According to one employee in particular, the blame is currently directed towards the Board of Commissioners for their conference meetings, which deterred allocations to cover union contracts and spending near the West Side in Stanislaus County.
On the May 2013 agenda, the Housing Authority approved a travel and training seminar for the NAHRO Summer Conference to be held in Denver, CO. from July 18 to 20th. One staff member and three Commissions were subject to attend. Each individual was budgeted at $2,100 per individual.
According to the conference’s syllabus, seminars included “Rise & Shine Yoga,” “Miscellaneous Meetings,” “ZUMBA!” sessions, an “NAHRO Dance Club” and continental breakfasts.
“During that month, they spent $7,500 going to ZUMBA and dancing around,” said one anonymous employee. “The executive director, Bill Fagan, he buys them and sends them on trips all over. And of course they’ll pass it because they are the ones going. They are not using the money properly and spending money that can be used on the half completed projects in Patterson.”
The employee went on to say that the 129 homes were bought from National Stimulus Package funds, but only 14 of those homes were purchased for the Westside. The employee laid the fault at Chairman Diana Haile, who resides in the 5th District, for her inadequate representation to the valley’s West Side.
“Haile approved three projects,” the employee added. “Two in Modesto and one in Waterford, and they still haven’t even finished phase two on Las Palmas’ Senior Center in Patterson. That lot is still open and no one is doing anything about it. They vote and pass everything and never ask questions. When you’ve been appointed as a commissioner, you need to be involved.”
Union members are just as angry at Stanislaus County Board Supervisor Jim DeMartini for allegedly appointing Haile to the commission, as well as his un-involvement in the stalemate between the authority and union.
On Monday, Aug. 19, DeMartini stated that Haile was chosen to represent the West Side because “no one else in the past was interested in the seat.”
“There is some type of labor dispute between the housing authority that is not under county control,” said DeMartini. “We don’t know too much about it. They are a federal program and they have their own board. We cannot influence their decisions.”
DeMartini stated that he has heard allegations against Haile, however, he doesn’t know the specifics of the aggravation.
“The union doesn’t like her, and it is all over a contract,” he said simply. “I know they’ve been trying to drag us into this dispute for a while, but there is nothing we can do. We have absolutely nothing to say about the criteria or guidelines.”
Despite DeMartini’s defense, employees said they’ve regularly invited him personally to their board meetings, and have even asked permission to get his staff to participate. Employees said their goal was to convince the county supervisors to appoint a new board of commissioners.
During the Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners’ meeting Thursday, Aug. 14, various employees balked at the Commission’s 5-1 decision to offer only a two percent cost of living increase, despite the union pleading for a two and a half increase.
“It didn’t go over very well,” said one employee. “They took away another $12,000 from us to waste it on dancing.”
The Commissioners’ responded that the raise was similar to what other housing authorities were given throughout the valley and emphasized that many were not given any raises while some employees were forced to take furlough days.
Employees said the commissioners’ demeanor was enough to provoke outrage as they occasionally acted coldly against the union’s endeavors and would begin rolling their eyes, acting out or clapping their hands during the allotted meetings.
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