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Posted on Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Report: Ypsilanti Housing Commission employee received vacation pay while jailed in Texas

By Tom Perkins

An Ypsilanti Housing Commission employee received vacation pay while jailed in Texas in 2009.

According to a Housing Commission report, Eric Temple, an administrative specialist, received pay for 147 accrued vacation hours while serving 10 days in jail and going through the legal system in Michigan and Texas for nearly two months.

Temple was convicted of felonious theft in 2004 for writing a bad check for a new car in his previous hometown of Missouri City, Texas.

In total, Temple was paid for 18.4 work days of the approximately 55 total days he was on personal leave from his position and tied up in the Brazoria County jail and legal system.

But Housing Commission personnel policies do not specifically prohibit employees from using personal leave to serve time in jail. There also are no policies against employees receiving vacation pay while in jail.

The Housing Commission and its Board of Commissioners have not taken any action against Temple.

Housing Commission Executive Director Walter Norris told that Temple didn’t disclose that the leave of absence was to serve jail time, but to deal with a legal situation. Norris said he had “no idea” about Temple’s whereabouts.

But he added the situation was addressed “properly within context of (personnel) policy, and I don’t think there should be any further reaction.”

The commission is funded with federal tax dollars administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Although HUD has been investigating YHC for a litany of issues that include a lack of transparency, executive mismanagement and financial discrepancies, it has so far not taken any action over Temple being paid while jailed.

HUD officials at regional offices in Detroit and Chicago previously said they didn’t know if Temple was paid with taxpayer dollars while serving time. They said they were “deeply concerned” about the situation but have not returned follow up calls or emails from

But some Ypsilanti City Council members have expressed growing frustration with what they charge is a lack of transparency in the Housing Commission. Several council members previously underscored that they are not concerned that Temple is a convicted felon, but are concerned about him being paid while jailed and with the Housing Commission’s lack of transparency.

The Housing Commission and Board of Commissioners had previously declined to answer questions from or City Council regarding the situation.

Council Member Ricky Jefferson said he didn't think Temple should have been paid, but acknowledged there was nothing in the Housing Commission's rules that said he couldn't receive his vacation pay.

But he questioned how Norris was unaware that Temple was jailed.

"It very unlikely that Mr. Norris did not know that his employee, Mr. Temple, was convicted while on trial in October 2004, and that he was jailed in April 2009 in both Michigan and Texas," Jefferson said.

At its March 20 meeting, the City Council asked for several items in a resolution, including Temple’s timesheets from March 1, 2009 through July 31, 2009 and the Housing Commissions’ check registry for 2009.

The resolution passed 5-1, with Mayor Paul Schreiber voting against it. The Housing Commission provided a summary report, but not the check registry or other requested documents.

Schreiber said the report concluded that there was no violation of Housing Commission policy. He did not say he felt there was an ethical concern when asked.

"As long as no YHC policies were violated concerning Eric Temple, I think the YHC board should be concentrating on getting out of HUD troubled status," Schreiber said in an email.

"I think there are better ways to spend vacation than in jail, however, if he wants to spend his vacation there, it's OK with me," he later added.

The City Council cannot remove Housing Commission employees. Only the council-appointed Board of Commissioners and HUD can do that. Several council members have discussed removing the Board of Commissioners and implementing a new board that will take action.

Council member Pete Murdock said he isn't sure there's anyone suitable or willing to serve on the Board of Commissioners.

"Until HUD takes (the Housing Commission) over, we’re going to have the saga of Walter Norris a board that cant shoot straight," Murdock said.

Jefferson said he wants the current Board of Commissioners unseated.

"It is time to remove the (Board of Commissioners) to restore accountability and suitable oversight of the YHC executive director," he said. "I will confer with council and the city attorney to determine how to proceed."

According to documents obtained by, Temple was jailed in Texas in 2009 for violating the terms of his probation.

Brazoria County, Texas, records show Temple was sentenced to five years probation for writing a bad check between $1,500 and $20,000. He was allowed to leave the state to take his job at the YHC.

According to an official with the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department, Temple failed to complete the terms of his probation and was held by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department after being arrested on April 13, 2009.

He was jailed from April 28 to May 8 in Texas, and court records indicate that he wasn’t allowed to leave Texas until June 5. Records also show Temple had two other convictions for writing bad checks dating back to 1991.

Housing Commission personnel policies state employees can take a leave of absence of up to 30 days every three years, and an additional 30 days if approved by the executive director.

The handbook states that leave is granted without payment, but “with the supervisor's approval, an employee may take any available vacation, personal or compensatory leave as part of the approved period of leave.”

In his report on the Temple situation to the City Council, Norris said Temple requested a leave of absence for legal reasons. Norris said the leave and vacation pay was consistent with personnel policies.

“I concluded that the circumstances of the reported conviction do not interfere with Mr. Temple’s ability to do his job,” Norris wrote in the report. “There has been no indication of any workplace misconduct. There has been no misrepresentation or dishonesty with regard to the leave either. Therefore, I have not made any disciplinary recommendations."

He recommended the Housing Commission’s legal counsel make changes to the personnel policies.

Among those suggested are disclosure of felonies while employed with the Housing Commission and greater checks on employees in “positions of policymaking or discretionary authority over public assets".

Norris has said the conviction has no impact on Temple’s job. He didn’t specify on Temple’s responsibilities, but said job duties published in a 2003 advertisement for the position included “grant writing of grant funded programs, resident council formation, and administrative responses to HUD for numerous administrative areas.”

Norris worked at the Galveston, Texas, Housing Authority with Norris before Norris was terminated from that post in 1996. He is responsible for bringing Temple to Ypsilanti after starting here in 2003.


Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

good grief ! compiled to bring reason to the top : rich park: "What part of nothing illegal or even against the rules did you miss? All the BS going on in the city and this is the non-issue you decide to report? More than likely to exert some power where the council has none to wield and try to force someones hand." if our intepid community reporter has a pwersonal ax to grind (which >appears< to be somewhet accurate), find a diferent wheel. basic bob: "The Housing Commission and city can't dictate what an employee does on his vacation." ganting time off is not conditinal upon 'why' you need it. unless someone thinks we regressed to a pre-america structure. shepard145: "He can spend his vacation days any way he likes - it's no business of his employer. Do you think every dude who spends a few days in the clink for a DUI is or should be fired?" leezee: "It's no ones business how he used his time off. Period." anohter free americahn joins the chourus mihrzel: "What IS this? -- Vacation pay is something earned and accrued for when one decides to take time off. This pay had already been earned, and you're trying to make this into an issue of vacation pay being drawn while this fellow is in jail?" what is this? ummm, waste of electrons?


Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Ricky Jefferson, Lois Richardson and Bob Hunter are quick to condemn anything that goes wrong at the Housing Commission but does not say a peep about misdeed that happens in other departments. Why haven't the three of them come out and voice their opinions about the dreadful $600,000 that was left in a bank account the funds of which was to be used to provide much needed health services their many of their constituencies. Lois Richardson is the last of the Ypsi Council Members who supported that debacle called Water Street. If anybody need to be criticize and scrutinized in the press she should be.

Rich Park

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 5:41 a.m.

Not a Boy Scout this guy, and probably not the guy I would want to be handling my finances. But where was the fault in the YHC for giving him his vacation pay and a requested leave? I agree there should be more disclosure and accountability in the Government hiring process. And I also believe there should be more transparency into the finances of our elected officials. Not witch hunts but total disclosure of all assets of public employees and elected officials.


Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

Rich be the first Tell me what's in your closet,bank account etc.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

What IS this? Vacation pay is something earned and accrued for when one decides to take time off. This pay had already been earned, and you're trying to make this into an issue of vacation pay being drawn while this fellow is in jail? There MAY be a story about the felony conviction. Dunno. But, implying that taking vacation pay is someone fraudulent does not belong here AT ALL! Just what is your motivation for this "story?"

Rich Park

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 5:22 a.m.

This is what I'm saying 100 million stories in the naked city, why this one. This reporters time would be better spent actually reporting on something untoward or actually illegal. I mean this is Ypsi we're talking about, nothing illegal going on?


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Yup and at least the third story on the same subject/man. If he is failing in his job performance, then YHC should fire him. Otherwise LEAVE the man alone.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Tom, I have some questions more generally for context: We know about the 218 units, how many section 8 vouchers are handled by the Ypsi commission? Nobody names a number and yet one of the biggest forms of housing fraud are from landlords collecting voucher money on units not longer occupied by the respective people. Same for other housing commissions in the areaHow many units and how many vouchers)...and then how much does the staff get paid position by position? Say how does the scope of size of the mission compare with, say, Ann Arbor's Commission and how much does their respective staff get paid?


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Great Pic!


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

thats the office!


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

"Norris worked at the Galveston, Texas, Housing Authority with Norris before Norris was terminated from that post in 1996." Wha...what? Did Norris work with himself, a relative, or even Chuck Norris...? And which Norris was terminated from the post? Or as Wakko Warner says, "I'm confused...."


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Tom - last PP - think it was Temple that work with Norris before Norris was Terminated.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

I care that he is a convicted felon - convicted of writing bad checks. He's in charge of the money at the housing commission!! That job should have a requirement similar to the Section 19 of the FDIC act (no frauds allowed). I care that a housing commission employee violated his parole while working for the housing commission. Those are our tax dollars. Saying that spending 10 days in jail and "time going through the legal system" in two states doesn't impact his work is ludicrous! His job didn't get done while he wasn't here. AND either his job isn't necessary, or there was an impact! And, frankly, if his job includes reporting on the finances - he is clearly not getting it done!

Rich Park

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 5:29 a.m.

But the story there isn't about him it is about controls to prevent this from happening in the future. This story is clearly a move to keep the standards that allowed him to be hired in the first place while forcing his supervisor to somehow make this guy go away.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Obama is dismantling the US economy and THIS is a story. He can spend his vacation days any way he likes - it's no business of his employer. Do you think every dude who spends a few days in the clink for a DUI is or should be fired? ...but this story is perfectly normal in the nanny state democrats are trying to construct. Your business is EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS. Vote in November like your future depends on it.


Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

Republicans are for the nanny state!


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

It's no ones business how he used his time off. Period.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

Shall we all pick and choose what prints? Keep up the good work Tom.....some one has to inform the community when things are not right.....thank you.


Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Class-warfare, nanny state,middle class envy,pension envy,benefit envy take your pick.this is not really news just an attack on municipalities. those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Rich Park

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 5:14 a.m.

What part of nothing illegal or even against the rules did you miss? All the BS going on in the city and this is the non-issue you decide to report? More than likely to exert some power where the council has none to wield and try to force someones hand.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Nope, I do not see the comparison, other than the auto industry outsourcing/plant closing and a council that is ineffective and way too selfish. (my opinion only) When things get tough, they quickly switch issues and look at someone/something else. Ypsi is a small geographic area, with much of it's area taken up by EMU, non-taxed. It has no where to grow. Detroit has the opposite problem, too much geographic territory. The land disaster, Water Street, was a poor choice by some prior officials but it is done and over with. There's been no allegation of corruption etc in Ypsi. Detroit has been a breeding ground for such corruption. Ypsi was once a small sleepy college town and when WW2 hit became Bomber Central....then quickly became Auto Central. Auto industry deserted them. Now it needs an identity. Ypsi doesn't seem to have any saviors waiting in the wings like Ilitch or Gilbert or Karmanos. All just my opinion. I see it as very different situations.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Again I ask you to compare it to the way Detroit started falling.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

Freelance writers are either writing what people want to read or they aren't freelance writers any more. I think we all know that. The City is on the brink of disaster. I'm a lot more concerned about the financial issues than the YHC personnel matters. Council once again deflects real issues and jumps on an employee, not of the City but of the YHC. Physician HEAL THYSELF! If only the Council was working on their own financial crisis.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

Tom, this witch hunt is getting beyond disgusting. The man served his time, and by all accounts is a good employee. This is what...3rd or 4th article about him? I'm not sure why you have written numerous articles about this one man, who by ALL accounts, served his time and is doing a good job for the commission. Anyone familiar with City of Ypsi politics sees this for what it is...more foolish political bickering, this time using Mr Temple as their weapon. Perhaps the Council should be spending more time worrying about being taken over soon by an EFM (after defeat of both of their requested tax increases). Then they will be powerless. After reading all of this smearing of one person for political gain, I think an Emergency Financial Manager might be just the ticket for the City. Because clearly the elected officials are fiddling while Ypsi burns.

Rich Park

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 5:10 a.m.

I agree Cash! This sounds like someone is pulling strings to go after this guy for nothing. And just like in Detroit the City council wants to control something that don't concern them. Political witch hunt? Sounds like it too me.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

That is why I referenced Detroit Cash.....I know you can see the similarities.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

This whole situation reminds me of how Detroit started falling apart....we need to stop this now and not continue the cover up.

Rich Park

Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 5:33 a.m.

What cover up? This non issue has been played out. And there is ALOT more to why Detroit started to fall apart, had more to do with racism . The corruption followed that.

Basic Bob

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 10:22 a.m.

The Housing Commission and city can't dictate what an employee does on his vacation. He is skilled at his job and has earned the trust of his superiors. He served his sentence and is giving back to the community. We could do a lot worse.


Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

That's right Bob. The Tom Perkins witch hunt after this man....should end. This isn't news, it's more like TMZ, except this guy isn't even famous.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

I agree with part one of your statement 100%. I can't speak to the rest as I don't know the guy nor how well he does his job.