Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Affordable Housing, A Sense of Scale, MSHA, and gun threats….

You might think this is an odd combination of subjects to combine under a single post title.  Let’s see if we can’t resolve that conundrum for you.

We’ve been posting about Maine State Housing Authority for some months now. They are this state’s ‘quasi-governmental authority’ for implementing affordable housing programs, or as we prefer to call it, government subsidized housing. 

They’ve been in the news a good deal in recent months, culminating in yesterday’s news that the Executive Director, Dale McCormick, has resigned.  We posted briefly on that yesterday, and posted separately with some quantitative data that we hoped would give you a sense of the scale of publicly subsidized housing in our area.

Some weeks back, we also posted on tangled webs, and reports of gun threats publicized by MSHA.

We think they all come together in what we are about to disclose to you here.

To begin with, read this email message.  This is the document that first revealed the threat to Governor LePage.  alphaOne, the reporting agency, is a sub to MSHA for specific subsidized housing programs.

The message reveals that the client involved, who made the threat, has a brain injury, but lives in his own home.  The main topic of the discussion is working out the details for a government funded $15,000 remodel to the client’s bathroom and laundry room, in which he has considerable freedom over design details.  Note the inclusion of a 4’ by 8’ compost (sic) deck as part of the job, with vinyl railings.

The counselor seems to be offering advice on how to have the job come in at the higher bid figure, and how to ensure that the grant funded renovation can move forward.  She mentions his reference to restraining orders, apparently intended to intimidate the counselor.

This subsequent item reveals just how threatening dealing with this individual can be, and the precautions the agency takes in dealing with him.  He has an arrest record, and is known to behave violently.  alphaOne clearly believes significant risk is involved, but doesn’t want to “lose the money,” if at all possible.  We presume alphaOne earns their revenue as a middleman in such grant programs.

We don’t know about you, but we are, to put it mildly, stunned by the nature of the circumstances documented here.

First. we’re a bit startled to discover that we have public assistance programs designed to help brain injured clients with arrest records and known violent tendencies live in their own homes.  We can only wonder how they manage to pay the bills associated with doing so, and what the work load is for the social service agencies involved, like alphaOne.

Second, we’re astonished to learn that there are grant funds available allowing such clients to obtain home improvements paid for with public funds, including bathroom remodels and ‘compost decks’ with vinyl railings.  Certainly, substantial social service agency overhead must be involved, not to mention personnel risk in dealing with those who have violent records.

Some will read this and consider us insensitive, we suppose, but we’re just the messenger here.

A more relevant reaction would be why MSHA officials did not notify the Governor’s security detail of the threat as soon as they learned of it.  As it turns out, the security detail learned of the threat from your correspondent, who obtained these emails through a Freedom of Access request.

You can decide whether MSHA laxity in this matter contributed to their public scrutiny in recent months, and proposed legislation to increase accountability of their Director.

Us?  Hell; we’ve got too many other things to think about, like how to corner the damn wasp that snuck in through an open window today.  And how to get buns delivered from our new most favorite bakery in Northern New Jersey.

One of these days, we’ll share some with you.  Perhaps a melt away, or a crumb bun, or one of a vast variety of crumb Danishes.

You probably don’t deserve it, but we’re bigger than you when it comes to things like this.

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