KENNER, LA (WVUE) - Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn completely removed all members of the Kenner Housing Authority Board and calls for the immediate resignation of Executive Director Marc Starling.
In a news release, Zahn says he was alarmed to learn Starling's resume shows, "graduate work from a fictitious college called Belford University with no physical location, culminating with his receipt of a Master's Degree in Urban Development, as well as his departure from two previous HUD leadership posts." Kenner officials say Starling also voluntarily vacated a HUD Executive Director position in Rhode Island amid allegations of mismanagement, and he was removed from a similar post in Florida by federal investigators.
Kenner launched an investigation into the Housing Authority Board after a board member, Connie Montgomery, resigned. She sent the mayor a letter dated July 5 claiming actions taken by Starling, Board Chairperson Faye Mathews, and Board Attorney Don Richard had violated the Housing Authority's procurement policy, Louisiana civil service rules and state statutes and bylaws of the authority.
At the time, Zahn called on the FBI, the U.S. Attorney, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney and the city's internal auditor, among others to investigate the allegations made in Montgomery's letter. She wrote the "board is so dysfunctional, that it is not capable of dealing seriously with serious violations."
Zahn said among the reasons for his decision today was Starling's cancellation of a multi-vendor contract without due cause, violations of a clear procurement policy and the questionable credits on his resume.
"Our internal investigation found numerous instances of potential ethical and procedural violations, which at the very least give an overwhelming sense of impropriety at the Kenner Housing Authority," Zahn said. "This will not be tolerated, especially given the mission of this very important organization."
Mayor Zahn said he will replace the board members in the future. In addition, Zahn also said HUD advisors, along with a to-be-determined third-party contractor, should be brought in to train and counsel the incoming board to ensure compliance with all protocols and regulations.
We reached out to Starling for comment, but so far have not been able to reach him.