April 20, 2019
BANGOR DAILY NEWS (BANGOR, MAINE

I was appalled at what I witnessed Wednesday, April 24, at the Bangor Housing Authority Board of Commissioners’ monthly meeting. The board had the 1-year-old pet policy on the agenda for review.

Commissioner Mary-Anne Chalila motioned to rescind the policy (grandfathering those who had legally registered their pets), and Commissioner John McDonough seconded the motion. A discussion ensued, wherein both Commissioners Chalila and McDonough voiced their support to rescind the pet policy. Those opposed to the rescission were deep in discussion about working out a realistic policy (as the current policy requires tenants to pay one month’s rent — with a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $300 — for a pet; regardless of whether it’s a fish bowl or a cat or a bird in a cage), when Commissioner McDonough got up to leave to go home and Coffey (who is not even a board member, but acts as secretary) interrupted the discussion and directed the following statement to Commissioner McDonough: “Please, can’t you stay, this will come up for a vote in a moment,” or words to that effect.

You see, Mrs. Coffey has indicated on many occasions that she didn’t want pets in public housing. And here was her chance to get what she wanted, but not if the vote of Commissioner McDonough walked out the door before the vote was taken.

The executive director openly, in a public meeting, attempted to stack the vote of a policy decision. And Commissioner McDonough obediently sat back down.

On top of that, the executive director was allowed to give side of the issue, but the tenants were ignored. The tenants in the audience were told that this was a meeting for the commissioners and that if they had something to say, to go through BHCAT (the residents council for tenants of public housing). The chairperson erred in assuming the audience consisted of only public housing tenants. There were several tenants there from non-public housing (privately owned housing developments wherein the Housing Authority is the property management agent) — BHCAT cannot, by federal law, represent them.

The chairperson further erred in not reprimanding Mrs. Coffey for inappropriate behavior.

Unbelievable! Don’t the tenants have a right to voice their opinion? Shouldn’t individuals affected by a pending decision have the right to voice their concerns? City Hall allows the public, in a public meeting, to step up and speak; how is the board of commissioners any different? It is a public meeting! Paul Ciraso Bangor


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