The audit of the Omaha Housing Authority that many were looking forward to left as many questions as it “answered”.
The first is, what was the holdup in releasing the document in the first place? There didn’t seem to be any justification in the delay, and that makes it questionable on any of these type of documents.
As far as the body of it, there were a few nuggets to pull:
The report was extremely harsh on former Omaha City Councilmen Fred Conley and Frank Brown, as well as current Councilman Ben Gray.
Brown was the Executive Director of “Housing in Omaha” a non-profit organization formed to assist OHA. As E.D., Brown was paid over $77,000 per year, but, according to the report, he had…
Minor small business experience (company failed). No private or public housing experience and very limited management experience. Elected official. Took advantage of position to get job created for him at HIO. Rather than making a contribution through his job, seemed to have impeded normal functioning for personal power.
This position amounted to an unnecessary transfer of functions already being performed by OHA staff and added to HIO’s losses.
Oh, and who was the guy who lead OHA at the time Brown was installed?
Ashford generally gets cited in the report as “keenly interested in improving the OHA governance,” though this was apparently after he propped up Brown. Ashford was generally “credited” with working on the main court settlement at issue, however…
In complying with the requirements of the settlement, OHA made a number of flawed business decisions that ultimately led to the development and occupation of properties that were not able to sustain themselves financially.
Our results show significant issues over the period from 2002 through 2011 related to the use of governmental funds, inaccurate financial reporting, ineffective governance, and poor financial management / internal control.
The kicker of the report was that OHA was directed to repay over a million dollars because of the malfeasance.
HUD told them to pay it back over 6 months.
Their counter-offer was paying it back over 40 years.
(Yes, FORTY YEARS.)
CONGRESSMAN Brad Ashford then jumped in to try to get HUD to lay off OHA by writing them a letter, as a Congressman, and trying to get Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse to sign the letter too.
The Senators did not sign.
Considering his major position and involvement at OHA, some consider his sticking his nose into the Federal procedures to be a conflict of interest, at best.
But the report is particularly scathing towards Conley (“no prior housing related experience“) , and current Omaha City Council President Ben Gray (“no housing or business related experience“).
Fred Conley/Ben Gray have unduly influenced several management decision i.e. reversing a staff termination through extraordinary change in personnel policy, pushing contracts to preferred vendors against management’s recommendations, raising the question as to whether they were serving the “constituents’ interests” or OHA’s best interests.
You’re not going to believe this, but Conley and Gray disagree with the findings of the report.
ICYMI, State Senator Ernie Chambers grabbed himself some official state stationery and some scissors and Elmers Glue and made a pretty letter to the Governor, making fun of the Chicago Cubs, Ricketts’ family and Ricketts’ legislative success.
Chambers’ “poem“, which would insult most 4th Graders, goes like this:
BIG SHOT & BIG SHOT, JR. MAKE HISTORY
Governor Ricketts, most folks agree:
“THE NUT NEVER FALLS FAR FROM THE TREE.”
One more and then, with proverbs, I am done”
“JUST LIKE FATHER, USUALLY, IS SON.”
Father Ricketts’ ball team is The Cubs.
(Sometimes, they play like ragamuffin scrubs.)
The other day, Cubs fans turned bitter,
Watching “their” Cubs suffer a NO-HITTER.
By your Father, you were not outdone.
Peter Ricketts, you’re your Father’s son.
Confidently, you stepped to the plate;
On your shoulders lay a heavy weight.
As with “them Cubs,” (tho’ you be no quitter) —
Legislators pitched you a NO-HITTER.
This was in the LJS.
No word as to whether they asked Chambers why his letter and poem were printed on taxpayer-funded stationery.
Or why, according to unicameral staffers, we hear that Chambers prints his “Erniegram”…usually multiple pages, printed in color on the state copier, at least 60 copies, produced almost daily during session and once every week or two during the interim.
And we are always hearing about how brilliant Chambers is.
Maybe someone could teach him to use one of those TV-typewriter gadgets, and the electronic mail on the Information Superhighway.
And, no reason to link here…
…but it is interesting that Chambers, of all people, would mock Joe Ricketts success as a father.
Just going to leave it at that.
(And, “they play like ragamuffin scrubs“? Geez even Don Walton points out that Chicago is only 2 games out of the Wildcard…)
Boy, just think what Ernie could have come up with about Steve Bartman…
And this just in from The Twitter:
Lautenbaugh has kids in school, and “hates to fly”.
But “Ever” is such a long time…
And just a note to be sure to hear the exclusive podcast with former Congressman Lee Terry on The Wheels Down Politics Show.
This is Terry’s first interview since leaving office. (We think.)
Give it a click, and tell a friend!