KENNER, LA (WVUE) - Kenner's mayor says an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in the Kenner Housing Authority has now begun.
The allegations have prompted the resignation of a board member and a call for everyone from the FBI to the state attorney general to investigate.
"These are tax dollars, and the public trusts in us that we do the right thing all the time, and we must continue to do that," said Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn.
In a letter to Zahn dated July 5, board member Connie Montgomery resigned, saying actions taken by executive director Marc Starling, board chairperson Faye Matthews, and board attorney Don Richard,'are violations of the housing authority's procurement policy, Louisiana civil service rules, and Louisiana statutes, and by-laws of the authority'.
"We will do this quickly, look at it quickly, I'm pretty sure other agencies will pick us up and help us," said Zahn.
Mayor Zahn is calling on the FBI, the U.S. attorney, the Jefferson district attorney and the city's internal auditor, among others, to investigate allegations outlined in Montgomery's four-page letter, which says, the "Board is so dysfunctional, that it is not capable of dealing seriously with serious violations."
The letter goes on to discuss a canceled construction project, and allegations of "secret dealings with developers" and staff members who would allegedly profit financially from a contract.
"Allegations like that aren't something to look the other way, it was time to put the people in we needed to look at everything and make sure the people in need get what they need to get," said Zahn.
Montgomery said that during a six-month period, many existing contracts were canceled without board authority. She told FOX 8 that she hopes the FBI and Kenner police get to the bottom of things.
Her resignation means that the board currently has just two members, and no longer has a quorum to make decisions vital to a housing agency that serves hundreds.
"With the comments being made, we wanted to make sure we did the right thing before we added new board members to something that might already be in trouble," said Zahn.
The mayor says the city's internal auditor is already working on the investigation, which he hopes concludes rapidly, so that there's no interruption in dealing with city public housing needs.
We reached out to Kenner housing officers, and the board attorney for comments on the allegations, and have not heard back. Mayor Zahn says he wants to determine if the allegations are true before taking steps to fill the three board vacancies, so that the board regains the quorum needed to vote on board matters.