Cronin tells housing board to quit

Chairman calls out housing authority board after audit

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin is calling for the resignation of all members of the DuPage Housing Authority board in response to a new federal audit that found the embattled agency misspent millions of federal grant dollars.

In a letter to the six housing board members, Cronin said he believes it's in the best interest of the Wheaton-based agency and the residents it serves “to bring in new stewardship as soon as possible.”

Cronin's request comes days after the audit report, prepared by the inspector general's office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the housing authority improperly spent more than $5.8 million in federal money and failed to adequately document another $4.7 million. It was the latest of three federal audits.

Unlike two prior reports, the latest audit specifically calls for the repayment of nearly $5.1 million. It also recommended “administrative action” be taken against former Executive Director John Day and the DHA board.

Cronin, who successfully pushed for the board to replace Day with an interim director, said new commissioners are needed to address various concerns raised by auditors. As county board chairman, Cronin has the power to appoint housing board members.

“It's my belief that a new board of commissioners will not only fulfill the recommendations offered by the OIG (Office of Inspector General) but assure taxpayers that a new leadership team will be in place to execute the objectives of this essential agency,” Cronin said in a statement.

Auditors blamed both Day and the housing board for the agency's failure to follow HUD guidelines and its own policies while administering Section 8 programs.

Federal officials said there are no accusations of theft or fraud related to the findings.

One housing board member said she had no knowledge federal money was used on such things as food, clothes and beverages for staffers, but added Monday that she has resigned.

“He (Cronin) is doing what he has to do,” said Pam Fenner, who had served as the board's vice chairman. “I can't say it was unexpected. I expected him to deal with it in a different manner. But I guess I can't be picky.”

Arthur Donner, chairman of the DHA board, said in a brief interview that he hadn't seen Cronin's letter. When told about it, he said, “It's OK with me.”

Donner said he wasn't surprised to learn that he's been asked to resign. “It was expected given the magnitude of the audit,” Donner said, adding that getting new board members will help with the transition.

The other members of the DHA board are Woodrow Broaders, Edward Merkel, Thomas Myers Jr. and William Maio Jr.