Reality Check: Prichard city council members talk to NBC 15 about city finances
PRICHARD, Ala. (WPMI) —
After a chaotic city council meeting in Prichard, NBC 15 News took your concerns to the people you voted into office.
We asked city council members why they didn't address the embezzlement issue involving the mayor's former Chief of Staff James Blackman.
"I wouldn't say we didn't want to talk about it. It was just so much going on at the time that we, first of all, had to digest everything that was said and everything that was going on," District 4 councilwoman Samantha Richardson said.
Richardson who's also the chairperson of the finance committee says she had no idea Blackman was allegedly stealing funds.
"I know for myself I was very hurt. I even cried about it because this is someone we built a work relationship with," she said.
We also went to councilwoman Severia Campbell-Morris' home to get answers.
She invited us in to sit down and talk.
"The people of Prichard feel like they're not really getting answers when it comes to the council about this embezzlement case. Did you know about it before hand?" we asked.
"No we did not," she said.
Morris says the finance committee meets every second Tuesday of the month and they get to look at the city's financial reports.
"We get a chance to look at them. We get a chance to go through them. But like I've always said, we're not experts in this area," she said.
And because of that Morris says she wants a thorough investigation. She's calling for a forensic audit to look at the city's finances all the way back to 2016.
"It needs to continue to be investigated. If there's something else that needs to be found, let it all come out," she said. "Let it come out right now. I agree with the citizens. We don't have that kind of money and we don't need anyone around us who's stealing."
Both Richardson and Morris say they understand citizens are upset and right now they're trying to figure out the best way to move forward.
"At this point I'm looking for solutions," Richardson said. "We can't find solutions if we're bickering back and forth. We may not agree with each other, but we can come to the table."
Richardson says they're in the process of reviewing all policies and procedures when it comes to the city's finances.