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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004


Housing authority hires fifth director

Board member named to new job

Express Staff Writer

For the fifth time in seven years, the revolving door at the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority is swinging.

Ending a winter-long dispute about Housing Director Dick Duncan’s off-the-job activities, the housing authority’s board of directors voted Thursday, April 22, to hire long-time housing authority board member Michael David as the agency’s new executive director. Duncan is to be retained as a development consultant.

"It’s a real smooth transition that everybody is happy with, including me," Duncan said.

Michael David, left, was named Thursday as new executive director of the Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority. Express photo by Greg Stahl

Duncan said the housing authority board has been talking about the transition in executive sessions for three or four months. He called the switch a "reconfiguration of duties."

The discussion about Duncan’s work began publicly in February, when a contract employee for the city of Ketchum implied that the director was not fulfilling his duty as an advocate for local affordable housing. Further, in a critical Feb. 4 letter to public officials, the employee contended that Duncan’s moonlighting as a developer in the Carey area was a conflict of interest with his public job.

The housing authority held the first of several executive sessions shortly thereafter. Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon and Blaine County Commission Chairman Dennis Wright attended the first meeting.

"There was some concern that was voiced to elected officials about potential conflicts of interest," Simon said. "The intention is to maintain confidence in the housing authority. We’ve got some very good people working on it. I think everyone’s happy that Michael David is taking over, because he’s been involved, really, from the very beginning."

Simon said he would propose a tighter leash for Ketchum’s share of the housing authority budget during city budget discussions this summer.

"That’s something we need to do to outline what the city expects," he said. "The language will include something to address conflicts of interest and appearance of conflicts of interest."

Duncan acknowledged that his outside work was the catalyst for the transition.

"There was a certain amount of pressure from the political bodies to make sure there wasn’t a conflict of interest," he said. "It’s a legitimate concern."

Duncan said he was given the option to give up his outside interests rather than give up his position, but the development work is the kind of incentive-based business he said he enjoys.

David Kipping, a long-time housing authority board member, painted a positive picture about the transition and the authority’s activities.

"We’re really cranking up on development," he said. "We will be able to pursue more aggressively the developments that are happening."

Kipping said the commission voted last week "to deal with the things we’ve been dealing with lately."

To iron out the transition between directors, David is already working as the interim executive director under Duncan’s tutelage. Duncan will assist his protégé for several months before cutting loose and working as a consultant only.

David has been a commissioner with the housing authority since he was appointed by the Blaine County Commission in the spring of 2002. He has lived in Blaine County since December 1991. From 1998 to 2003, he was the general manager at The Valley Club.

Duncan, who was hired in the winter of 2003, said the housing authority is poised to make a big difference in Blaine County.

"I think it’s in great shape right now," he said. "There are more units in the works right now than are currently existing. Over the next couple of years, if some chips fall the right way, we could increase the affordable housing by 100 to 200 units, and that’s what I continue to want to be involved with."


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