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McGlynn Calls for Housing Director's Resignation

Mayor asked authority director to resign in a letter Wednesday.

Mayor Michael McGlynn has asked the Executive Director of the Medford Housing Authority to resign.

McGlynn's request follows the footsteps of Gov. Deval Patrick, who asked for Robert Covelle's resignation last week. Covelle has been under scrutiny since a federal audit report released in April raised issues with the authority's financial practices. Shortly after the audit, reports surfaced that Covelle allegedly hired close friends and family for jobs and contracts.

Covelle agreed to a request from the housing authority's board of commissioners to take a two week, unpaid leave of absence starting Monday. McGlynn sent a letter to Covelle Wednesday asking he resign.

"I strongly believe that it is in the best interest of the Medford Housing Authority and the citizens of Medford that you resign," McGlynn wrote. "To do anything less could be detrimental in the relationship between MHA and the state and federal government."

The city government is autonomous from the housing authority, but four of the appointments on its board of commissioners are recommended by McGlynn and approved by the Medford City Council. The fifth member is appointed by the governor.

The audit report, conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and submitted to the authority in late March, found the authority frequently agreed to contracts without putting projects out to bid, and it did not follow federal guidelines in doling out about $8 million in federal funds in 2010 and 2011.

After learning of the audit in early April, McGlynn wrote a letter to Covelle asking for changes in procedure at the authority and the hiring of a procurement officer. He called the audit "significant and severe," but fell short of asking for Covelle's resignation.

Since then, a Boston Globe report alleged that Covelle made room for a job for close friend Sam Pirri by demoting another authority employee, and suspended an employee who questioned the use of politically-connected contractors. The scrutiny of Covelle also spread to McGlynn, who Covelle allegedly once called his consultant, the Globe report said.

In a recent meeting, authority commission members said they had been questioned by State Police and subpoenaed by a grand jury, though the details of the investigation are undisclosed. John Lonergan, the authority's director of operations, is on paid leave after admitting he sold copper pipes belonging to the authority to a scrap yard, and held the money for about a year.

Covelle, the brother-in-law of , was hired as the authority's director in 2009. He has not admitted to any wrong-doing, insisting that many of the practices at the authority have carried over from the previous administration. He had created an action plan that included hiring a procurement officer and several consultants to address the issues in the audit. It is unclear whether the authority will continue with those plans.

Two weeks ago, the Medford City Council passed a no confidence vote against Covelle by a 4-3 margin, with Robert Penta bringing the resolution forward. Tuesday night, the Penta called for the council to ask for Covelle's firing, but the vote failed, 3-4.

That vote factored into McGlynn's decision to ask for his resignation, he wrote.

"Our city council has approved a vote of no confidence in your administration; the same council that has to approve our federal appropriations," he wrote.

Covelle could not be immediately reached Wednesday night.

Patrick asked Covelle to resign through a letter from Aaron Gornstein, his housing undersecretary, on Thursday, citing the findings of the federal audit. Patrick also replaced his appointment to the authority's commission Eugene McGillicuddy with Sean Caron. McGillicuddy is related to McGlynn through marriage, he said during a housing meeting in April after being asked about his relationship to McGlynn by Medford resident and videographer Joseph Viglione.

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Public Access Producer May 16, 2012 at 02:37 PM
You are protesting a bit too much, Rick, and have gone way off topic. I stand by my belief that this Mayor came very close to losing the election. You made two posts and you asked me not to respond. Sounds like you need to read Hamlet...something about protesting too much. If you don't want a response, don't respond. It is as simple as that, Rick.
Jarret Bencks May 22, 2012 at 01:09 PM
A comment on this thread was deleted for violating Patch's terms of use.
stevieB May 25, 2012 at 12:50 PM
wow Joe V says Bush was leadin gfrom behind...a surplus?? its called the invention of the internet...oh yeah Gore "invented" it...Joe what government ad are you in..after all you are a democrat and you like the messiah...how much of my taxes get you through the day?
Rick Catino May 25, 2012 at 01:08 PM
According to GAO, the only four years we have shown a surplus since 1969 happen to coincide with the last four years of Clinton's presidency. I wouldn't know about Al Gore and the Internet, or the messiah, or other extraneous, off-topic information, but the deficit/surplus information is a publicly available and published fact.
Public Access Producer May 25, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I'm happy to be a Progressive and vote mostly Democrat (though I did vote for Bill Campbell - Republican - for Secretary of the State). Unlike many "independents" (Republicans who are ashamed of how they vote) you can be nice to me for being honest about how I vote. For the person and what they represent, not the party. Democrat is how I lean, though there are many Democratic politicians that have disappointed me. When the poster attacks Al Gore (who was reportedly instrumental in helping the internet blossom and flourish) - when a poster names someone and then belittles them, well, that's why we flag them as inappropriate. And the rants take this off topic. The discussion is the resignation of Bob Covelle and how tight he was with McGlynn and Sheriff DiPaola. He got the job through connections, not skill.

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