:39..

If our elected head of the BOE can be "pressured by the Chamber"?

We don't need her.

My response would have been to tell the Chamber where to stick it.

John said...

Anonymous 3:39PM,

Nice try to spin it like Ellis-Stewart is an innocent victim here!

It doesn't read at all to me like anyone "pressured" her to make the trip. It was presented and she chose to register BEFORE she had a way to pay for it figured out.

The Chamber only asked when she was going to make the expected payment she had agreed to.

Let's not forget that she had already spent about $3000 in travel expenses!

Whatever she is, she's NOT a victim here.

Anonymous said...

What message would it send to the British when the chair of the Board of Education opened her mouth and laid bare for all to hear the fractured syntax?

Christine Mast said...

"The check has been cut and (CMS Chief Financial Officer) Sheila Shirley will be sending it over," Ellis-Stewart replied.
When the Observer asked for confirmation this week, CMS spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte replied: "Please contact Ericka about the email she sent to the Chamber. We can confirm that no check was sent to the Chamber from the district." Ellis-Stewart said Tuesday that it was her understanding that CMS had cut a check in late April or early May.

I have worked in Accounts Payable (AP) before, and in my 20 years of experience, I know how easy it is to check the general ledger AP details, and know right away if a vendor payment has been processed yet, and if so, when the check will be (or was) cut.

On another note, when a check request is sent for approval and processing, there should be policies and procedures in place, as to how to process that request. First, the request has to be signed by both the requestor (Ericka) and her "boss." Since she technically doesn't have one, the default procedure may be to verify her "travel budget," to ensure there's enough money left to cover the cost of the request. At this point, AP should have seen a red flag. There was NOT enough money in her budget, and the check request should have been sent back to the requestor (Ericka) for clarification and/or a FIX. Until her budget showed sufficient funds to cover the $4,800, according to proper procedures, a check should NOT have been cut. EVER.

So again, who's lying? Ericka and/or Sheila Shirley?

And why is Ms. Stahlberte referring Ann back to Ericka? Either a check was cut or not. Either Ericka and/or Sheila Shirley is lying.

A really easy way to verify all of this is to get an outside auditor to check into the Lawson Ledger details. Look at the vendor file for Ericka Ellis-Stewart and/or The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Check the details for the last several months, and see if a check request for the London trip has been processed and then canceled or voided. THAT is the only way to tell if a check had ever been cut or been planned to be cut.

Ann Doss Helms said...

On a total tangent, dare I ask what BFSOTP stands for? You can omit the F if it's what F often is in acronyms.

Wiley Coyote said...

Christine, Christine...

You're way over thinking this.

EE-S should come out and say who spent (or contributed) what part of the $4,800, did she in fact have a check, see a check or know of a check.

What in fact did the $4,800 cover other than airfare?

EE-S the prime "suspect" in this whole thing.

If she doesn't know, let's put her in the next LaQuinta commercial in place of the Eskimo so she can get a clue.

Anonymous said...

It's Inuit, Wiley. Eskimo is culturally offensive. If Erika had made it to London, she might have learned this during the Multicultural seminar.

Anonymous said...

Inuits weren't included on my Diversity in Education final exam but Wicca's were. I can't make this stuff up.

Pay attention, Wiley.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 4:28....

Eskimo is a term used to include the Inuit and Yupik peoples.

Some living in Canada and the Greenland areas don't like the term, much like lumping all Spanish speaking peoples in as Hispanic, yet we use Hispanic.

Some use Blacks, some use African-American.

So forgive me if my use of "Eskimo" offended you. You did get the point.

Going forward, please refer to me as being Dutch-Irish instead of White.

Thank you.

Art Van Delay

Anonymous said...

Today's Multicultural quiz:

1. What box do Inuits check? What about Canadian-Americans?

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 4:39...

Ever notice there are no Canadian restaurants in the US?

Anonymous said...

Yupik people? That must be on the Advanced Placement "Diversity in Education" final exam. I only got an A- in the "regular" class. I do have some experience with the Amish people though.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember Canadian restaurants but I did attend an elementary school near the Canadian border. We had American and Canadian flags flying at the entrance of the building. We also sang the Canadian national anthem every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance and God Bless America. Hockey was big. If Ericka had made it to London, she might have been able to learn about the finer points of Rugby.

Anonymous said...

Did you know you only have to be 10% of something to check off a special diversity box? The question is, who checks to find out if your DNA is 10% Yupik?

Christine Mast said...

Wiley, Wiley,

You're suggesting we ask the wrong person. Skip all the hoopla and go straight the to bank... Ms. Shirley. She's the one holding the purse strings, so she could set the record straight immediately.

In fact, I'll send my request for this information right now. I'll copy Ericka, just to keep her in the loop.

Anonymous said...

I read that dogs are so interbred that they can't trace their DNA to any particular region of the world. So, a labrador can't be a Viking-American and a poodle can't be French-American. Labra-doodles are still a bit of an abomination to me though. I might have to take cultural sensitivity course.

Wiley Coyote said...


Who's on first?

Anonymous said...

Christine good for you press Shirley lets see who paid for it. Wiley I agree with you in the London/Olympic trip. Chamber is always exceeding its boundries in big way. Lets see how much the DNC fiasco costs us before we start looking at summer games 20 years from now. Ericka should not be so easily influenced. I cannot beleive their was 1 person defending her. TOO easily influenced and if the Chamber is interested in education in this city they WOULD NOT send them on vacations. Ericka the puppet is exposed once again. Keith W. Hurley

Christine Mast said...

Request for canceled check or credit card statement for London plane ticket
From: Christine Mast
To: sheila.shirley
Cc: ericka.ellis-stewart
Date:Wed, Jun 20, 2012 5:14 pm

Ms. Shirley,

I would like to see the canceled or voided check that was payment for Ericka Ellis-Stewart's plane ticket / Chamber trip to London. Forgive me if I'm not using the correct terminology, as I'm unsure if a check was ever really cut. And since I don't know if it would've been payable to the Charlotte Chamber or Ericka or USAir or someone else, I'm trying to cover all the possibilities. Please know that even if I'm not asking for the correct vendor information, that you understand the spirit of what I'm asking for.

If the plane ticket (and other related costs totaling $4,800) was paid using a CMS debit or credit card, I'd like to see the statement with the charges on it. Then I'd also like to see the statement with the refunded plane ticket (and other related costs totaling $4,800) on it. I am under the impression that US Air refunded the cost of the plane ticket (since the flight was canceled), and/or that the Chamber refunded the costs of the trip?

If you're unable to produce any of these items, I would appreciate your explanation of who purchased and paid for Ericka's trip. I'd be happy to pursue these documents from them.

Thanks so much for your help.
Christine Mast

When I get a response, I'll post it here.

Anonymous said...

Wiley- As a ADULT I would assume Ericka knows what the Chamber was selling her. If I went on a "paid trip by someone else" or "vendor sponsored junket" I would know who was covering the cost. Terrible decision made by a influenced person. Ericka the "puppet" is exposed since she does not make her own decisions. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Here's an excerpt from the emails:

From: Bolyn []
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 8:35AM
To: Ericka Ellis-Stewart
Subject: Expense request OK by me

I agree with your request for the travel expenses.
You’re the face of CMS and need every opportunity to make connections.

May 23, 2012

Anonymous said...

What were you thinking?????

Christine Mast said...

On May 18, the day before the London flight was supposed to depart, Davis emailed interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh with the subject line "London."
"Any Board members going?" Davis asked.
"Eric, BOE chair is apparently leaving Saturday afternoon for London," Hattabaugh replied.

1) Why is Eric Davis asking the Superintendent about other Board members? Why doesn't he just ask the other members himself?

2) Why does the Supt. know who's going where, but a BOE member doesn't?

Open suggestion to all 9 Board of Education Members:

Communication. It's a great thing. Use it, especially to talk amongst yourselves.

Anonymous said...

5:29- Who cars what Bolyn thinks regarding this matter. We all know he supports Morgan and that means little plus big brother (chamber). He supported Ericka then tried to jump fnece when her true colors came out. (no pun intended) So he is neither a paid CMS employee nor influential citizen. His opinions and track record have been very negative towards educational needs.

Anonymous said...

Christine, thank you for all you do. You will be a WONDERFUL replacement for Rhonda Lennon. Christine in 2013!

Anonymous said...

Ericka E hyphen S is an embarrassment.
Not a surprise she gets elected in Meck county. It will only get worse.

Anonymous said...

Ericka- CMS spent close to $200,000 this past year to learn the public lacks trust in CMS. This is a free opportunity to EARN that TRUST. Provide the proof of who paid for the ticket. Its a free pass cost nothing. You do the professional thing since its all been called into question. Please dont be influenced so easily by the Chamber. Keith W. Hurley

BolynMcClung said...


First, I knew I was sending the email into a system that was open to the public.

Here's the important part. I'm not fond of the performance of Ericka as the chair. But since she's in that slot until at least January, I want her to have every opportunity to do the best she can for the school system.

I agree with the advice Ericka received from many: do it but find a way to be a responsible steward.

I posted previous to that email that the professional development for all the board is critical, since I see most of them as our least experienced public officials.

I know of no business that would not attempt to make the best of similar situations of leadership.

When I wrote that email I was sure that what is occurring today in the paper would happen. And, I am glad to again have the opportunity to stress again that for this board and all future boards that opportunities like the trip to London must be part of the Board of Education experience.

Bolyn McClung

PS: I'd do it again

Wiley Coyote said...

Here is a very interesting piece written by Ron Stodghill on Dec 1, 2011, about the Chamber trip and a little history behind these jaunts.

Read it, then jump to the present and the 64 people who were going on this trip.

It's plain to see that while there is some merit in our Chamber going places to sell Charlotte and what we have to offer, this yearly "vacation" has gotten out of control.

Only the very top leaders should be going anywhere on these trips and there should be something to show for it after some period of time.

Just for kicks, what return on investment have we received for the last ten junkets?

Bill Stevens said...

Bolyn, the only reason Ericka will make to till next January as chair is because the uptown power brokers will bow to Kojo's demands or he will embarrass the city in front of the DNC.

It appears Ericka is party to fraud here. Getting a straight answer now will be like that congressional committee getting a straight answer from Eric Holder.

Anonymous said...

More smoke and mirrors from CMeS

Follow the Money

Trust but verify ehh Heath

Anonymous said...

Bill- 110% correct with your assesment. I hope the "puppet" EES comes clean as this is the opp.. I doubt se will since she is now "entitled". Once again a bad endorsement by Bolyn and he still supports Chamber trip. That air they breath on Tryon street !

Bill Stevens said...

4:47, sorry but Ericka does not have the mindset to "come clean". As I have preached here before, we are dealing with a subculture with an incompatible value set for an advanced civilization.

Anonymous said...



I'll take a shot..

BFS - Black Female (S?)
OTP - On The Podium?

Chuck from Cramerton said...

If nothing else, Marilyn Monson gets kudos for professionalism and organizational skills in her role at the Chamber. She looks to be very efficient, and somewhat of an early bird. Emails at 4:00 - 5:00 a.m.!

Second kudos for a great list of email contacts in the trip cancellation emails. I would have thought those would be redacted since many on the list are not public employees.

Christine Mast said...

As I promised, when I received an answer from Ms. Shirley, regarding my request to see the check for Ericka's trip to London, here is her answer:

Hi Ms. Mast,

A check payable to the Charlotte Chamber was cut on April 2, 2012 as requested by the Superintendent. Funds were available in the board's total travel budget line item.

The check was held by the Superintendent pending board authorization which would have occurred in one of two ways:
1)Individual board members transferring their available travel funds to cover the remaining amount needed, or
2)Full board approval of the expenditure in an open meeting

Neither of these occurred, thus the check was not released and has been voided.
Per your request, I have attached a copy of the original check.


Wiley Coyote said...

Then who paid the $4,800?

Christine Mast said...

Here's the Facebook exchange between me and BOE Member Rhonda Lennon:

Mast for CMS --‎ Rhonda Garner Lennon, my last outstanding question on this issue is WHO PAID FOR HER PLANE TICKET THEN? Obviously, someone did, or she wouldn't have been able to board the plane. Did the Chamber pay for it, with intentions of being paid back by CMS? Can you find out the answer to that question? Thanks.Saturday at 10:37am

Rhonda Garner Lennon -- it is my understanding that all arrangements for the entire $4800 travel package were paid for by the Charlotte Chamber and then the individuals were invoiced for the amount. Then checks were cut to the Chamber, not the indivudual vendors (hotel, airlines, meals, etc). Much like you pay a travel agent for a package trip, not the individual vendors.Yesterday at 10:11am

Rhonda Garner Lennon -- Christine, I was told by a senior staff member on Friday prior to the trip leaving that the Chair was reminded that the Supt would not release the check to pay the Chamber until the Chair had done one of 2 things: Gotten board members to transfer their travel monies into her account or Vote in open session to authorize this expenditure as a "board expense" (she was instructed about his on numerous occasions according to staff.) I asked what happens if she goes on the trip tomorrow and doesn't have the money in her travel budget- the answer was succinct-- she is liable for the amount over her travel budget unless she gets a transfer or asks in open session for approval of the board. I was told that an individual member of the board cannot indebt CMS without open session approval. If the trip was within her budget it wouldn't have been an issue.Yesterday at 10:16am · 

Rhonda Garner Lennon -- I am happy to share with you any information regarding this issue, as I am very frustrated that the staff members involved are being portrayed as having made mistakes or violations of policy. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE!!!! Policy was followed by all involved at the staff level. The entire situation rests soley on one person-- the Board Chair- her judgement, her actions, her decisions.Yesterday at 10:20am