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Tulalip council recommends firing official
December 9, 1996
Board members of the Tulalip Housing Authority will meet later this week to make a final decision on whether to fire the agency's contracting officer for using federal low-income money to build an estate-sized home for himself and his family.
The board will consider a recommendation by the tribe's general council to fire contracting officer Mike Alva, whose wife, Patti Gobin, is the housing authority's executive director. In an emotional meeting this weekend, the council voted 95-41 to fire Alva but took no action against Gobin.
The vote came after a contentious debate about a Seattle Times report last week that detailed how Alva and Gobin built a 5,296-square-foot home using part of a $2.5 million federal low-income housing grant.
"All the general council can do is suggest, they can't hire or fire," said John McCoy, the tribe's executive director of governmental affairs. He said the housing board has the final say on all matters involving the housing authority.
Neither Alva nor Gobin could be reached for comment.
The couple, along with tribal Chairman Stan Jones Sr. and the entire housing board, are in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week to discuss new federal Indian housing regulations. Indian housing leaders from across the nation are attending.
But while Alva's future with the Tribe is uncertain, tribal leaders have already decided to review housing-authority controls and make changes based on findings by The Times.
"Because of your articles, there will be more active oversight of the housing-authority commission," McCoy said. "This is already decided."
Housing-authority officials have assailed the Times articles as unfairly highlighting the home, which is three times the size of the average American home.
In a prepared statement, tribal officials said Alva and Gobin needed the space because they plan to house an extended family.
The couple paid the housing authority $214,000 for the home under an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which raised questions earlier this year about the appropriateness of building such a large home in a subsidized housing program.
HUD's Inspector General's Office is completing an audit to determine the full cost of the home to the housing authority.
The Alva-Gobin house was by far the largest of 18 homes built with the $2.5 million HUD grant.
That particular Indian-housing program, called Mutual Help, is aimed at low-income households. Alva and Gobin have a combined annual income of $92,000.
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