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Fired bus system chief accuses board members of misconduct

January 27, 2021 GMT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The former head of the Savannah area’s bus system has accused the board and some former transit system leaders of breaking rules following her firing on Tuesday.

Chatham Area Transit directors voted 6-3 on Tuesday to fire CEO and Executive Director Bacarra Mauldin, local news outlets reported. Mauldin, who was hired in June, had previously worked for the regional transit authority of New Orleans.

CAT Board Chairman Deidrick Cody declined to say why Mauldin was fired. Some other board members said Mauldin had a bad relationship with board members.

But opponents of her firing said it was a mistake.

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“I’m disappointed that we can’t recognize success and leadership when it comes to our town and I just hope we can really find it within ourselves to reconcile with what we’ve done and figure out a way to move forward,” said one supporter of Mauldin, Vice Chairman Clinton Edminster.

Mauldin accused the board of a “witch hunt” and suggested it broke its own and Federal Transit Authority procurement rules in the hiring of a law firm and also broke the state open meetings law.

“Since my arrival at CAT, I have been a target because I was cleaning up the mess I found and discovering inconsistencies in the way funding was being managed,” Mauldin said in a statement.

She also said she discovered that two unnamed former executives have authorized extra COVID-19 pay for themselves and other administrators that should have gone to bus drivers.

“These executives resigned after this was uncovered and the Board did not require repayment of this money,” Mauldin said.

Chief Administrative Officer David Stearns was appointed by the board to temporarily lead the system. Board members plan to meet again to select a permanent replacement.

Mauldin questioned why two new board members voted to fire her at her first meeting, suggesting the firing had been plotted in private in defiance of the state open meetings law.

“I am stunned by their decision, but it is clear that transparency has not been practiced here, and there may be a violation of the Open Meetings Act.”