City Councilors Rip Medford Housing Authority
Housing Authority's board of commissioners will meet Wednesday.
Embarrassing. Horrid. Disgusting. Boondoggle.
Those are a few of the words used by city officials during Tuesday night's city council meeting to describe some of the findings of a recently-released federal audit report on the Medford Housing Authority.
Even though the city has no control over the housing authority -- it operates autonomously from the municipal government -- the council discussed the audit during its meeting Tuesday night and unanimously approved a resolution asking for the housing authority to distribute letters to all its residents notifying them of the report.
The discussion was prompted by Councilor Robert Penta, who also wanted to ask the federal government to put the housing authority under receivership, and to call for the housing authority's board of commissioners -- who are appointed by the mayor and approved by the council -- to fire the authority's executive director Robert Covelle.
The audit report, which was made public last week, said the authority distributed nearly $8 million in aid in 2010 and 2011 without properly following federal guidelines, and shelled out $1.3 million in procurements under questionable practices.
Penta said the results of the audit report were a "boondoggle."
"They are an embarrassment to our city, and to me a borderline scandal of which the like our city has never seen before," Penta said.
The resolutions calling for receivership and personnel changes failed by 5-2 votes, with Breanna Lungo-Koehn being the only other councilor to support the measures.
Still, other the other councilors expressed concern over the audit report.
Council President Robert Maiocco has seen many audits in his years as a financial advisor, he said.
"This audit is one of the worst audits I have read in my 40 years in finance," Maiocco said.
Councilor Paul Camuso said the findings in the audit report were disgusting.
“This is important stuff," Camuso said. "People are concerned because they believe their quality of life is at stake.”
City Solicitor Mark Rumley, who provided copies of the report and related correspondence to the council, attended Tuesday's meeting to make clear that the housing authority was autonomous from the Medford municipal government.
“This audit is horrid, that’s the truth,” Rumley said.
The housing authority is expected to respond to the audit report by April 30. Its board of commissioners is expected to hold a meeting Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m.