'Back to the drawing board'

'Back to the drawing board'

URBANA — Champaign County Board Chairwoman Pattsi Petrie responded to a call for her resignation over a canceled appointment to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners by admitting that the appointment process is flawed and saying the county is going back to the drawing board.

On Tuesday night, community activist Terry Townsend called for Petrie's resignation, alleging that she broke the law by appointing Linda Turnbull in May to the Housing Authority of Champaign County board without full county board approval. Petrie said she did not appoint Turnbull because Turnbull had been elected by the resident advisory board. Federal law requires that at least one sitting board member is a resident of the housing authority, and the current bylaws call for an election of that official by the resident advisory board, Townsend said.

Turnbull won that election, and on April 28, she was seated on the housing authority board. On May 25, Townsend wrote the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, saying the process was illegal.

On May 26, Turnbull was taken off the board when the resident advisory board decided to redo the election due to confusion surrounding the process because a change in the bylaws no longer required the election to be certified by an outside party, as it had been in the past.

But Townsend said the process used was still not legal because the county board has the appointment power, not the residential advisory board.

"This was a deliberate act (by Petrie) to circumvent the (county) board, state law and federal law," Townsend said. "Federal law and state law is against you. You're not going to win this."

Petrie said that she, former county administrator Deb Busey and Housing Authority Executive Director Ed Bland tried to sort the problem out by working with the state's attorney's office to change the bylaws, though it clearly did not work. Townsend said she has no business messing with the bylaws of the tenants' association.

"Mr. Townsend is accurate from the perspective that it is a very confusing aspect and that the state and federal law do not work well together," Petrie said.

She said the problem was that Champaign and Urbana, the other entities with appointment powers, are home-rule communities and can sacrifice their appointment power, but the board cannot. Petrie said she and County Administrator Rick Snider asked to meet with Townsend, but he declined.

"The state's attorney said we did not do anything illegal, nor did the attorney for the housing authority. I have suggested we go back to the drawing board," Petrie said. "Again, we are working on it. It would've worked much better if Mr. Townsend had had a meeting with us, and if he had had the courtesy of sending us a carbon copy of his letter to the Chicago HUD office."

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rsp wrote on June 15, 2016 at 5:06 am

But Townsend gets much more attention by doing it this way. Why on earth would you go to people and give them a chance to correct a mistake?