A few weeks ago Keri Rodrigues broke a story on her show about the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) investigating the city of Fall River for misuse of funds provided by community block grants to pay for staff in the Mayor's office.
It was the next day when I was able to blog about it and I was surprised that none of the local papers seemed to be covering this. To my amazement WSAR seemed to be the only media source interested in the story.
Now, the investigation is over and although some of the duties performed by the employees hired by these grants were outside of the scope of which the grant money was used for the city is in the clear. Because the city provides rent free space to the Community Development agency it was deemed “reasonable and comparable" in other words a fair trade off.
Great! So the city is in the clear and we don't have to pay back any money.
Why were we investigated? This sounds like we did something wrong and found a justifiable reason for doing it. If the city ever thought that providing rent free space offset the salaries of those employees they would have said so. You and I would have seen the story about the investigation and the city would have responded that they were able to do because they provided free rent to the CDA. They didn't say that and I think it's because they didn't know it, that all came about in the negotiations after the investigation.
Lefty's view: So, why is the issue to me? Simply because the city should have known if it was permissible to use the grant money the way it did. The city should have made sure of it and there never have need for an investigation. The fact there was an investigation leads me to believe that the head of the CDA failed to advise the city properly. The fact that there was no response for Mayor's office when this story leads me to believe that the Mayor failed to advise the citizens.
Good end result despite the mishandling by everyone involved.
For some other views on the HUD see Keri's blog and Fall River Community's