Housing Authority Meeting Turns Testy

by | Oct 3, 2013

By John Anderson

The Auburn Housing Authority held its October meeting on Tuesday afternoon at Stoneville Heights. All five board members were in attendance, but Executive Director Lori Brennan was absent due to illness. Prior to Public Comments, Chairman Roberta Briggs cautioned those in attendance that they could make statements about “budget, policy, and finance.” Complaints should be directed to the Director. No comments were made.

Member Joyce W. Lamoreaux was appointed Assistant Treasurer by a unanimous vote of the board. The board approved the Solicitation Policy for all the independent living apartments. Residents can opt out of solicitation by filling out a form at the business office. Maintenance will then affix a sticker to a resident’s door. Stoneville’s Ray Looney III attempted to comment on this procedure, but Chairman Briggs quickly denied him.


Auburn Housing Authority Commissioners meet for their October board meeting. Chairman Roberta Briggs is at the head of the table.

A discussion ensued about the ability of a citizen to ask a question during a board meeting. Vice-Chair Ann Weston said to the chair, “It’s absurd that these people cannot ask a question on an item as we’re going along.”

Weston proposed a motion to allow citizens to speak on agenda items. Wayne Page seconded and suggested that citizen input might generate new ideas for the board. Alice Rea suggested that Public Comments at the end of the meeting could bring up questions, and the Commissioners could review the topic. In an unusual move, Briggs determined the motion was rejected 3-2.

The next agenda item was a discussion about parking spaces at the housing properties. Ms. Weston proposed numbered spaces to alleviate conflict while Ms. Rea felt things should stay as they are. The board voted to make no changes.

Director Lori Brennan’s evaluation and goals were then introduced. Ms. Briggs offered “because four of us have done her [Brennan’s] evaluation, what I will suggest is that we collect the evaluations that have been done, I will go over them, put them together, and I will review them with Lori. It does not have to be in an open session.”

Ms. Weston said that if an evaluation is done outside of public view, more than one board member should be present at the meeting. Wayne Page said there should be public review of the evaluation after it is completed. The last official evaluation of the Executive Director was in 2010. The board agreed that the Chair and Vice-Chair would bring the evaluation results back to the full board where members could make comments on the results.

During the closing public comment, Ray Looney III suggested non-solicitation stickers be placed on both resident doors, and he also  made a comment about parking signs. Looney also questioned the amount of the director’s salary. Chairman Briggs stated the pay scale was determined by what the state said the Authority could pay. Ms. Briggs insisted “we each did our own reviews” of the director before signing her recent 5-year contract.

Chairman Briggs went back to the agenda to discuss the future goals of the Executive Director. Her list included working on the AHA web site, creating a monthly newsletter, updating the policy manual, and updating the preventative maintenance manual. Mr. Page suggested that improved communication with the residents be added, and much discussion ensued. Ms. Weston brought up the unwillingness of the board to define the evaluation process.

When a citizen asked to be recognized, Ms. Briggs said that public comment was closed. Mr. Looney confronted the board since public comment is listed as the last agenda item. Ms. Weston said since the board went back to a previous agenda topic, the citizen should be recognized. Mr. Page made a motion to allow citizen “Sandra” to speak. After her comments, the meeting was adjourned.