At the MaineHousing board meeting this morning, the board began the meeting by going into an executive session at the start of the meeting and when they came out, they unanimously voted to accept the resignation of Director Dale McCormick.
The official announcement wasn’t made until the very end of the board meeting, with the earlier vote confirming a “personnel decision.”
The resignation of McCormick comes after months of scrutiny into MaineHousing spending practices and the cost of affordable housing projects.
“The board and I have concluded that it is best to reach an agreement on an early end to my term,” McCormick said. “MaineHousing has a number of commissioners with different policy perspectives. These differences have led to substantial disagreement about how MaineHousing can best serve the interests of its clients and the people of Maine. In order to bring an end to the current rancor, the Board and I have concluded that it is in the best interets of the housing authority and the people of Maine to reach and agreement on an early end to my term.”
The “different policy perspectives” she referenced likely include the issue of the cost of affordable housing units and spending practices by the agency including millions in travel and training, $1,000 bonuses, gift cards and massages given out at “all-staff” days at MaineHousing.
McCormick’s term, which was set to go through 2014, was cut short by her resignation, which included a severance package that included a year of pay and a year and a half of health coverage. The “Separation Agreement and Release” stipulates that McCormick will receive “severance equal to one year of her most recent salary…MaineHousing shall pay McCormick’s COBRA medical premiums for her and her dependents…to remain in effect until the earlier of September 20, 2013 or when McCormick receives comparable medical insurance coverage for her and dependents from another employer.”
McCormick was paid $101,520 in base salary in 2010 (most recent data available) and received an additional $33,441 in total benefits.
McCormick said in an article in the Sun Journal just nine days ago that, “she didn’t intend to go anywhere” and “I have children; they need healthcare.” However, it appears that even as she made those statements, she may have been brokering a deal to bring her term as MaineHousing director to an end.
The recent committee support of LD 1778, a bill that would give the board of commissioners at MaineHousing more control over leadership at the agency, put added pressure on McCormick, who was clearly at odds with the commissioners over several issues at the agency. That dynamic was particularly apparent in the board meeting today, when McCormick sparred with board chair Peter Anastos over the so-called “Carbon Offset Program,” with the heated discussion coming after McCormick had resigned, but before it was publicly announced that she would step down.
Longtime communications chief and de-facto lobbyist Peter Merrill will take over as director on a temporary basis until a new director is appointed.