Sen. Henry Clay (1777-1852) said during a speech at Ashland, Ky., in March 1829, "Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees, and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people."
Political assignments, appointments or the hiring of individuals are either politically motivated, a return of a favor, or friendship is involved. It's a sad state of affairs when a situation fizzles.
My mom once told me that I was too up front about my opinions, and she hoped that one day I wouldn't shoot myself in the foot for my outward thoughts. After this past month, I decided to express my opinion as a Newburyport Housing Authority tenant. So, mom, cross your fingers!
For eight years, I have watched the rapid change of housing directors and often wondered what happened, why they left and why some departed so soon after starting. There have been four directors since 2002!
I had never been to a housing board meeting until June 5, 2006. I never knew that the sessions were public forum and that tenants were allowed to sit in! Our tenant council president, at the time, asked 12 of us to attend his meeting for the final interviews for the newly opened director's position. Among the attendees were nine others from the Sullivan Building.
Mark Moquin said one member representing each of the two housing facilities could ask questions to both candidates. Our tenant president was chosen to represent the Horton Terrace group.
The same questions were asked of each candidate after the last questions by board members. Their answers and their demeanor were as different as night and day between the two. When asked about their educational and work experience, Cathy Hogg of Ipswich advised us that she was executive director of the Essex and Groveland housing authorities and had studied social service, as well as — I believe, she said — spending 20 years in working with the elderly and handicapped. She felt she could handle any situation that might arise in dealing with our tenants.
As our tenant council president presented questions to Christine Cashman, she told us that she had been in the Newburyport Community Development office writing grants for 12 years. She never mentioned her educational background. When asked how she would qualify for certification, she mentioned that she was doing some computer studies and she should have her certificate in several weeks, and that she had signed up for a four-day course. Also, when asked how she would handle tenants' problems, she stated that she had staff members to handle and help on those matters.
Mark Moquin broke in at this point and said the meeting was taking a "break" and that the rest of the meeting would be a closed session, and we could leave.
Every one of us looked around at each other and we knew instinctively that Christine would be the executive director. Evidently, Bernice McLaughlin, board member, was also indignant at the decision because she resigned from the board. The Daily News ran the story on June 14, 2006.
Christine was quoted as saying, "you don't need to be already working in the field to take care of people and solve problems."
Now, four years have passed, and Mark Moquin did not get appointed as chairman or member of the Housing Authority Board. My personal opinion is that he is at fault. No one in an appointed position should make comments about fellow city workers in public. My humor is at times dry and sarcastic, but I've learned in 68 years where and how to use it. A lot of comments and letters have been written and everyone, including me, is entitled to their opinion.
Henry Adams (1838-1918) said, "no one means all he says, yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous."
Mark had a good reputation as an attorney, an ally and a friend. Maybe he "was using humor," but humor should be kept in its place, sometimes not in mixed company.
Whatever happens in the Housing Authority, I hope — as a tenant — that we, as a city, will put productive, well-meaning, people-oriented participants in the positions.
I give credit to Mark for his 14-year reign and efforts to run the Housing Authority for such a long period of time. I wish him well.
Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, (1804-1881), "All power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise, that from the people and for the people all springs, and all must exist."
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Sara-Anne Eames lives in Newburyport.