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HUD findings could mean loss of power, penalities

October 30, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The Calexico Housing Authority board of commissioners met here Monday as a pending 32-page report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development likely containing evidence of violations by the board and the authority administration loomed overhead.

Any possible violations could invoke federal penalties that would nullify or retroactively erase many of the board's decisions.

The violations cited in the report could include the misuse of federal funds and procedural miscues by the board, plus mistakes in the internal auditing process of the authority's business by the administration, according to authority interim director Juan Ortiz.

He said the findings in the HUD report could strip the board of some of its powers and include penalties for the administration.

Many agenda items were postponed or tabled until the contents of the report are released, but the board did vote to deny a request from the authority Executive Director Lupita Rios for "payment of vacation time" and Commissioner John Romo's request to travel to Irvine to attend a HUD training seminar with authority staff.


Rios has not been at work since Oct. 19. She is scheduled to return Wednesday, according to Ortiz.

Ortiz said she had been suspended by the board two weeks ago but authority attorney Eduardo Rivera would not comment on the matter.

"It's a personnel issue," he said.

Board Chairman Jesus "Chuy" Solano told the board the HUD report could be made public by the end of the week.

The report has been compiled by a HUD special assessment team, a group of federal housing issues specialists who travel to housing authorities throughout the country to correct problems.

The team's evaluation was requested by Solano earlier in the year, shortly after he was named chairman.

The projects pending for the residents have all been put on hold while the team has inspected the internal operations of the authority and the machinations of the board.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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