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PEDC chair says charges of inconsistency are 'false'

PEDC Chair Rebecca Clifford updating city council on forensic investigation on June 3, 2014
PEDC Chair Rebecca Clifford updating city council on forensic investigation on
June 3, 2014

PEDC Chair Rebecca Clifford has said the mayor’s allegation of inconsistencies in her reporting about the investigation into Paris Economic Development Corp. is false.

“There were no discrepancies between what I was told by Mr. Defenbaugh and what I reported to the City Council,” Clifford said Monday in a written memo to the City Council and PEDC board members. “There do appear to be inconsistencies, but the inconsistencies are not with my report.”

The PEDC board is set to discuss the investigation and a $21,075 invoice from Defenbaugh & Associates when it meets at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the community room of the Depot.

In a June 23 meeting, Mayor Matt Frierson said he had had a phone conversation with Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Grossnickle, City Manager John Godwin, City Attorney Kent McIlyar and investigator Danny Defenbaugh. As a result of that meeting, Frierson said Defenbaugh reported that Clifford instructed him not to produce any written reports.

Clifford said the report she gave to the council in early June was screened by Defenbaugh for accuracy, and he OK’d it.

“As per the contract between PEDC and Defenbaugh & Associates, I was provided a weekly oral status report,” she wrote. “I never received a written report from Mr. Defenbaugh, and I never instructed Mr. Defenbaugh not to provide a written report to me.”

She also said that Defenbaugh was told in the phone conversation “to wait for further direction before proceeding.” She said the investigation should have been completed in mid-June if not for the “interruptions.”

Frierson has denied any interference from the city in the investigation.

“I was not a part of the conversation that members of the City Council and city staff had with Mr. Defenbaugh, so I cannot confirm what was or was not said,” Clifford wrote.

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include:

  • A report from the executive director search committee.
  • Discussion and possible action on “tax abatement and incentive agreement compliance.”
  • Possible action on PEDC’s line of credit with Capital One.
  • Discussion and possible action on roof leaks at the Depot.
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