Friday, September 14, 2018

First's FOIL Request

In June, the Register-Star reported that, over the prior fifteen years, the Hudson Housing Authority had lost close to $750,000 in unpaid rent on its properties, Bliss Towers and the low-rise: "Hudson Housing Authority back rent losses $750,000 in 15 years." The article reported that HHA Board of Commissioners member Peggy Polenberg blamed former HHA executive director Jeff First for failing to collect back rent and quoted her as saying, "He [First] would just allow anybody to live here and they would be allowed to live here forever and they're gone."

In response, First, presumably in an effort to redeem his tarnished legacy, made a FOIL request for all records dating back to 1998, a request that was characterized at the HHA Board meeting on Wednesday night as "asking for his whole work history as executive director." A letter making the request reportedly cited "allegations made and published in the local newspaper without allowing him to rebut." In today's Register-Star, Amanda Purcell, who wrote the article that reported the allegations, has an article about the FOIL request: "Ex-housing authority chief denies rent claims."

What's interesting is that just before the HHA Board got to First's FOIL request on the agenda for Wednesday night's meeting, it was revealed that in the past year, since the new executive director Tim Mattice has taken over, HHA had $38,301.36 in uncollectable debt, either from tenants who were evicted or from tenants who left owing back rent. That amount multiplied by fifteen results in a pretty significant number: $574,515. Not quite $750,000 but significant nonetheless.

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