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Fayette housing directors question regulation |

Fayette housing directors question regulation

UNIONTOWN – Thomas Harkless, Fayette County Housing Authority executive director, recently issued a slight change of regulations that has two directors questioning their intent.

After a controversial meeting last month, Harkless issued a memo prohibiting employees from responding directly to inquiries from members of the board of directors. The employees already had been barred from giving statements to news media.

Director Angela Zimmerlink believes that this will lead to less oversight of Harkless if he is aware of every inquiry, she said.

“By the executive director specifically inserting ‘a board member’ to his memo, he is, in effect preventing us as board members from obtaining information when we want it, and it limits the ability of us as board members to provide oversight. “Each of us as board members should be able to walk into the administrative office or office at any site or even call and be given the information we request. … I know from experience that asking the executive director directly does not always work,” she said.

But Harkless said he isn’t attempting to control information or muzzle his board of directors. Rather, he is attempting to provide the most comprehensive answer available, he said.

“I am the one who is responsible for the responses. I don’t think this is any different from policies at any other corporation,” he said.

Director Beverly Beal said she is initially supportive of the policy.

“I don’t have a problem with it. But am I always going to abide by it• Probably not,” she said.

Beal said if she feels that information is being withheld, she will simply demand it.

“When I want something, I won’t be put off,” she said.

Zimmerlink’s term ends at the end of the month. However, she has expressed an interest in continuing on the board.

County Commissioner Sean Cavanagh nominated her for another five-year term Tuesday, but his colleagues decided to wait until all names are decided in a raft of appointments that have come due. Commissioner Ron Nehls already has said he will not renominate Zimmerlink, leaving the decision up to Commissioner Vincent Vicites. Vicites said he has not yet made up his mind. “I’ve been getting great input,” he said.

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