Receivership Looks to Put Its Feet Up and Stay Awhile Longer

Receivership at the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) could go over the 90-day, Feb. 21, deadline if Gov. Deval Patrick doesn’t soon find an appointee for the troubled-agency’s rebuilt Board of Directors.

The prospect of that happening, though, seems fairly slim as it was revealed last week in CHA Receiver Judith Weber’s monthly report that the governor is going back to the drawing board in the process.

So far, receivership in Chelsea has been like an unwanted guest at Christmas dinner – something most everyone in charge can’t wait to see leave. The CHA scandal and accompanying receivership order has been bad news for a City that has gotten used to mostly good news for the past several years – and that coming only after decades of downright depressing news.

With all that in mind, City leaders and state leaders have expedited the process as much as they can – acting carefully, but also quickly.

City Manager Jay Ash assembled a thoughtful committee to choose new board members from the community – a key to getting the CHA back operating without the oversight of a receiver.

This past Monday, the City Council approved two more of Ash’s appointments to the Board after conducting interviews with both men.

Bertram Taverna, a City capital projects manager who  is vice president of the local chapter of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), was okayed by councillors. His appointment satisfied the state requirement of having a representative of organized labor on the Board.

Secondly, Donald Kingsbury got the nod from the Council on Monday.

Kingsbury is a federal tenant of the CHA, living in the Margolis Apartments since 2008. A transplant from Maine, Kingsbury has overseen financial matters in county government up there, and is currently the president of the Chelsea Veterans Council.

Those two newest members of the Board join Barbara Salisbury and Thomas Standish, who were appointed last month.

With four new members, the City now only has to wait for Gov. Patrick to make the fifth and final appointment, but that’s just where the potential slowdown seems to be taking place.

In her monthly report to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), filed last week, Weber reported that the state plans to reopen its search for a Board member – and the process could take as long as two months.

Because of that delay, it appears the guest no one wanted – that being receivership of the CHA – might be putting its feet up and hunkering down for a longer-than-expected stay.

“The Commonwealth has decided to reopen its selection process for the state appointee to the Board,” read the report. “It expects this process will be completed in approximately 60 days.”

Ash said he believes the termination could come by the end of February, but other sources indicated that if Gov. Patrick doesn’t get his appointment made soon, there is very little hope of that happening.

In the end, the SJC has the final call on when to end receivership and when to begin normal operations under the new Board and the new Executive Director Al Ewing – who officially took the reins on Jan. 1st.

All members of the new Board will have to go through a training program with Weber before receivership can be terminated, Ash said.

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