The plan unveiled this week by Gov. Deval Patrick to consolidate 240 housing authority offices across the state and eliminate more than 1,000 politically-appointed local commissioners is aimed at removing waste and corruption from the system, says Patrick.
The action stems, in part, from a slew of corruption scandals uncovered within the public housing system in the past few years. Readers may remember that Peabody featured in that unfolding story as well in 2009.
Former Peabody Housing Authority Executive Director Frank Splaine resigned after news reports uncovered that he regularly spent hours each week at Champions Pub and the Italian-American Citizens Club while he was on the clock.
Those habitual visits were not accounted for in his timesheets, reports revealed.
The local board of commissioners were shocked at the revelation -- Splaine had spent nearly 30 years at the agency and 14 as director without any history of problems the board knew of.
Eventually the board reached an agreement with Splaine for his resignation and gave him a $27,000 severance check. He was earning around $86,000 annually for the state job and still remained on the payroll for several months after the initial reports surfaced.
The board then promoted Ann Marie Burns to take over as Executive Director.
Under Patrick's new proposal, public housing management would be centralized into six regional offices with one executive director and governing board per region.
Each office would also have a small number of managers and maintenance workers that would remain at local housing authorities.
No further details have been released yet on how that will take shape going forward.