2012-08-23 / Letters to the Editor

JHA board should act more professional

On July 1, during the Housing Authority board meeting – which was filmed and posted on the Jamestown Daily Record – a discussion took place concerning a new position being called an operations center manager. It would pay $45,000 to $52,000 per year.

Executive Director Richard Leco was asked by Commissioner Kathy Rushton what the previous administrative assistant’s job title was, at which point Commissioner Carol Phillips quickly responded, “Ron’s girlfriend.” Following the comment, the entire board burst in to laughter. The board consists of Chairman Ernest Anthony Jr., Vice Chair Valerie Topp, Commissioners Deb Owens and Rushton, and Phillips, who is the resident commissioner.

As the previous executive director and employee of the Housing Authority for more than seven years, I find these comments and behavior extremely offensive, disrespectful, harassing and inappropriate. When did it become acceptable for town-appointed board members, who have taken an oath of office and are fully aware of the responsibilities of that role, to openly and blatantly act in this manner in an open and taped public forum?

One might expect this type of unacceptable behavior to go on behind closed doors and out of the public, but certainly not in full view during a public meeting that is videotaped, attended by the public, as well as posted on the Internet.

What I find most disturbing is that not one commissioner, nor Director Leco or Chairman Anthony, who at this point is sitting in the audience away from the table (he had previously been advised by legal counsel to recuse himself from any discussion that deals with his son who is a employee of the authority), had the forethought, conviction or decency to admonish the comment or behavior of the board.

Certainly the board has more appropriate and pressing topics of conversation to discuss in light of an ever-shrinking federal budget. Have they forgotten its mission and responsibility to be role models and carry out their duties and responsibilities in an ethical and transparent manner?

I continue to believe in the need and the purpose of the housing board as it was created, and hope that this type of behavior is not allowed to continue, and those responsible take full responsibility for their actions.

Ronald DuPonte
Gondola Street
Jamestown

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