New London board fires housing authority director

New London — The New London Housing Authority Board of Commissioners on Tuesday abruptly voted to fire Executive Director Roy Boling as it explores the possibility of hiring a management company to run the authority.

The board voted 3-1 both to terminate Boling’s contract and to rehire Lee Erdmann as interim executive director. Boling’s contract includes a provision that allows the board to terminate his contract without cause with a 30-day notice.

Chairwoman Betsy Gibson and commissioners Shannon Heap and Jeanette Parker voted in favor. Commissioner Kathleen Mitchell voted against and accused the commission and Mayor Michael Passero of conducting housing authority business without the full knowledge of the board.

The firing comes less than a year after the board voted to terminate the contract of former housing authority executive director Sue Shontell. Erdmann, the former chief financial officer and city manager of Hartford, served a stint as interim director after Shontell left in November.

Gibson and other commissioners declined to comment on the reason for Boling’s termination, but the rift between Boling and other commissioners became evident during a board meeting in September.

Boling at that Sept. 26 meeting alleged lies and a distortion of facts by Gibson concerning the possibility of hiring a management company to replace authority employees. The board that night voted to prepare a request for qualifications for a management company.

Boling informed his employees about the meeting and the fact that their work could be outsourced. The employees and residents of housing authority-managed properties showed up in force to highlight Boling’s accomplishments and to express concern over their own futures.

Boling, hired in January, is the former deputy executive director of financing and planning for the Hartford Housing Authority. He declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday evening, saying he planned to fulfill his obligations through the next 30 days and provide consultation during the transition if needed.

Boling helped to lead the authority through a successful application to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that has the residents of the troubled Thames River Apartments prepared to move elsewhere. During a board meeting in September Boling said he had been told "a new dynamic" would come into place after the Thames River residents were transitioned to new housing.

“I came to this authority with the hopes of working with the city to make this a better place for the residents, today, tomorrow, down the road,” he said at that time.

But commissioners are anticipating an estimated $5 million drop in revenues and the loss of about 30 percent of its housing stock once Thames River Apartments is vacated. Gibson said the board must think about the welfare of its remaining residents and explore options, such as a management company, as its budget shrinks.

Mitchell accused fellow commissioners of making politically motivated decisions at the behest of Passero and without the knowledge of other commission members.

“We might as well be bobblehead dolls,” Mitchell said. “This is absolutely ridiculous. (Boling) is a decent person with integrity that will always choose to do the right thing. He just does not play the political game.”

Gibson, who refused to answer Mitchell’s barrage of questions during Tuesday’s meeting, called Mitchell a “bully.”

g.smith@theday.com

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