Morris’s termination confirmed

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 19, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / May 19, 2000

LAPLACE – St. John Parish President Nickie Monica confirmed Monday he hasnotified Sheila Morris that her services as chairperson to the St. John ParishHousing Authority Board of Commissioners have been terminated.

Monica was following the wishes of the St. John Parish Council, which votedlast week to fire Morris from the board of commissioners. The action wastaken because the local office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development was very dissatisfied with the way the St. John Parish HousingAuthority was being run and felt Morris was the problem.

HUD said the board was not turning in reports and audits in a timely fashion and was allowing residents into the housing projects who had been evicted by the former housing authority administration.

Chester Drozdowski, director of the HUD office in New Orleans, had said Morris was a member of the former board of commissioners and HUD requested she not be re-instated. But former Parish President Arnold Labatre-hired Morris, and Drozdowski threatened that federal funds to the housing authority could be cut off if Morris was not fired.

Monica said a sheriff’s deputy served notice on Morris Friday afternoon at 5 p.m.”She didn’t sign the receipt for the letter,” said Monica. “But I have anaffidavit from the deputy that Ms. Morris did receive the letter.”According to Monica, Morris has 10 days to inform him if she wants an appeals hearing in front of the parish council. If an appeals hearing is calledfor the council has 30 days in which to conduct it. Monica said the hearing willprobably be in executive session and not open to the public.

Morris said that she will definitely appeal her firing.

“I’m going to appeal just to be able to explain what is going on,” she said.

Morris thinks that the issues brought up by HUD are nothing more than administrative matters, and that HUD knows that it is difficult to get reports done on time because of missing records.

“I don’t think they can hold any one board or person responsible for this,” said Morris.

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