Stevens says unethical behavior led to resignation from Aviation Authority

By Matt Tomsic
Published July 29, 2013

Former airports director Sue Stevens said she stepped down because of unethical behavior and condescension by some Charleston County Aviation Authority board members whenever she refused to “play ball.”

“I had invested significant time and effort to ensure the success of the aviation authority but can no longer turn my head to what appear to be serious improprieties and unethical behavior,” Stevens wrote in an email sent Monday to Charleston County Aviation Authority board members. “I stated that the changes to the composition of the board since 2007 have made my job intolerable.”

Stevens met with board Chairman Andy Savage and aviation authority attorney Arnold Goodstein on July 22. Her attorney, Nancy Bloodgood, also was present, and they discussed Stevens’ exit from the airport effective Sept. 30. Later that evening, Savage sent an email announcing the departure. The next day, however, Savage said Stevens would begin paid leave starting Monday. Deputy Director Bill New took over on an interim basis.

In her email, Stevens recounted the July 22 conversation, saying they discussed the authority’s land sale to the Boeing Co., the terminal redevelopment project and the bond issue for the project. Stevens said her departure shouldn’t affect those projects.

She also addressed what she had said to Savage during their meeting last week and his choice of words in his emails announcing her departure.

Stevens wrote, “I then explained the reasons for my departure, which have nothing to do with civility or ‘verbal abuse.’ This term was not used by me or my attorney.”

Some board members treated Stevens “in a condescending and demeaning manner when I refused to ‘play ball,’” she wrote, adding that those board members have accused her of breaking rules and not complying with the board’s policies.

“These attacks were made to intimidate me with the hope that I would turn my head to the actions of particular board members,” Stevens wrote. “In order to protect my professional reputation, I felt that I had no choice but to separate my employment.”

Stevens also criticized Savage for sending an email announcing her departure before she had an opportunity to address her staff.

“I asked to have the opportunity to meet with senior staff before my departure was made public,” Stevens wrote. “Instead, the entire staff learned about my departure on the local news at 11 p.m. Tuesday evening. ... I am not aware of what happened after our meeting to change the course of events as they have played out over the last several days.”

Stevens said in the email that she has not filed a lawsuit and hopes to resolve the matter amicably.

Contact Matt Tomsic at 843-849-3144.

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