Editorials • June 5, 2007
IMPLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY at BHA
IMPLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY AT BHA
Editors, Daily Planet:
Let me get this straight: Back in 2002, HUD said the Berkeley Housing Authority was “troubled” and needed fixing. For five years, the Mayor and Council got reports from Housing Director Steve Barton, describing how he had tried, and failed, to fix the problems. Four BHA managers served under Barton, unsuccessfully. Reports of outright fraud surfaced in the papers more than a year ago. Now, facing an imminent shutdown of the BHA by the feds, the City Council preemptively fires everyone and “reorganizes” the mess. A bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, isn’t it?
So who is accountable? Not the mayor or council, who conveniently replace themselves with their own appointees, people who can be trusted not to investigate what came before. Not Steve Barton, who has suddenly stopped writing memos, and who now says he didn’t know (didn’t know!) what was going on right under his nose. Not the middle managers, who are long gone. And not even the staff: management has conveniently blamed them collectively but punished no individuals, and every full timer “fired” will, per their contracts, simply be “rehired” elsewhere in the city at the same pay. Collective guilt, collective ignorance, collective forgiveness.
Someone(s), somewhere(s), did something(s) very wrong. Twenty-five million dollars managed “incompetently” is nothing to sniff at, especially when that money is intended to house the poor. If the Council cannot or will not investigate this matter, then the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury ought to do it for us all.