A top administrator for the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority who was fired in June tried to clear her name at a board meeting Thursday.
Teresa Sims shared a statement to deny what she called “stigmatizing allegations” made against her by the agency’s executive director, Todd Johnston.
She said he made the allegations against her in retaliation for her “good faith reporting of Johnston’s gross mismanagement, abuse of authority and misuse of public funds to this body.”
Former employees can seek a name-clearing hearing if the nature of their firing leaves them with a stigma that can prevent them from future employment opportunities.
Sims had served as the agency’s deputy director since 2011. She supervised the federal housing choice voucher program staff and oversaw parts of human resources.
Sims was put on leave in April 2018 while an internal investigation took place to determine whether she falsified records to secure affordable housing for her son, Benjamin Navidad, who was also a housing authority employee.
Sims was fired in June following the conclusion of the investigation into her conduct.
In her statement to the board, Sims denied engaging in fraud and collusion to receive public benefits for her son.
She argued that she had no motive to falsify a form for her son that determines if a household is income eligible to live in a tax credit unit.
She said the form was forged, but not by her. She said her defense was dismissed by Johnston in her termination letter and that the accusation has defamed her.
“I am left feeling like an accused witch whose only way of proving her innocence is to drown,” Sims told the board.
She also denied conflict of interest accusations made by Johnston in her termination letter.
“Johnston’s allegations are his attempt to discredit me and humiliate me and distract this body from his own wrongdoing,” Sims said.
“I hope you keep an open mind and rectify the stigmatizing accusations made against me and repair the harm done to me in the name of NOHA,” she said.
Johnston declined to comment.
Sims filed a $1 million lawsuit against the housing authority in February. She alleges Johnston retaliated against her for speaking out about unlawful hiring practices and mismanagement of funds.
However, investigators hired by the housing authority determined her claims were unfounded and her labor complaints were dismissed by the state Bureau of Labor and Industries.
A trial is scheduled for January.