Aug. 1, 2003 – Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has named seven individuals to constitute the V.I. Housing Authority's interim board of commissioners that the Senate authorized him to create on Monday.
A Government House release announcing the appointments Friday afternoon also said that Turnbull had signed the legislation into law.
The interim board is to replace the nine-member former board which the governor dissolved Friday under the terms of the legislation. The interim appointees are to serve for no more than 180 days.
Turnbull sought the authorization in order to take action aimed at staving off a move by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to place VIHA, which it funds, in receivership. HUD has accused the authority of financial mismanagement, and Michael Liu, HUD assistant secretary for public and Indian housing, told the administration that the structure of the former board did "not lend itself to effective management."
The governor's choice of interim board members and their qualifications, according to the release:
– Judge Ishmael Meyers, recently retired from the Territorial Court bench in the St. Thomas-St. John district. He had served as an assistant commissioner of the former Housing and Community Renewal Department.
– Deandre J. Atwell, of Spectrum Group on St. Croix. Atwell is a former Public Works deputy commissioner for administration.
– Gloria H.C. Waterman, assistant to the governor. She is a retired educator and Public Works special projects coordinator.
– Lawrence E. Hodge, owner/manager of The Finishing Touch on St. Thomas. His company specializes in interior finishing and residential and commercial construction. He is a former deputy executive director, regional director, assistant chief executive officer, operations director and maintenance director of VIHA.
– John M. Dobbins, director of the Finance Department's Treasury Division. He has expertise in developing and managing start-up ventures, expense-reduction strategies, profit-improvement programs and strategic business planning. He is skilled in project management, financial analysis, cost control, contract negotiations and employee supervision.
– Carmencita Donovan, Tenant Council representative for the St. Thomas-St. John district. She was a member of the board just dissolved.
– Irene Hatchett, Tenant Council representative from the St. Croix district.
At its final meeting, on Tuesday, the former board fired VIHA executive director Ray Fonseca, who was appointed to the post last October and immediately began implementing cost-cutting measures because of federal funding cutbacks already imposed and the anticipation of more to come.
Fonseca disbanded the V.I. Housing Authority Police at the end of 2002 and early this year terminated a number of top-ranking VIHA officials. He also canceled a $6 million contract for management of affordable housing programs because, he said, the contractor had missed repeated deadlines and the authority had the technical capabilities do the job in-house.
HUD officials indicated this week that they are not happy with Fonseca's removal.
The release stated that the governor "is confident that the interim board he has appointed, which is tantamount to a blue-ribbon commission, [comprises] experienced, talented and capable Virgin Islanders who have the ability and expertise to turn the Housing Authority around."
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