Fiasco on housing board
The appearance of an imposter on the roster of housing authority board members requires an explanation.
Film director and actor Woody Allen is well known for asserting that "80 percent of success is showing up."
What's less well known is that he must have been talking about serving on the board of the Champaign County Housing Authority, an agency torn asunder by ongoing debate about how Margaret Neil obtained a seat on the board.
Did she just appear one day and establish squatter's rights to a board seat? Or, as Neil claims, is she a victim of sloppy record-keeping that failed to document that she was elected in 2009 by a members of a property advisory board? Neil contends that Ed Bland, the district's executive director and the board's secretary, is responsible.
Whatever the reason, it would appear that no formal appointment of Neil was ever sent to the Champaign County Board for confirmation, the result being that she never was a properly serving board member.
That reality has considerably complicated the picture because Neil ascended to the position of chairwoman of the housing board and was a signatory on numerous resolutions and legal documents clearing the way for conducting the day-to-day business of the housing authority. Board members are trying to determine the legal effect, if any, that Neil's illegitimacy will have.
There's nothing like misunderstandings such as this to undermine the public's confidence in how their taxes are being spent.
Neil sat on the board for four years before questions were raised. At the very least, Bland acquiesced to Neil's claim to a board seat and, given what has transpired recently, one has to ask why he remained silent for so long.
There is no question that running the housing authority, with its myriad of challenges, is a tough job. But it ought to be easy to keep track of how and when individuals are recommended to serve and then confirmed by the county board. That such a lapse should occur is inexcusable and requires a complete explanation.