Massachusetts Public Housing Exec Forced Out in Salary Scandal ~

The head of a public housing agency in the working-class Boston suburb of Chelsea, Mass., quit his job on November 3 after Governor Deval Patrick publicly criticized his inflated salary, the Boston Globe reports (“ High-pay housing director resigns,” by Andrea Estes and Sean P. Murphy). Michael E. McLaughlin, the head of the Chelsea Housing Authority since 2000, had reportedly received a $25,000 raise every year since starting the job, ending with a $360,000 annual salary, the Globe reported. Moreover, McLaughlin admitted deceiving state housing authorities about his compensation, reporting on official forms that his pay was only $160,000. McLaughlin told the Globe that the deception was a result of what he called “the rebel in me.” Governor Patrick told the Globe that McLaughlin’s conduct made him “boiling” mad: “It’s an outrage. Here we are flat-funding public housing, trying to hold on through the worst economy in living memory, and not only is the executive director feathering his nest, but he’s misrepresenting to us what he’s doing. That just can’t stand.’’ The governor had temporarily frozen state funds for the Chelsea agency just hours before the director’s resignation. The Authority oversees 1,415 units. McLaughlin was paid far more than other executives running much larger agencies, the Globe reported: “The Boston Housing Authority, the city’s largest landlord, pays William McGonagle $135,906. The New York City chief makes $197,364.” And as a retiree, McLaughlin could receive an annual pension of $279,000 — by far the highest pension ever awarded by Massachusetts to anyone. But state Inspector General Gregory Sullivan has urged officials to cut the pension in half, basing it on the salary McLaughlin reported to the state agency, rather than on his much larger actual compensation. “He hid it and didn’t receive the requisite legal approval for this windfall,” said Sullivan. “We are hopeful that his pension will be knocked down to a reasonable level.” On November 3, Federal agents for the Department of Housing and Urban Development were investigating McLaughlin and the Chelsea Housing Authority, the Globe reported (“ HUD examines Chelsea agency,” by Andrea Estes and Sean P. Murphy). “The investigators from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides much of the Chelsea agency’s funding, stopped employees at the door of the Locke Street administrative offices, asking their names and positions and whether anyone had asked them to shred documents.” Meanwhile, Governor Patrick said he would require 200 other public housing agencies in Massachusetts to re-submit their financial statements, the Globe reported.