St. Landry

May 24, 2011 10:59 PM by Maddie Garrett

Opelousas Mayor Upset Over OHA Audit Accusations

The Mayor of Opelousas coming under fire after an independent audit of the Opelousas Housing Authority for the fiscal year from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010.

Mayor Donald Cravins, Sr. said he doesn't often get upset about what is said about him in the public eye, but this recent OHA audit has him fuming.

"I don't have any authority over that agency at all so it's ludicrous to suggest that," said Cravins.

In the independent audit, conducted by CPA William McCaskill of Mandeville, there are accusations the Mayor appointed city employees to the OHA Board, which violates ethics codes and State law.

"Our attorney didn't tell us any different, the Housing Authority Board didn't have any problems with it," said Cravins of the appointments.

Cravins said city workers had been on the OHA Board before he became mayor and at the time he didn't know it was illegal. Once the Board and Cravins were made aware of the problem, hat board member was removed.

"That is in the past. We've worked on that, we've cleared that up and we're moving on," said Joe Ann Tyler, Executive Director of OHA.

But the more serious allegation is that 70% of people on the preference list to receive public housing noted "Mayor" as the reason.

"People come to us on a regular basis needing help. We just simply ask the Housing Authority to give them consideration and if we can help them get housing as soon as possible," said Cravins.

Cravins said he has no control over who gets housing or where a preference list came from. He said when people come to his office asking for help he sends a standardized letter of recommendation to the OHA.

"They are people in need is what they are and I don't apologize for trying to help them," he said.

He also noted that in all the time it took the auditor to put together the 67 page document he was never contacted once to question him about his procedures.

"There was never a conversation, not even a phone call, not even a question relative to how the process worked and I think that would have cleared that up," said Cravins.

Still, the auditor has requested the ethics commission look into the matter. The full audit can be found on the Louisiana legislative auditor's website:
http://app1.lla.state.la.us/PublicReports.nsf/4AC715042132E7DE86257893005524D1/$FILE/0001F3F0.pdf

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