Local News

Durham Mayor Calls For Audit To Look At City Manager's Handling Of Contracts

Posted November 12, 2002 9:53 a.m. EST

— Durham's mayor and other city officials want answers from City Manager Marcia Conner about her handling of city contracts.

Conner recently admitted that she did not follow the city's policies and procedures when signing off on contracts. She accepted a contract bid from the Marshall Group, whose owner is a former colleague of Conner.

Conner is taking her side of the story public. In a letter to the editors of

the Herald-Sun

and the

News & Observer

this weekend, Conner wrote, "As your City Manager, I accept full responsibility for recent questions regarding compliance with city contracting policies."

Durham City Councilor John Best said Conner's mishandling of city contracts is shortchanging local businesses.

"Not only have these contracts not followed the procedures that are in place, they have also been given to people outside of the Durham area, even outside of the state of North Carolina," city councilor John Best said.

In a move to get to the bottom of Conner's handling of 800 city contracts, Mayor Bill Bell is calling for an audit. In a statement released Monday, Bell said, "I am specifically interested in general, a sampling of all contracts implemented throughout the city, and those specifically intiated by the City Manager's office since March 15th, 2001."

"If there is a problem, they need to be assured that the Council is going to get a hold of it and find a solution for it," Bell said.

Bell has called for a closed session of the Durham City Council next Monday to discuss the results of the audit and Conner's handling of the contracts.

Conner was also instrumental in the hiring of Gregory Watkins, who resigned as the city's new police chief before his first day on the job. However, the firm Conner hired to conduct the search process did not know about a prior allegation of domestic violence involving Watkins.