McLaughlin Was Everywhere, but in Chelsea

Disgraced Chelsea Housing Authority executive director Mike McLaughlin, it turns out, was rarely at his job, conducted business by phone from Florida or his home in Dracut and spent so little time in Chelsea that his claims for salary, vacation and sick time have been made to look ludicrous.

Sean Murphy, the Boston Globe reporter who broke the McLaughlin story about two months ago, followed and itemized McLaughlin’s cell-phone records. He was able to detail exactly where and at what time McLaughlin was whenever he used his cell-phone.

Turns out, he was everywhere but in Chelsea for the larger part of the day, everyday he was employed by the authority.

At least that’s the way it was during 2011.

This exhaustive, and we assume thorough investigation into his whereabouts constitutes a prima facie case of dereliction of duty.

This isn’t by itself a crime.

The crime, it appears, is in McLaughlin putting in for work weeks to be paid when he wasn’t there, for vacation time that wasn’t deserved because he hadn’t been actually working, and for sick time, which is ludicrous to file for if he hadn’t been working in the first place.

My mentor, the late Andrew P. Quigley, who owned the Record, had a wonderful sense of humor about people like McLaughlin. He understood people and their foibles. He was a master at sizing someone up.

He would have sized up Mike McLaughlin in an Irish millisecond. He would have liked him, too, as many of us did. But Mr. Quigley would have added: “There’s nothing worse than a criminal who’s going to get caught.”

If I had come to Mr. Quigley and told him: “Mike McLaughlin has put in for vacation. Mr. Quigley would have looked at me oddly, frowning just a bit and he would have placed his hand to his head, shut his eyes and then he would have said:’”How can Mike go on vacation when he’s on vacation?’”

That kind of sums it up doesn’t it about Mike McLaughlin?

Just when we thought we were getting rid of the stain he has left on all of our reputations, he has come back again on the front page of last Sunday’s Globe.

His second in command at the CHA, also his apparent companion in Florida and elsewhere adds just a touch of the sordid to this continuing story that has caused this city’s star to tumble.

All of us continue to wonder … how did all of this go on with none of us knowing?

This we know, there will never be another Mike McLaughlin stripping the agency he worked for in this city of $360,000 a year in salary.

The days of outrage have passed.

Let’s hope the Feds and the state law authorities nail him for what he stole and for what he lied about relating to his salary, his sick days and his vacations.

Mike will get a taste of justice out of this.

It will be a bitter taste for him, we can be sure.

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