CHA Receiver’s First Report

A report by Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) receiver Judy Weber last week revealed a number of changes that have taken place over the last month, and perhaps, a number of contentious meetings that have also taken place in the wholesale clean-up effort.

Weber presented her first monthly report to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) concerning the month’s activities and the outlook for January’s activities.

First and foremost, she revealed that none of the existing personnel have been terminated yet, though there have been some key meetings with personnel who have come under fire lately in media reports.

“All current employee agreements are being reviewed and none have been changed to date,” she wrote.

According to the report, some people she has met with are former CHA accountant Jim McNichols, representatives from Century Bank, Paul Nowicki, Jacqui Matos (housing manager and CHA tenant) and Linda Thibodeau (assistant executive director for housing).

First and foremost, she reported that the CHA has restored its funding from the state and federal government – which had been frozen after the fallout of last November. That has allowed them to pay their bills and take care of day-to-day operations.

One major piece of work was hiring Certified Public Accountant Ronald Urlaub, a renowned public housing accounting expert. Urlaub did a complete analysis of the CHA’s existing internal controls and financial positions. That was done on Dec. 19th and 20th and the report will come out later this month.

That report is expected to detail a number of problems that existed internally and allowed so many problems to occur undetected.

Weber has established Al Ewing as the interim director of the CHA, and they are reviewing the 2012 budget – receiving an extension from the state in order to file it later than normal. The CHA has also retained two attorneys on a pro bono basis, Hollis Young – who recently retired as the general counsel to the Boston Housing Authority – and Richard Bluestein, of Krokidas & Bluestein.

In addition, Weber and Ewing have been reaching out into the community and meeting with City Manager Jay Ash, Gladys Vega of the Collaborative, David Keene of Chelsea Neighborhood Developers and Suffolk University Legal Services.

One of the major duties in January and February will be appointing a new Board of Directors to govern the CHA. All members of the previous Board resigned last year amidst the meltdown of the agency.

So far, City Manager Ash and a panel that includes the City Solicitor, a former City Councillor, the City Housing Manager and a resident have recommended two distinguished candidates.

According to the report, those candidates could be approved by the Jan. 23rd City Council meeting.

The candidates are Barbara Salisbury, a long-time Chelsea resident who is the former state Budget Director and the former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is currently the CEO of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind.

The second candidate is Thomas Standish, who has lived in Chelsea for 10 years and is the former commissioner of the Connecticut Public Utilities Commission.

There are two more appointments that the City will be making to the Board, and those are expected to be completed by February.

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