BOSTON (CBS) – A string of scandals involving local housing authorities has prompted Governor Deval Patrick to unveil a sweeping reform plan imposing tighter state control over public housing.
Local officials with clean records are promising major political pushback.
“A number of recent incidents have exposed the need for more transparency and accountability, better performance and greater efficiency,” said Governor Patrick Thursday at the State House.
Spurred on by the Chelsea Public Housing scandal and the corruption probe of former director Michael McLaughlin, the governor and members of a reform commission he appointed want to put the state in the public-housing driver’s seat, a fix that would cost hundreds of local officials their jobs.
“The system that we have right now was a great system in the 1940s, and the Commonwealth deserves better,” says Jeffrey Sacks of the Newton Housing Authority.
Getting a better bang for the state’s buck while saving millions of dollars, sounds great, but in order to get that done, the governor has to get it passed on Beacon Hill.
The infamously close ties between McLaughlin and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray illustrated how politically-wired many of these local authorities are.
“I think that nobody is under any illusions that this isn’t going to be a heavy political lift,” said Governor Patrick.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Lana Jones reports
Local housing officials, some of whom sat on that gubernatorial commission, are vowing to fight the Patrick plan.
“Sure, we feel slightly blindsided by that,” says Colleen Doherty of the Taunton Housing Authority. “It wasn’t something that came out of the commission reports, we did go into the commission in good faith, and this is a proposal that we did not want to see happen.”
The governor acknowledges he has no assurances of support for his reform from legislative leaders, who will be urged by those dissident housing officials to support an alternative plan with less state control. Bottom line: Don’t look for this new initiative from the governor to go anywhere fast.