Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New director tapped for embattled Pasco Housing Authority

DADE CITY — Seeking to stabilize an agency beset by poor management, officials on Tuesday selected a well-regarded former county housing official to return home and lead the Pasco County Housing Authority.

Dianne Morris, 61, is currently the housing and development director for Danville, Va. But before moving north, she spent 10 years as the first director of Pasco's Community Development department.

"Dianne is familiar with Pasco County, she's familiar with working with the political leaders of Pasco County," said David Lambert, chairman of the board that oversees the housing authority. "She's somebody we felt that we could trust to turn this organization around."

Morris applied for the position in September, shortly after former director Karen Turner resigned. Besides allegations of mismanagement, a whistle-blower lawsuit by a former employee accused Turner of creating a hostile work environment by having sex during work hours with another employee who has since left the agency.

Since then, Gov. Rick Scott replaced the entire governing board for the $15.1 million agency. Last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a critical report of the housing authority.

"There's a lot of hard work that needs to be done," Morris said. "My first goal is to address the management issues and make sure I tour each of the sites to hear about the problems going on at each of the sites."

In her current position, Morris manages several federal housing programs in Danville, on the Virginia-North Carolina border. Back in 1992, she helped create a similar department for Pasco, starting from scratch with a skeleton crew.

"Knowing Pasco County is half the battle," said George Romagnoli, who took over Morris' job as community development director in 2002. "Knowing HUD stuff is the other half. She's a really good fit."

Romagnoli praised Morris' management style, saying she is willing to work closely with staffers.

"She would never say, 'No, I'm the manager and I'm not going to do that,' " he said. "She jumped in with both feet and really helped out."

He said Morris would help foster a close connection on low-income housing issues between the housing authority and the county. "She knows who to talk to in order to get things done," he said.

Lambert said officials have made progress on the vast majority of recommendations in the HUD report, including lowering the vacancy rate in public housing units and instituting tighter financial controls. The report also said hiring a permanent director is "key to the recovery" of the agency.

Morris, who still has to sell her home in Virginia and find a place to live in Pasco, said she hopes to begin work within two months.

Once she starts the job, Morris and new governing board members plan to attend management training sponsored by HUD.

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

>>In other news ...

More local control

County commissioners would have more control over the panel that oversees the Pasco County Housing Authority under legislation approved Monday.

The bill, which now heads to Gov. Rick Scott, gives commissioners the power to appoint members to the housing authority's five-person governing board. Currently the governor's office appoints those members.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, sponsored the bill after a whistle-blower lawsuit surfaced last fall highlighting several management problems at the agency.

Though Scott replaced each member of the board after that scandal, Fasano said local officials are better suited to respond to any future problems at the agency. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate.

New director tapped for embattled Pasco Housing Authority 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.