Not a Great Idea

Thursday, January 17, 2013
By Transcript Staff

Everything in life has its pluses and minuses. Even going to jail has an upside (you have plenty of time to relax, you don’t have to worry about paying bills, your spouse and kids can’t bug you, and you know where your meals will be coming from every day).

But in our view, whatever the pluses may be of Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to eliminate the 240 local housing authorities and consolidate them into six regional offices, they are far outweighed by the negatives.

We simply would note that if Gov. Patrick is in favor of this move because of a few bad apples at the local level (such as what happened in Chelsea), it has been our experience that corruption and inefficiency are just as endemic at the state level. Gov. Patrick and his bureaucrats may express disdain for local housing authorities, but the state has had more than its share of political appointees who are useless or worse (for example, the woman who was named by the governor to the Highway Safety Council who had a horrendous driving record and who smashed her state car.)

However, another big motivation behind the move is that regionalization allegedly will save money. But on that issue, does anyone doubt that whatever the projected size of the regional boards may be today, within 10 years they will grow immensely because that simply is the nature of state bureaucracy, and thus any presumed savings will become largely illusional?

But more important, although we do not know what the projected savings may be, it is clear that even if there is some money to be saved, it will come at the expense of the tenants and prospective tenants for whom a local housing authority provides both convenience and excellent service. At some point, it has to be acknowledged that providing services to our citizens comes at a cost, but the cost is worth it. We believe that to be the case here.

Regionalization in some areas of government may be a good thing, but in our opinion, this is one regionalization plan that does not make sense.

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