EDEN — Citizens packed the Eden City Council chambers Tuesday night including two local women who told the mayor and council members they expect more transparency and explanation about how the former city manager got away with embezzling.

Alice McBride asked why convicted former city manager Brad Corcoran had such easy access to the City of Eden’s credit card.

“I do have some concerns as to why a city employee is allowed to take a credit card that belongs to the city out of town,’’ said McBride, a 55-year resident of Eden. “So I’d like to see some kind of restrictions on the ease of which you have the credit card in your hand.’’

Speaking immediately after Mayor Neville Hall announced an independent audit of Corcoran’s expenditures while city manager, McBride said, “The audit that’s going to be done… I want to know if it’s going to be published for everybody to get a copy to read it if you want to?’’

McBride further asked about Corcoran’s accrual of sick leave time and pay, adding, “I need to know are there any other employees in this city that have any clause (sick leave accrual) similar to Brad’s?’’

Fellow Eden resident Dot Bush took to the podium next with strong warnings for the council and mayor.

“I was totally shocked at the criminal theft Brad committed against the taxpayers of Eden. Unlike you, though, I have no fiduciary responsibility to these citizens. You do. That responsibility to us has not been met over the past 13 years,’’ said Bush, who spoke for six minutes. She was allowed three minutes extra time because a fellow concerned citizen yielded his public comment time to her.

“This malfeasance is unacceptable,’’ Bush said. “You may have forgotten, and a lot of politicians do, but you all work at the pleasure of the taxpayers. In other words, you work for us. And you should never forget that. We deserve the respect and transparency from every single person who works for the City of Eden,” said Bush, who received hearty applause from the audience at the conclusion of her speech.

Despite Hall’s earlier attempts to allay concerns about Corcoran, Bush said, “Now, as far as I know, No, Brad was never truly arrested, charged, bonded. And how unlike us, he certainly didn’t have a mugshot in the media did he?’’ Bush said.

“For this governing body to accept only $20,000 restitution is still a puzzle to me,’’ she said of the council. “So the most shocking issue is Brad’s pay … which was a burden to the taxpayers and a betrayal of trust to the citizens. Because we knew nothing about this, nothing. Since 2006, 13 years, from my understanding, Brad’s salary was based so that every month he worked, he got an extra weeks’s sick vacation pay. The term sick/vacation pay was just a cover up for how much he really was actually paid. That should never have happened. So every year since 2006, Brad received 12 months regular pay and an extra 12 weeks pay for work not performed. Thirteen years. No wonder he could afford two expensive homes. Maybe we all could if we made that kind of money,’’ Bush said.

“What I don’t understand is why the council didn’t review this financial report every month. Why would you wait once a year?’’ Bush said. “Why didn’t every manager of every department? Surely all these people knew about his deal, but not the citizens.’’

“It’s unacceptable to me for a city manager of a small town of 15,000 people to make this kind of salary,’’ Bush said. “It’s just totally unacceptable.’’

“Thank goodness someone came forward and blew the whistle on Brad or this could have continued indefinitely, and we taxpayers would have never known. This couldn’t have been have been a simple mistake. It couldn’t have been. Many here must have known about Brad’s deal. Therein lies the distrust the citizens of Eden are feeling.’’

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Susie C. Spear is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. She can be reached at 743-333-4101 and on Twitter @SusieSpear_RCN.

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