The Board of the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) and Executive Director Al Ewing have come to terms on a contract dispute that – though in the background as compared to the overall repairing of the agency – has been outstanding since 2011.
The contract was recently approved by the Board and state officials and is now in effect, retroactive from Nov. 1, 2014. The three-year contract will pay Ewing $122,000 per year – which was a point of contention when the dispute first went to court.
“It’s a nice thing to have happen,” said Board Chair Tom Standish. “It could have been an adversarial thing all this time and it hasn’t been. We’ve worked well together and will continue to do so.”
Ewing said this week that he is glad to get the contract situation worked out and to move on to rebuilding and reinvigorating the CHA.
“I’m pleased I will continue being executive director at least through October 2017,” he said. “That gives us the opportunity to build on the many victories we’ve had. We’ve done a number of things over the past three years and we want to continue providing these services to our residents.”
One of the most unique things about the contract dispute was that it really just faded away in late 2011 as the CHA and the Board began working on the larger issues of cleaning up after Michael McLaughlin and untangling the web of complexities that was left behind in what has now been exposed as a criminal enterprise.
Originally, the contract was disputed rather vocally, but once it was entered as a court case, nothing more came of it.
That’s when Ewing and the Board seemed to roll up their sleeves and work without any animosity whatsoever despite the ongoing matter.
Standish said it was particularly noteworthy that the relationship withstood
Ewing said he viewed it as separate from his job.
“I think my job here as executive director, no matter what my pay, is to serve the residents,” he said. “I continually try to focus on that. They are two separate things. There were issues and sometimes people can have differences of opinion and that’s why we have a legal system to turn to. One has nothing to do with the other, the way I see it.”
Ewing said he had been chosen as the new executive director before McLaughlin suddenly resigned in 2011 after a Globe story spotlighted the beginnings of his misdeeds at the CHA.
After several public hearings and an executive director search in anticipation of McLaughlin’s regular retirement, Ewing got the vote of the board. His contract was to be ratified at a regular meeting the day after McLaughlin resigned.
However, with the sudden resignation of McLaughlin, the Board agreed to quickly make Ewing the interim director that very night.
The contract that came with that appointment is what struck up some controversy when the new Board took over in 2012 and rebuilding efforts began.