CAIRO — Jason Ashmore is no longer executive director of the Alexander County Housing Authority. 

Brian Sullivan, a federal spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which took possession of the troubled local agency this past week, told the newspaper on Monday: “We have communicated to Mr. Ashmore in no uncertain terms we thought his selection to be improper, and he is not the executive director of the housing authority.”

Sullivan said the decision was based on HUD’s disapproval of the manner in which Ashmore, the mayor of Sesser, was selected.

He said Ashmore was told nothing precludes him from applying for this or other positions in the future. 

Three former members of the housing authority board had voted to hire him as executive director at a Jan. 19 meeting, but a meeting scheduled for the following week to approve his contract was canceled.

Ashmore has been reporting to work since that time, but has not received pay. He said his salary would have allotted $80,000 in pay, which he said would have been $40,000 less than what former director James Wilson's contract cost.

It’s not clear to the newspaper whether he will receive any pay. Ashmore said HUD officials told him on Monday that he would receive six days pay, though he said he didn't know how much that would equate to since no terms of employment were ever approved. 

Sullivan did not return a call seeking clarification on this question by Monday's deadline. Several Cairo residents protested Ashmore’s hiring because it was not approved by HUD’s fair housing director in Chicago as was required under the terms of a compliance agreement. 

Ashmore and former ACHA Board Chairman Andy Clarke argued that HUD had given its blessing when a different HUD official did a cursory review of applicants and wrote “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” on resumes. 

Ashmore said in a statement issued to the newspaper, "I am extremely disappointed in HUD's decision to wrongfully remove me as executive director. I have and will be consulting with legal counsel concerning this wrongful discharge, the blatant reverse discrimination issues behind the discharge and the other related labor law violations concerning HUD's failure (to) follow basic wage regulations.”

Ashmore said in his statement that HUD doesn't care about Cairo. 

“They didn't care then and don't now,” Ashmore wrote. “This is all about appearances and there is no substance behind HUD's intent or its vision for this community."

molly.parker@thesouthern.com

618-351-5079

On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​

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Molly Parker is general assignment and investigative projects reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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