DuPonte resigns as director, cites unrest with JHA commissioner
In a letter dated Aug. 17 and addressed to the Jamestown Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, Executive Director Ron DuPonte submitted his notice of resignation, stating that one commissioner has made him “ineffective in my role as executive director.”
DuPonte’s contract, which he signed on Dec. 30, 2008, required a 30-day notice of termination, allowing him to officially step down from his post on Sept. 16. DuPonte has been an employee with the Jamestown Housing Authority for more than six years, including the last two and a half as executive director.
Whether it was related to the resignation or not, the Housing Authority uncharacteristically held its monthly meeting on Sept. 12, a Monday – the authority typically holds its meeting on the second Wednesday of each month. Town Clerk Cheryl Fernstrom said she wasn’t aware of why the meeting was conducted two days earlier than the scheduled date.
Although no names were used in DuPonte’s letter of resignation, the dispute is between DuPonte and Housing Authority Chairman Ernest Anthony.
“That’s his opinion, not mine,” said Anthony. “We want him to stay on as executive director. I think Ron did a good job and we asked numerous times that he reconsider, and he chose not to.”
DuPonte said that the decision to terminate his employment was a “difficult one and not made without due consideration and concern” for the authority and the people that it serves.
“However,” wrote DuPonte, “over the past eight months it has been increasingly difficult to carry out my responsibilities as the executive director due to the undue influence of a member of this board who has essentially made me ineffective in my role as executive director and unable to fairly and effectively supervise a staff member who is a family member or to effectively carry out my day-to-day duties of managing this Housing Authority.”
The family member that DuPonte is referring to is Brian Anthony, Ernest Anthony’s son, who is an employee of the Housing Authority. According to a letter addressed to the Jamestown Daily Record and sent to the Press by Jamestown Daily Record Publisher Sav Rebecchi, “Brian on many occasions let us know his dislike for the executive director.”
Since the letter was not signed by any specific persons, it can not be known whether this is the opinion of many – or just a few – Pemberton residents.
The letter was signed, “Concerned tenants who want Mr. Du- Ponte to stay our executive director through necessary changes in the JHA Board of Commissioners who are afraid of retaliation if we divulge our names.”
The letter also said that the authors are a group of tenants of Pemberton Apartments and Pemberton Place.
“We think you should be made aware of an injustice occurring at the Jamestown Housing Authority,” it read.
It continued, “We have personal knowledge that Mr. DuPonte has been the best executive director we have ever had here. He has done so many great things here for the residents, especially making us feel secure where we live and always allows us time to talk with him and helps us with so many things.”
DuPonte’s resignation letter also said that over the last eight months he has been prevented from keeping the board informed about important issues such as personnel, budget and day-to-day operations of the authority.
“I have always believed that my role as the executive director is to keep the board of commissioners, as a whole entity, informed of all important matters concerning this agency,” he said. “Additionally, I believe the role of the board of commissioners is to be open to any and all discussion of information presented by executive director or any member of this board. Furthermore, and member of this board, or the executive director, should be provided the opportunity to present, ask questions, and discuss any items or issues without fear of embarrassment, retaliation, or feeling of intimidation or control from any other member. I have not found this to be what has transpired for the past eight months.”
So where does the Housing Authority go from here? “We are in the process of conducting a job search,” said Ernest Anthony. Anthony added that they are using Dauwer Associates out of Needham, Mass. He added that Dauwer is a well-known consulting firm in the field. Until a new executive director is chosen, an interim director will fill the position.
DuPonte said that looking back at his time with the authority, he is proud of the accomplishments the agency has achieved. He also mentioned that tough times may lay ahead, which can even be tougher without a solid form of leadership at the top.
“However, as you should be aware, there are extremely diffi cult times ahead with respect to the anticipated budget cuts being proposed in Washington for 2012, with an emphasis on small housing authorities,” he wrote. “I sincerely hope that this board takes this opportunity to take the steps necessary as a board to ensure that the JHA will be able to meet the budget demands that will be evident in the upcoming fiscal year. This includes allowing an executive director to perform their duties and responsibilities of the day-to-day functioning of the agency without interference or intimidation from a chairperson or other board member and to report and keep the board informed as duly required.”
Along with Chairman Ernest Anthony, Vice Chairwoman Valerie Topp, Resident Carole Phillips, Kathleen Rushton and Deborah- Ann Owens make up the Housing Authority.