Sen Jon Courtney: Maine Housing Authority Worth Investigating

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Naran
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Video and stories available

Video and stories available at The Maine Wire.

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[quote]
-- Editorial: Bad Government
-- Video: Maine Housing Director donated to left-wing political group
-- Video: Maine Housing gave $15,000 to a prison theater group [/quote]

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Posted: 23 Jan 2012 01:00 AM PST

Maine Housing Director Dale McCormick spent $15,000 in public funds on a theater group for prison inmates.

[url=http://www.themainewire.com/2012/01/video-maine-housing-gave-15000-priso... Group Donation[/url]

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Editorial: Bad Government

Posted: 22 Jan 2012 09:01 PM PST

This week, Maine State Housing Authority Director Dale McCormick confirmed what many had suspected – that she was using her position as a government official to funnel money to preferred political organizations, that she spent public funds in an irresponsible way, and that she was willing to bend the truth to cover her actions. All of [...]

[url=http://www.themainewire.com/2012/01/editorial-bad-government/]Editorial[...

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Video: Maine Housing Director donated to left-wing political group

Posted: 22 Jan 2012 03:15 PM PST

Maine Housing Director Dale McCormick gave donations to a progressive political group called Maine Initiatives, run by a cadre of Democrat operatives including Chellie and Hannah Pingree, along with Democrat State Senator Justin Alfond.

[url=http://www.themainewire.com/2012/01/video-maine-housing-director-donated... Wing Group Donation[/url]

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------ Maybe I'm confused, but don't prison inmates already "have" housing?

Overall, the picture emerging is one of a director using public money to run her own personal "social justice" agenda.

She is welcome to have such an agenda, but she needs to use her own money, not "our" money.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Here's the mission statement

Here's the mission statement for Maine Initiatives, to which McCormick made donations with MSHA money:

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Maine Initiatives was founded in 1993 by donors and community leaders who saw a need for a fund with the sole mission of supporting social change in Maine. Since then, thousands have joined us in pooling charitable gifts to have an impact — to make change.
...snip

"It’s working. From rural people saying no to aerial pesticide spraying to city tenants winning lead abatement, from small towns turning back big box developers to urban residents gaining control over downtown redevelopment, from immigrants securing basic protections under the law to gay and lesbian leaders securing equal rights under the law, our grantees are transforming Maine."

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Does anybody see AFFORDABLE HOUSING on that list?

[url=http://www.maineinitiatives.org/?page_id=2]Maine Initiatives[/url]

What does making "social change" have to do with affordable housing?

If McCormick wants to make "charitable gifts," she can take it out of her own salary.

Mike Travers
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Joined: 08/04/2002 - 12:01am
If I'm following her logic,

If I'm following her logic, MSHA could use their funds to support aerial pesticide spraying because aerial pesticide sprayers live in houses.

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
Sounds like P.J. O'Rourke has

Sounds like P.J. O'Rourke has been spending time in Maine doing research for his articles. Have any of you seen him?

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On January 1, 2012, Maine became the first state to ban smoking in all low-income public housing. Twelve thousand poor people faced their New Year’s Day hangover without the solace of a Marlboro to accompany their aspirin and coffee.

Get up and read your Chomsky, you wastrel.

This, of course, was good. Just ask the high-minded, right-thinking progressive elites who, it’s safe to say, run Maine’s public housing authority. Progressive elites like to run things.

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They Hate Poor People

Watcher
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Joined: 03/23/2008 - 12:32pm
I think he forgot to note

I think he forgot to note that smoking indoors ruins walls, ceilings, floors, fabric and just about everything else. I should know...I smoked 5 packs per day (gasp, gasp) and my office was the only one with a burnished orange-yellow ceiling while everyone else had white ceilings. You knew, without looking, when I walked into a room. Funny, I didn't notice the stench on me, my clothes and surroundings until I quit smoking about 30 years ago.

Gotta stop now. I am running out of breath.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
MaineHousing Puts Up Barriers

MaineHousing Puts Up Barriers to Public Entry

by Terrilyn Simpson
The Maine Wire

Jan. 27, 2012

Maine Senator Debra Plowman walked into ...lobby of (MSHA).... to view ...barrier ... installed across the entry area in response to members of the public and uninvited members of the press showing up at MSHA board meetings. But .... the barricade had disappeared — leaving the area once again unobstructed.

[url=http://www.themainewire.com/2012/01/mainehousing-puts-barriers-public-en...

Naran
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Legislature's watchdog agency

Legislature's watchdog agency to review MaineHousing expenditures
By Steve Mistler, Staff Writer
Published on Friday, Jan 27, 2012

AUGUSTA — The Government Oversight Committee on Friday directed the Legislature's watchdog agency to scrutinize some expenditures at the Maine State Housing Authority...

The panel voted unanimously to have the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability (OPEGA) quickly review a list of vendors that MaineHousing has paid over the last five years.

[url=http://www.sunjournal.com/news/state/2012/01/27/legislatures-watchdog-ag...

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Let's see McCormick try to stonewall OPEGA the same way she did with the MHPC.

alter ego
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LD 1778, “An Act Relating to

LD 1778, “An Act Relating to the Governance of the Maine State Housing Authority," public hearing Tuesday 1/31/12 at 1:00pm in the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee. Should be fun.

Naran
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Posted: January 28 Panel:

Posted: January 28

Panel: Expedite review of Maine Housing spending
A panel calls for a 'rapid response' review of five years of expenses.

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA - Questions raised in recent weeks about money spent on massage services, at hotels and for donations to special interest groups prompted lawmakers... to request an immediate review of spending by the Maine State Housing Authority.

...snip
In response, the authority has said that all of the expenses were related to its mission of providing affordable housing or were for staff wellness and training days.

[url=http://www.pressherald.com/news/panel-expedite-review-of-spending_2012-0...

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I'm sorry, but I fail to see how donations to a prison inmate theater group meet the criteria of either "affordable housing" or "staff wellness and training."

Similarly, donations to the Sierra Club and progressive "social justice" groups are suspect.

Presumably, those donations couldn't reasonably be categorized as "beneficial" to staff well-being. Unless, of course, McCormick means it made her "feel good" to give tax dollars to her pet organizations.

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
There seems to be an awful

There seems to be an awful lot of training going on these days, often in places near and far.

Melvin Udall
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Go here to look at the list

Go here to look at the list MSHA provided to other media sources and blogs the day after the MaineWire article of the 17th appeared.

One of the recipients of the list was a progressive blogger known well to long standing AMG'ers. Yet the data was not provided to MHPC, which filed the original FOA request asking for it. MSHA turned it around in a day, after taking more than 6 months to provide the raw list of vendors, with no transaction dates or details.

The line breaking up the list on each page is intended, I believe, to separate the items under McCormick's watch from those before her time.

Note that Libby Mitchell was director of MSHA from 1986 to 1990. If anyone knows who held the job from 1990 to 2005, I'd like to hear.

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
Was just doing a little

Was just doing a little googling trying to find the list of past MSHA Directors, and came across this beauty:

After Chelsea housing scandal, Mass. caps pay for directors

It ends thusly:
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McLaughlin announced his resignation within hours of Patrick’s call to do so, ........ McLaughlin’s close family friend and office accountant, James McNichols, helped ....with the boxes, and later admitted to shredding documents.

The next day, McLaughlin, after hurriedly submitting his resignation to the board, left midafternoon with McNichols and three checks for more than $200,000, which he said was his compensation for unused vacation, sick, and personal time. The checks were cut by McNichols.

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It's a good thing nothing like this could ever happen here in Maine, where there is no fraud in elections, nor any other civic activities.

PS: I was looking to see if Ron Riml was posting on the article, but couldn't find a comment section.

Naran
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List of MSHA Vendors from

List of MSHA Vendors from Mel's post, above.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B-OCIRevB5CWYjMyMTMyMzYtNjM3YS00NmQ0LTg...

#1 --- where's the dollar figures for each line item? Some have them, some don't. If MSHA can provide the other details, why not how many publicly-funded tax dollars they handed out for each and every line item? Could it be that the numbers make them look bad?

#2 --- Why should a publicly funded organization be paying for employee dues to Weight Watchers, and other such companies?

#3 --- Why should MSHA shell out for B&B's and fancy resorts, when they can meet for free at a hotel where *ONE* of them is staying? Almost every hotel has a meeting room -- or a lobby space -- that can be used by a paying guest for business activities - at either minimal, or no cost.

If the MTU can meet at a local McDonald's, it seems to me the MSHA should be able to figure out a way to hold meetings around the state without charging rooms and fancy breakfasts to the "company charge cards."

It all depends upon whether those in charge "want" to save the public money for other uses, or not.

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
The rest of the numbers are

The rest of the numbers are 'in the mail.'

Naran
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Very "selective" mail, so it

Very "selective" mail, so it would appear.

J. McKane
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Joined: 05/22/2005 - 12:01am
There seems to be an awful

There seems to be an awful lot of training going on these days,

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
Well, it's hard to

Well, it's hard to consistently and effectively give other peoples' money away week after week, month after month, and year after year.

Unless you are trained frequently in the specifics, you can lose the knack. Just like I have to retrain my dogs to sit for a treat every few months.

If I don't, they only do it when I ask.

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
Here's how to really get them

Here's how to really get them messed up.
Ask for each person who attended and then ask what knowledge or skills they gained.

J. McKane
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Joined: 05/22/2005 - 12:01am
A friend of mine compared

A friend of mine compared these training sessions, conferences, etc. to the age-old need for humans to jump up and down together and dance around an open fire.

Bruce Libby
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Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
Mr. McKane you are correct

Mr. McKane you are correct !

That particularly applies to groups w/ missions like MSHA ,and seeks to turn all into "true believers" ! The world of training consultants is a weird one to say the least.
They will sell you anything and guarantee nothing for your bucks.
Occasionally when I was a training manager central office would harangue me to talk with a training vendor and use their programs. I had a sure fire way of assessing their claims and the cost benefit of using very limited funds on them.My office was in a separate building from the facility,I had a nice view out of my window of the Presumpscot river, after hearing the presentation I would invite the person to go to other side of river and walk back across water and if dry I would hire them! Needless to says the budget remained intact.
Of course there is no end to the standards in the training world.
Team Building(a classic ) usually fails due to the failure to issue the T shirts to the participants.
Networking: fails to give the best tip: Talk to people in elevators.
Interpersonal communications: How to feel good about the boss telling you you are no good and it is your fault!
Stress management: Teaches staff to handle stress that they didn't create not the cause(usually management)!

Melvin Udall
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Ah yes...the training

Ah yes...the training industrial complex, brothers and sisters to the consultant industrial complex.

I'd forgotten about these beneficiaries and enablers of every-growing and obsessive government spending.

Facilitators, anyone?

pmrmsm
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LD 1778 Summary and Public

LD 1778 Summary and Public Hearing
The director of the Maine State Housing Authority has no accountability to the governor, the legislature or the Maine Housing board of commissioners.
Maine State Housing is the only quasi-governmental agency in the state in which the director has no accountability to its board.
Maine citizens will have an opportunity to voice opinions and offer arguments regarding MSHA director accountability on Tuesday afternoon at a legislative hearing at the state capitol.

Maine Wire

Naran
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Thank you, PM. The Maine Wire

Thank you, PM. The Maine Wire article contains a complete "how to" for residents attending a legislative hearing at the State House for the first time.

From where to park, to the exact manner in which to verbally address the committee and submit written testimony, Ms. Simpson of the Maine Wire does a terrific job of conveying the information.

For the average citizen who may not have attended a legislative hearing, this kind of detail is invaluable.

Naran
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Courtesy of the Maine

Courtesy of the Maine Wire:

Emailed testimony for LD 1778 should be emailed to Committee Clerk Rhonda Miller at rhonda.miller@legislature.maine.gov. According to Miller, she is not allowed to print out copies of emails for committee members but can forward emailed testimony electronically to individual committee members.

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Here's my email to the Committee:

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Dear Ms. Miller - would you kindly forward this email to the members of the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development?
Thank you.

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Senator Smith, Representative Jones (chairpersons) and members of the committee:

Regarding LD (Legislative Document) 1778 — An Act Relating to the Governance of the Maine State Housing Authority:

I support this legislation, and respectfully encourage the Committee to vote in favor of the bill.

Thank you kindly, for your time and service to Maine.

Ms. Naran Row-Spaulding

Kennebunk, Maine

Maine Senate Re...
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For Immediate Release January

For Immediate Release
January 30, 2012

****MEDIA ADVISORY****

Senator Jon Courtney to introduce LD 1778, “An Act Relating to the Governance of the Maine State Housing Authority”

AUGUSTA, Maine – Senator Jon Courtney will introduce LD 1778, “An Act Relating to the Governance of the Maine State Housing Authority” (MSHA) before the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development (LCRED).

Who: Senator Jon Courtney
What: LD 1778, “An Act Relating to the Governance of the Maine State Housing Authority”
When: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Where: Room 208, Cross Office Building, Augusta, ME
Why: Public Hearing on LD 1778

Streaming audio of the hearing can be heard here ( http://www.maine.gov/legis/audio/lab_cmte.html ).

###

Sen. Jon Courtney is the Senate Majority Leader. Courtney represents Maine State Senate District 3 which includes the York County communities of Alfred, Limington, Lyman, Sanford, Springvale, and Waterboro.

Naran
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Posted: February

Posted: February 1

Allegations revived at hearing on bill to retool Maine housing agency
The legislation would change the director's term and oversight to add accountability.

By John Richardson jrichardson@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA — Allegations that ...(MSHA)... has misspent money and invested in high-priced projects fueled arguments....

....snip
Speakers at a public hearing on the bill clashed over whether the change would fix problems with the housing authority, or just make matters worse.

"With each passing day, it appears the scandal plaguing the Maine State Housing Authority grows in scope and severity," said Les Gibson of Sabattus, a supporter of the bill. "The current director is accountable to no one."

[url=http://www.pressherald.com/news/allegations-revived-at-hearing-on-bill-t...

Naran
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BREAKING: Violent Offender

BREAKING: Violent Offender Threatens Governor, MaineHousing Fails to Report

by Terrilyn Simpson
The Maine Wire

It was a gun threat against Maine Governor Paul LePage by an alleged violent offender.

... according to(MSHA)... manager Deborah Turcotte... (MSHA)... never reported the threat to the police. Neither did MSHA contact the governor’s security detail.

The threat was from a client with a brain injury who “has been arrested for assault in the past,” and “apparently has a tendency to react violently to people when he’s upset with them...” ....

[url=http://www.themainewire.com/2012/02/breaking-violent-offender-threatens-...

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Evidently, this was the violent threat used by MSHA to justify the new entry security measures at the MSHA building. Why no notification to the Governor's staff and security detail?

Naran
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Here's an article from last

Here's an article from last fall, which contains good information on the Elm Terrace price issues, and the timeline on what happened when.

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Affordable housing project overrun raises stakes for Maine Housing, McCormick

By Steve Mistler, Staff Writer
Published on Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

AUGUSTA — Dale McCormick, director of the Maine State Housing Authority, called an emergency meeting late last week with stakeholders of Elm Terrace, a 35-unit affordable housing project in Portland.

McCormick had bad news for those assembled at the University of Southern Maine's Glickman Library. Elm Terrace, she said, was too expensive.

[url=http://www.sunjournal.com/news/state/2011/10/27/affordable-housing-proje...

Naran
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Opinion. Updated: 1:45

Opinion.

Updated: 1:45 AM
Maine Voices: State housing authority's director must be accountable to board
The author has proposed a bill that would give the MSHA board oversight of the executive director.

From State Sen. Jon Courtney

This paper's editorial titled "Don't politicize state housing agency" (Feb. 5) misses the point entirely.

My bill, LD 1778, addresses the need for the (MSHA)... director to be accountable. Granting direct oversight of the executive director to the MSHA board will make the agency less political and help prevent the current situation from happening again.

Because, by statute, the executive director is not accountable to anyone, questions have been raised that could and should be resolved by a board with direct oversight....

[url=http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/state-housing-authoritys-director-mus...

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Points that support Courtney's bill to make the MSHA director accountable to the MSHA Board:

• "Affordable housing" that is one and two bedroom units costing more than $250,000 each.

• An approval process that does not consider the cost of projects as part of its funding criteria.

• Payroll spending that has risen more than 30 percent since 2005.

• "Administration" payroll costs that have increased by 61 percent since 2005.

• "Asset management" payroll costs that have gone up 60 percent in five years.

• Section 8 housing unit inspection problems prompting U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to request a federal investigation.

• Non-meritorious $1,000 bonuses given to employees in 2010.

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
Oh, yeah. Downtown

Oh, yeah. Downtown locations:

Chebeague Island

Helping the downtrodden:

"One of the problems we have is that there's not much rental housing, particularly for young people who want to come out here and see what it's like to live on Chebeague," Howe said last week. "

The comments on the article web site are so uninformed and reflexive as to be idiotic.

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