By Clint Parker- The bunk continues in Buncombe County government as new indictments hit former County Manager Wanda Greene last week in the form of a life insurance scheme and now current County Manager Mandy Stone has suddenly retired from her position. Greene has seemingly tainted those at the top of county government. Whether that’s a fair or unfair view of others in highest positions in county government, it’s just a fact of how they are now viewed.
People with good reputations in county government are now viewed with suspicion of “what did they know and when did they know it.” This latest reported multimillion dollar insurance scheme to allegedly defraud the Buncombe County taxpayers of their hard earned finances begs an additional question, “Where else is the corruption in Buncombe County government?”
Now, Buncombe County Manager Mandy Stone has retired from her position this past Friday (June 8). This after the Tribune/Leader broke the story that her office was raided by FBI agents the same day as her retirement was verbally given to Buncombe County Commission Chairman Brownie Newman. Newman Monday morning (June 11) after a specially called meeting where the board announced Stone’s retirement, would not confirm the raid, but also did not deny it either when asked.
Stone was one of the employees at the county who received one of the life insurance policies from Greene and has since turned over the policy to county. She also has been named by the county as the formerly unnamed employee who said former Buncombe County Commission Chairman David Gantt knew about the life insurance policies.
According to two anonymous sources on Monday morning, the FBI had Stone’s office locks changed. The Tribune/Leader asked if they could photograph Stone’s office door Monday and were told no. When asked if the office locks had been changed by the FBI, a county official told the Tribune/Leader, “No comment.” So much for transparency in county government.
More questions swirl around county government and those elected to oversee it like whose office will the FBI raid and lock out next? However, no question is bigger than how did Greene get away with so much for so long? Ah, by being the most giving person in county government to those who could have easily seen the money she was taking, if it hadn’t been for the money she was giving to them.
Now, I’m not saying that she was paying people off, but if you develop a retention program to retain top employees and then shell out millions in retention pay or bonuses…well it just stands to reason when you’re one of those top employees, you ought to get that pay too, right? Nothing underhanded to see here. “I created the program to benefit the county from losing key personnel, and I’m one too,” so Greene’s action seemed to indicate.
When you buy life insurance policies for a select few with money you hid in a lawsuit settlement, well you naturally should buy the ones with cash value attached, and if you don’t know, those are the more expensive policies. Term is the cheapest of life insurance, but they don’t have any cash value to them, only paying off when the insured person dies. But the more pricey one has cash value, that’s a whole life policy. “Only the best for the top personnel in the county, and I’m one too,” so Greene’s action seemed to indicate.
No, Greene appears to have created programs to benefit others. Gift cards, retention programs, and life insurance programs that helped hide the real intention…lining her own pockets. When a program wasn’t practical or increases to the budget would bust the already inflated budget, Greene was there to save the day by moving money from one place to another at will, her will. Keeping everyone happy and dumb.
The folks you voted to oversee the county government, well they were all seemingly asleep at the wheel of the USS Buncombe County. Allowing the largest government in Western North Carolina to be steered right toward the iceberg that was Wanda Greene. These folks like to pretend to be so smart about this large and rich county fat off the taxpayers’ money…that is until something goes wrong and then they all either play dumb or are dumb and had no idea it was going on.
Now, those left aboard the foundering ship are busy rearranging the deck chairs to look nice as Buncombe’s taxpayers look for life preservers as the financial waters of mismanagement and embezzlement continue to rise.
Fortunately, for these elected servants of the people, county taxpayers are used to high taxes which they have been led to believe are the norm. And as long as those in power can manage to navigate the wreckage strewn waters of new indictments, retirements and resignations, that are the aftermath of the Greene legacy, they’ll probably come out the other side of the storm with their jobs intact. They can fool the voters into putting them back in their high and lofty seats of nice salaries and good benefits. They just need to keep quiet about the entire matter every chance they get and all will be well and the only losers will be the taxpayers of Buncombe County. It’s just more bunk for Buncombe!