Well it has been a while since posting anything about our favorite subject. A lot has happened since our local public housing authority’s (PHA) former Executive Director, Dolly Newman quit without prior notice on November 30, 2010, just as all of her mismanagement began to catch up to her.
Good News! Given all they have blundered on, the HADCO Board of Commissioners make an excellent decision when they voted unanimously in December 2010 to name HADCO’s Section 8 Director as their Interim Executive Director. This is the second time Ms. Ambrosini has had to take the helm temporarily after an unqualified Executive Director mismanaged our local public housing agency. (For those who don’t remember Dolly Newman replaced Tonja Eli who was allowed to resign under threat of termination for problems she caused, which included using the company credit card to make personal purchases. *Note Chris Spens has been their to oversee both these EDs) However this time the mess she has to clean up is a lot worse than the one left by Ms. Newman’s predecessor. The good news here is Ms. Ambrosini’s appointment.
Good news! One of the first things she did was overturn HADCO’s hearing officer’s decision regarding Amber Powell whom we discussed in our last blog post. Ms. Ambrosini not only stopped the pending eviction back in December, she reviewed Ms. Powell’s whole file and found that HADCO had overcharged Ms. Powell for rent. HADCO ended up owing Ms. Powell about $3,000. So not only was their grounds for evicting her not valid, one of the things that started her problems with HADCO was found to be the public housing manager and her boss’ mistake, not the resident’s. Keep in mind that this case had already been appealed to Dolly Newman when she was still the Executive Director, and even HADCO Board of Commissioners who refused to set the decision aside because three of them refused to even look at the resident’s claim. (Some help with this must also go to U.S. Senator Merkely’s office who has helped us get some accountability through HUD as well as HADCO). However Ms. Ambrosini did not stop there, she has also taken the leadership to review the management practices of the public housing program where a lot of the problems arose.
Good news! Since being appointed to the Interim ED position, Jamie Ambrosini has been working diligently to unravel a big financial mess created by Ms. Newman.
Bad news! One of the things that she discovered what that Ms. Newman misallocated public housing money that HADCO receives from HUD, to cover the losses that exist in another program (Multi-housing). Our public housing agency gets money from a few different sources to provide low-income housing in our community. The rules of the traditional HUD Section 8 and public housing programs do not allow commingling of funds or employee positions. However, Ms. Newman took money from the public housing program to create positions to serve the Multi-family housing projects, which violates federal law.
Bad news! At the last HADCO Board of Commission meeting the HADCO Board voted to approve refinancing of one their housing projects in order to repay the public housing fund $57,000 misappropriated from it by Ms. Newman. This is a matter of public record. You just need to listen to the January 2011 HADCO Board Meeting. I will be writing more about the financial dealings of HADCO’s former ED in future postings. However, I did meet with the Interim Executive Director last week to get a better understanding of the extent of Ms. Newman’s misuse of public funds. Suffice to say for now, that the taxpayer will not be happy.
Good news! Ms. Ambrosini has shown she understands the concepts of government accountability and transparency and has done a great job in trying to find and solve the problems left by Ms. Newman.
Good news! Some of the folks who supported Ms. Newman and her actions are no longer working at HADCO either. This includes positions that were illegal created such as the Maintence Supervisor position that was claimed to be for public housing but spent most time, when working at all, on the multi-family projects. It also includes an unneeded supervisor for the public housing managers, who was responsible for making and carrying out many of the policies we objected to on behalf of residents. So no matter the reason, these folks will not be using our tax dollars to abuse our low-income residents.
Good news: Ms. Ambrosini meet with our group of residents and others recently to try to resolve some of the 0n-going conflict perpetuated by Ms. Newman. Everyone was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and we are now a lot more positive about the direction of our public housing agency. Most important is Ms. Ambrosini’s willingness to try to find common ground with us, so we can all start working in a positive direction.
Bad news! Three of the HADCO Commissioners who allowed Ms. Newman to run HADCO as she pleased have not yet been held accountable. They do not have to replace the $57,000, we the taxpayer’s do.
Good news! We have evidence that Ms. Newman lied in her 11th hour resignation letter about having a new job. We suspected that she made that up to reduce the problems she might have folks who seemed to have an undying loyalty to her, or more importantly to try to hide from them and others the real reason she left so abruptly.
Bad News! The evidence is that she was not employed until January 29, 2011 when she accepted a job as the housing director for the housing authority of the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Someone gave us a heads up about this by posting a question to our blog post about Ms. Newman’s resignation letter. I have since confirmed that she is there and started the first of the month.
So how did Douglas County’s problem become Albuquerque’s problem? We are trying to find out. It seems highly unlikely that Albuquerque would hire her without a reference from someone at HADCO. We know it was not the Interim ED. We also know that the HADCO Board of Commissioners never decided to give her a reference. We know it was not Commissioner Jamie Sanchez. We are now asking the other HADCO Board members and requesting public records to find out if anyone did. Let’s hope that we do not find out that one or more of our current public officials did so even as individuals. So the bad news is for Albuquerque. However, they have now been informed about who they hired. Let’s hope a majority of their new housing authority board takes their oversight a bit more responsiblity than a majority of our’s has.
Good News! Without Dolly Newman, HADCO has a chance to become a public housing authority we can all be proud of.
Bad News! It might not happen even then if we don’t get a majority of HADCO Commissioners who understand what their job is and take appropriate oversight responsibilities.
Good News! One more simple step is needed to make a dramatic positive change at HADCO. Chris Spens’ seat on the HADCO Commission is up for appointment, so we have a real chance to make a different future for HADCO. We now have the opportunity to change the composition of the HADCO Board. Get Spens out and replace him with someone who will exercise due diligence in overseeing the program and who cares about the people who the program is there to serve. It is just that simple.
This is not all that has been going on, but it is enough updates for now. More to come in the near future.