Jim Simones: There are serious problems at MSHA

State Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, has been in the news a lot lately, defending problems at the Maine State Housing Authority. Sen. Craven is defending a quasi-state agency, partially funded by taxpayer dollars, that is apparently plagued with problems and questionable judgment, an agency that is in dire need of a thorough state review.

Contrary to what Sen. Craven believes, the MSHA, headed by Dale McCormick, who was appointed to the position by Gov. John Baldacci, may not be properly fulfilling its mission to provide safe and affordable housing for Maine people and families who cannot afford it.

The Maine Wire and several other news organizations, including the Sun Journal, have recently reported that the MSHA’s vendor list includes magicians, DJs, massages, activist political organizations and hundreds of luxury hotel stays by MSHA staff.

Again, for a taxpayer-funded organization, these expenditures are outrageous. While dollar amounts have not been provided yet by MSHA, just one penny of taxpayer money spent on such unnecessary frivolities, totally outside the scope of MSHA’s mission, calls into question the judgment of the agency and its leaders.

Sen. Craven, however, seems to be in denial that there are troubling issues at MSHA. In a recent Maine Public Broadcasting Network interview, Craven said of MSHA spending money on massages, “... when I asked about it, they said it was somebody who was invited into a conference, that they were having to do neck massages, and I thought, well, a lot of companies do that.”

I beg to differ.

MSHA is partially funded by taxpayer dollars. It is not a private company and it should not be in the business of spending taxpayer dollars on extravagances such as massages.

Instead of encouraging a review into questionable spending at MSHA, Sen. Craven wants Maine citizens to believe this is a “witch hunt,” and recently said in a Sun Journal article referring to Gov. Paul LePage’s and Maine State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin’s concerns about MSHA, “In my personal opinion, the governor, as well as the treasurer, wants to undermine Dale McCormick because she’s a woman, as well as a Democrat. I believe they’re going to try to smear her in any way they can, whether they can prove it or not.”

It is not only troubling that spending is plaguing MSHA at the moment, but part of its mission, which Sen. Craven calls “to make housing affordable — and safe” in her guest column (Sun Journal, Dec. 9), is in question, too. Recent problems at a multi-family house in Norway were appalling and far from safe for tenants of the building. However, an MSHA/Avesta housing inspector did not report the problems and left the tenants living in squalor; in some instances, with sewage coming into their sinks.

It is high time that Sen. Craven and other members of the Maine State Legislature get their heads out of the sand and recognize there are serious problems at the Maine State Housing Authority. MSHA and its director are apparently accountable to no one and have proven that they are plagued with spending problems and bad judgment.

Let’s allow good judgment to prevail and begin a thorough review of this troubled agency.

Jim Simones is chairman of the Greene Republican Town Committee.

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Comments

When it's all said and done I

When it's all said and done I believe that Dale McCormick is going to be neighbors to Paul Violette(if you know what I mean) in the big house. Let's just hope that justice is served to the tax payers. I'm sure there is massagers in the big house, free of charge to the tax payers.

Jim Cyr's picture

Good article Mr. Simones,

I, unlike the deniers, agree that MSHA and it's perceived policies are the problems.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jim Simones: There are serious problems at MSHA

Jim , 12.02.19 21:21 hst •
You pose some serious allegations in your well thought out letter ?
This must be solved before another slumlord from New Gloucester operating in Loystone ( sic . ) lets yet another fire occur and small children perish because the fire alarms aren't working properly for lack of a 9v battery , the fire extinguishers haven't been tested this century or are not even there and the wood is well s e a s o n e d
Doesn't matter if it is in Norway , Sweden , Denmark, Paris , or Naples
Start off with an independent audit of the agency . Independant . Not the ME Attorney General , donja' think also , Hon. Sen. Craven ?
Hire an outside accounting firm . They do this for a living , regularly
Your letter and affiliation begs the question whether your Maine U S Federal Senators are at all concerned about housing problems and the homeless in Maine , also , Jim . Yeah , them . Plenty of finger pointing going on now , huh ? h t h /s, Dr. Dosh , Hawai'i •

Apparently...

Mr. Simones:
Your use of the term "apparently" together with your acceptance and recital of as yet unsubstantiated allegations is of concern to any truth seeker. As you are aware allegations have been made and are now being thoroughly investigated. To make any conclusions at this point based on allegations only is to become a member of a lynch mob out to hang based on current appearances
promulgated by continuous shouts via all media. As a taxpayer, I also am watching this play out, but I will await the investigation's completion prior to any venturing any conclusion let alone partaking in indignant condemnation.

Bob Stone's picture

She needs to report to the board

She's had it her way, free as a bird with "other peoples money", for years. This must stop.

OPEGA will mop the floor with her. No wonder Craven and her friends tried to kill it.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Mr. Stone....can you explain

Mr. Stone....can you explain how someone that has held a position for 2 years is responsible for things that occurred in 1998? I have no problem with holding Ms. McCormick accountable for the last 2 years but I would think that in the interest of truth, justice, and the American way those in the position prior to 2010 would be held accountable for the actions that occurred during their time in the hot seat. It is attitudes that Ms. McCormick is responsible for all that lead others to believe this is nothing more than a witch hunt versus a search for the truth.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

The issue I have with the

The issue I have with the investigation is that they are blaming Dale McCormick. The records, as I understand them, go back to 1998 which is well before Ms. McCormick took the position. If there is wrongdoing then hold Ms. McCormick responsible for the time she has had the position and call others in that held the position before her to answer for the questionable spending that occurred during their time in the position. Holding Ms. McCormick responsible for what happened prior to her watch is what is making this seem like a witch hunt by Governor LePage and Mr. Poliquin, who should come clean on his own questionable behavior.

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