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Aug.1, 2003 – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued an ultimatum to the V.I. Housing Authority to go into voluntary receivership on Friday that apparently went ignored as Gov. Charles W. Turnbull moved in another direction to address the federal government's concerns about the agency.
"The Virgin Islands Housing Authority has until the close of business today to respond to HUD's request to voluntarily transfer control to HUD," Donna White, a public information officer for the federal agency, said on Friday.
She did not indicate what would happen if VIHA failed to act by the 5 p.m. deadline, saying the federal agency wanted to give the housing authority full latitude to act, even down to the last minute.
The governor, meanwhile, announced that he has turned to recently retired Territorial Judge Ishmael Meyers to lead an interim VIHA board of commissioners.
For a look at the persons the governor picked to serve for the next six months — Meyers, Deandre J. Atwell, Gloria H.C. Waterman, Lawrence Hodge, John Dobbins, Carmencita Donovan and Irene Hatchett — see "Governor names 7-member interim VIHA board".
Turnbull had written to Michael Liu, HUD assistant secretary for Indian and public housing, on Wednesday expressing opposition to both voluntary and involuntary receivership. He proposed to Liu instead "a strategy that together with the support of your office will resolve the problem."
"The intervention that I am requesting in my capacity as the chief executive of the United States Virgin Islands is reasonable," the governor wrote. The part of the solution involving replacing the old board of commissioners with the interim panel became a done deal late Friday afternoon.
Turnbull said in the letter that his administration is willing to enter into a "memorandum of agreement" with HUD "that will address all of the problem areas." And he asked for a meeting between HUD representatives and the interim board, expressing the expectation that "this meeting will represent a new start in moving the process forward."
He also said that he will ask the interim board to hire "an eminently qualified individual with the experience and knowledge base that all Virgin Islanders will consider capable of managing and guiding the authority during the interim period."
The just-dissolved VIHA board, in its final meeting on Tuesday, fired executive director Ray Fonseca. HUD subsequently expressed displeasure at that move.
The governor told Liu that Delegate Donna M. Christensen agrees that his approach to resolving VIHA's problems "is reasonable."
White withheld comment on the governor's last-minute appeal, saying only that HUD had received the letter and that Turnbull would be receiving an answer soon.

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