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Posted on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ypsilanti City Council investigating city processes after Housing Commission employee's jailing

By Tom Perkins

The Ypsilanti City Council is asking the Ypsilanti Housing Commission for several documents that will reveal whether or not a Housing Commission employee was paid while he was jailed and on leave for more than a month in 2009.

Eric Temple, an administrative specialist with the Housing Commission, was jailed in Texas in 2009 for violating the terms of his probation. He was convicted of felonious theft in 2004 for writing a bad check for a new car in his former hometown of Missouri City, Texas.


Walter Norris, head of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission.

Tom Perkins | For

Council members say they want to know if Temple was paid while he was in jail and on a leave of absence for around 45 days. They also want to know who was aware Temple was on a leave of absence and they have expressed concerns over how the situation was handled.

Among other items, a council resolution asks for Temple’s timesheets from March 1, 2009 through July 31, 2009 and the Housing Commissions’ check registry for 2009. Council also wants the results of a Housing Commission Board of Commissioners investigation into the matter, and it is asking for the documents by April 1.

The resolution passed 5-1, with Mayor Paul Schreiber voting against it.

Housing Commission administration and its board of commissioners have so far refused to answer City Council's or's questions about the matter.

Several council members underscored that the resolution has nothing to do with Temple being a convicted felon while employed with the Housing Commission. Council recently approved removing a box from city applications that asked applicants about felony convictions.

Council members said that they were taking action because of the Housing Commission’s continued culture of secrecy and refusal to answer inquiries about whether Temple was on the payroll while jailed.

They took a break to carefully craft a resolution that did not imply that they were asking for documents because the Housing Commission employed convicted felon.

“This is not about Eric Temple, it is about oversight of the Ypsilanti Housing commission,” Council Member Brian Robb said.

Council Member Ricky Jefferson said he had no problem with someone who had served their debt to society working for the city or Housing Commission.

“The handling of the situation is what I’m concerned about,” he said.

“Was it disclosed that he was jailed in 2009? I want to know. And was there any compensation (during that period)?”

A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report also recently brought the Housing Commission’s transparency into question.

Two commissioners who served when Temple was hired and while he was jailed have refused to answer questions from Jefferson about the matter.

“They were here at the time of his hiring, they were here at the time of the leave of absence, so they were there,” Council member Pete Murdock said. “All they need to do, instead of circling the wagons and not saying what happened; they just need to say what happened.”

City Council has no control over who is hired or fired at the Housing Commission. HUD delivers federal funding to local housing commissions that manage property for low-income residents, and the agencies must comply with strict HUD guidelines and standards.

The housing commission’s staff is overseen by the board of commissioners whose members are appointed and removed by City Council, giving the city at least an indirect way of influencing what happens at the Housing Commission.

Several council members have brought up the possibility of removing the entire Board of Commissioners if the issues continue.

Executive Director Walter 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. Norris previously declined to comment when contacted by and hasn’t made information available to the City Council.

Brazoria County, Texas, records obtained by 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, was held by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and transported to Texas to be jailed in April 2009.

He remained jailed from April 28 to May 8, 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.

According to the Housing Commission’s employee handbook, an employee 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.

It says 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.”

Schreiber said he was in favor of letting the Board of Commissioners investigate what happened and said there appeared to be a communication breakdown between the City Council and the Board of Commissioners. He suggested appointing a council liaison to attend the Housing Commission’s meetings and report back to council.

Jefferson said he would prefer council just look at the information for itself.

“I have trouble with an agency that has been determined substandard investigating itself,” he said.

HUD, which has already flagged the Housing Commission as troubled, said it does not know whether or not Temple was paid while on leave.



Sat, Mar 31, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

What happend to HIRE MICHIGAN FIRST?

Monica R-W

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 9:22 a.m.

"They took a break to carefully craft a resolution that did not imply that they were asking for documents because the Housing Commission employed convicted felon." Tom, could you clarify if "they" took the break during a Open Public Meeting? Who were the "they's"? If so, does the Open Meeting Act 267 of 1976 apply to this break-period?

Brian Robb

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

During discussion at the table, I proposed significant changes to the original resolution. I read those changes out loud to the rest of Council and said that if Council member Jefferson agreed with my changes, he should make the motion to amend the resolution. Council member Murdock suggested we take a 10 minute break to allow Council member Jefferson and I to discuss my proposed changes. During the break, I showed him my changes and then emailed them to him. When we came back into open session, Council member Jefferson read the amendment, someone seconded it, and then we had a very lengthy discussion on the changes. What happened is not nearly as scary or exciting as what is being implied.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 11:45 p.m.

Just like Detroit, this is how it starts and no one wants to step in and put a stop to it.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 1:37 a.m.

If lorie has information that someone is committing housing fraud, she should report it to HUD Inspector General rather than making specious allegations on a forum posting. Truth is the Mayor Schreiber was on the housing commission for nearly 10 years including serving as its chair when the board hired Norris. Schreiber has since appointed or reappointed every member of the current board, and those same board members refuse to meet with council or citizens and refuse to answer any questions about their decisions or actions. The Housing Commission continues to meet in regular closed sessions and are not keeping minutes during those closed meetings which is a violation of the Open Meetings Act. Minutes must be kept of closed session meetings even if not published.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

CountyKate.........You are so right....what is wrong with this picture? Something needs to be done now or it will get out of control.......we do not need another Detroit.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

I find it more than a little interesting that Mayor Paul Schreiber - who was president of the Housing Commission when Walter Norris and Eric Temple were hired - is the lone vote against the investigation. If everything was open and above-board while he was there, why would he not want to get to the bottom of this?

Maier Suchowljansky

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

The lack of transparency and accountability by local HUD officials is troublesome; after all, it's public money. The city's failure to exercise its indirect oversight authority by appointing responsible housing commissioners to protect the city's interests within the HUD structure is also very troublesome. It is a symptom of a broken and ineffective city government. Why would any resident vote to send more money to city government? Why would any outside interest choose to do business here?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

I truly believe these officials are trying to cover up a major problem and this will have a very negative effect on the city if Ypsilanti.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Does all this sound familiar? These are the same problems Detroit started out with and look what has happened to it now. Someone needs to get to the truth about this and fast before it spreads.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

Your wrong, this is how things get out of control.

Monica R-W

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 9:25 a.m.

What? This is one employee and a way smaller Housing Commission than Detroit's Public Housing Authority. Less stay away from "name association" and let the City of Ypsilanti deal with this issue and Detroit, handle theirs.

The Picker

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

The EFM can't get here soon enough !

Monica R-W

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 9:31 a.m.

To do what? What could the EFM do to stop possible situation (if I have Tom's story correct, there's a fact-finding investigation underway by the City of Ypsilanti Government) that occurred, prior to his or her "appointment? What amazes me are individual's who have minimal knowledge on what a EFM actually for a EFM to fix what is clearly, at best, a situation the City Council can and are WILLING (by the vote noted above in Tom's article) to fix.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Typo needs to be corrected to make the sentence below make sense. I don't think that Norris worked with himself in Texas: "Executive Director Walter Norris worked at the Galveston, Texas, Housing Authority with Norris before Norris was terminated from that post in 1996."


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

"Several council members underscored that the resolution has nothing to do with Temple being a convicted felon while employed with the Housing Commission. Council recently approved removing a box from city applications that asked applicants about felony convictions." God forbid we ask people who have positions of trust and management of taxpayer money if they have a criminal past. Personally, I think the City of Ypsi is throwing its doors wide open to crooks and thieves by removing the felony question from its applications. Don't be surprised when more money comes up missing due to crooks being hired without anyone knowing about it in the name of Political Correctness. Ypsi will soon ask its residents to approve a city-wide income tax to stave off an EFM takeover. The City expects its residents to trust them to take care of our money when they are unwilling to even screen out criminals in our local government. Not just petty crminals either, but FELONS. My vote: NO!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 10:21 a.m.

over reach. While the mayor and council nominate and approve the commission members, they do not have oversight. That commission reportings directly to HUD. Its a poorly designed structure in that HUD doesn't have local checks and balances for the HUGE money they over see. Once again this commission oversees/administers some 218 physical units AND some UNKNOWN number of section 8 vouchers. Why can't anyone tell us HOW MANY of those are floating around. I ask because too many landlords are collecting voucher money without having a tenant in place!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

We need bigger government so we can hire more people to watch over the people we already have. then we need the rich to pay their fiar share. then we can all have free health care and lots of other government goodies....I can only HOPE for this kind of CHANGE