|Fetch Your News:
I am writing this letter in response to statements made by Liz Ordiales, mayoral candidate for the City of Hiawassee, during a recent interview with Fetch Your News, and in response to ongoing statements made by Ms. Ordiales. At first, I had wished to remain silent publicly on this matter as I have since 2013, but I draw the line at defending myself when Ms. Ordiales’ denials include ad hominem attacks on me personally.
First of all, I stand behind my statements in my letter dated and first published on March 1, 2013 which can be found at http://www.townscountyfirecorps.org/
The irregularities I observed by the Towns County Fire Corps are outlined in this letter. While the letter was not directed at any individual board member, and was not specifically directed at Ms. Ordiales, it notes that the conduct at issue was approved by various board members at various times. Nevertheless, as noted in the letter, Ms. Ordiales was the President of the Fire Corps and the irregularities were committed under her direction.
Contrary to the assertions by Ms. Ordiales, I did not join the group for financial gain. Such an allegation is absurd. No one would join this board for financial gain because there is no lawful way to derive any significant financial benefit from participation with the board. People who serve on this board and other boards like it, including myself, generally do so to help the community. Based on the hours involved with being on the board, there clearly is no financial incentive for anyone to be on the board. Further, my 25 years of public service in public safety, a majority of which has been in voluntary unpaid positions hardly points to financial gain.
After there was no other resource available, I offered to assist with the Fire Corps website for free as long as it was a simple matter. Ms. Ordiales, however, repeatedly complicated and delayed the project and in fact caused the domain to expire. In order to preserve the information on the website, I invested more than thirty hours over a weekend on a deadline downloading the data before it was scheduled to be deleted. For my efforts, I submitted a bill to the Board for $50 including $10 for the annual domain registration fee. This fee was negligible based on the time I invested in preserving the website. The bill for my time was more of the principal of the matter since Ms. Ordiales kept claiming that the website transfer was “simple and easy.” Apparently, not so, at least for Ms. Ordiales.
Rather than paying my modest invoice, Ms. Ordiales and other board members refused to honor the invoice. I gave her and the Board the opportunity to pay the invoice several times in writing, but Ms. Ordiales insisted on not paying for the extensive work caused by her inattentiveness and mismanagement of the matter. As a result, I retained the domain, which I had every legal right to do. Ms. Ordiales ultimately consulted with an attorney. Apparently, the Board realized that they were required to honor my invoice and that I had the legal rights to the domain, and they finally offered to pay for me for my services and for the domain including a penalty fee for my grief and aggravation. By that time, months later, however, I was exhausted with the matter and the Towns County Fire Corps lost their opportunity to resolve the matter. At no time, as Ms. Ordiales asserts, did I ever hold the website URL hostage. It is interesting to note that Fetch Your News would never have discovered my resignation letter published on the internet at the Towns County Fire Corps original website without my continued ownership of the web domain which was only made possible by the mismanagement of the domain by Ms. Ordiales. The posting of my letter of resignation on the original Towns County Fire Corps website URL was my right to do so as legal owner of the domain.
On the website issue, the bottom line is what Ms. Ordiales cannot escape from is the fact she mismanaged the entire process and she lost the domain registration. The Towns County Fire Corps no longer has any rights to it. I am under no obligation to turn it over to the Fire Corps, legally or ethically. This issue was created by Ms. Ordiales’ incompetent management of the website process and Ms. Ordiales’ and the board’s refusal to pay a valid minor debt and her continued behavior only exacerbates the situation and jeopardizes the Towns County Fire Corps ever regaining control of it.
The reasons that I resigned from the Town County Fire Corps board are clearly stated in my letter from March 1, 2013. Those reasons had nothing to do with the unpaid invoice for $50, which was allegedly for financial gain as Ms. Ordiales alleges. I am currently working on my third retirement, after first retiring at 40 years of age, so believe me when I say $50 is not going to change the quality of my life. Months earlier, I had in fact communicated in writing with other Board members of my plan to resign, and I had clarified my reasons for doing so (which are the same reasons as stated in the letter from March 1, 2013). All of these original related emails and supporting documentation have been preserved by me for legal purposes.
For example, in an email dated October 23, 2012, 6 months prior, I wrote to Ms. Ordiales and the board members stating that “I have numerous concerns over how the corporate formalities are being handled, all of which this board was installed to change from the previous board. It is not an excuse to say ‘this is a small town’ or ‘this is in the mountains.’ This is a Non-Profit Organization and there are rules governing appropriate behavior under various state and federal regulations.” The original purpose of this email was to ask why my corrections to the meeting minutes were not corrected from a previous Board session prior to a vote on the subsequent approval of those minutes.
I think the issues outlined in my correspondence on the record are a larger pattern of ongoing conduct that speaks to Ms. Ordiales lack of good judgment and good corporate governance. This should be a concern of all residents of the City of Hiawassee. I am a former federal agent, fraud investigator and regulatory consultant that was out on the international public speaking circuit for more than 15 years, I recognize bad governance when I see it. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, there were ethical violations related to Ms. Ordiales’ usage of the City of Hiawassee logo on campaign correspondence and placing her campaign sign on a county firetruck during the Halloween festivities on the square and then being asked to remove it not once but twice after the sign was relocated on the same fire truck a second time after the first warning.
The board members, including Ms Ordiales, have known about the assertions in the March 1, 2013, letter for more than four years. Nevertheless, the members of the board, including Ms. Ordiales, completely failed to respond to those assertions until October 2017, which was only in response to inquiries from the media. Moreover, the only response was from Ms. Ordiales who has still not addressed the substance of those assertions, but rather asserts a motive for my letter which is patently false, as indicated by the contents of the letter. The public record contains no response whatsoever to the assertions in my 2013 letter, including irregularities with voting, failing to appoint a financial controller (and Ms. Ordiales now notes that she has raised $250,000, which raises heightened concerns for proper accounting), altered board meeting minutes, arbitrary or excessive expenditures, fund raising violations, pre-signing of blank checks, lack of vendor approval process, poor planning, unilateral decision making, etc. It should also be noted that I was not the only officer to resign from the same board over similar issues. In addition, there was independent corroboration of these issues by an insurance company which refused to underwrite Officer and Director insurance for the board. Instead, Ms. Ordiales has chosen instead to embark on an ad hominem attack on me to divert attention from the serious problems within the Towns County Fire Corps under the leadership of Ms. Ordiales, an organization that I felt compelled to resign from solely for ethical reasons.