Dec 20, 2011 1:31 AM GMT
Yep and some believe the problem is not enough taxation...
Michael E. McLaughlin, who abruptly resigned as Chelsea housing director last month after his $360,000 salary was revealed, put in only 15 full workdays in Chelsea all year to earn his extraordinary paycheck, according to a Globe review of his work cellphone records.
The phone records are like a diary of McLaughlin’s work life, painting a picture of an executive who was constantly on the phone but rarely stayed long in the city where he managed low-income housing. The records show he didn’t go to Chelsea at all on almost half the working days in 2011, spending 47 weekdays in Maine and Florida with his top assistant and close personal friend, Linda Thibodeau. He spent another 21 work days at out-of-state conferences from Phoenix to Miami, usually with Thibodeau.
“The office was just a place [McLaughlin] stopped to delegate to everyone what to do,’’ said one housing authority employee who asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation. “He would come in 9:45 a.m. and out by 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. . . . ‘I’m meeting a guy in Methuen.’ There was always a meeting for lunch or coffee.’’
Yet McLaughlin still portrayed himself as a workhorse, claiming to take so little vacation that he was eligible to sell back unused time to the authority. On the day he resigned, McLaughlin cosigned a check to himself for $81,578 for unused vacation time, a payment that would be legitimate under the terms of his contract only if he had limited himself to four vacation days annually since 2003.
McLaughlin also claimed that he almost never got sick - he reported 3.5 hours of sick time in almost 12 years - an iron constitution that led him to write a check to himself for another $114,237 on his last day as payment for years of unused sick time.
The revelations about McLaughlin’s lax work habits and questionable payments for unused vacation and sick time come amid burgeoning state and federal investigations of the housing authority, which has been taken over by a state receiver in the wake of McLaughlin’s departure and the resignation of the entire board of directors.
The FBI is investigating whether McLaughlin, a former state legislator and longtime Democratic powerbroker, illegally diverted federal funds to his own use. State housing officials tried to stop payment on the checks written to McLaughlin on his last day, but he had already cashed the one for unused vacation time.
“These are disturbing allegations,’’ said Greg Bialecki, secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, in a prepared statement. He said the fact that McLaughlin spent so little time in Chelsea and still claimed to take almost no vacation “further indicates that our efforts to remove the former executive director and board members were the right thing to do.’’