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29 Clearinghouse Rev. 1034 (1995-1996)
Receivership as a Remedy for Poor Agency Performance

handle is hein.journals/clear29 and id is 1066 raw text is: Receivership as a Remedy for Poor
Agency Performance
by Lynn E. Cunningham and Dennis Foley

I. Introduction
Advocates for poor people should
strongly consider asking the courts for
receiverships and the appointment of
special masters to oversee necessary re-
forms in public agencies that are failing
low-income clients.
Injunctive relief, coupled with mo-
tions for contempt and fines, may be
When an agency is simply incapable of
reforming itself within the political context
of a local or state government, receivership
offers several important advantages.

Lynn E. Cunningham, formerly
managing attorney of the Law
Reform Unit at Neighborhood
Legal Services Program in
Washington, D.C., is now of
counsel to the firm of Terris,
Pravlik & Wagner, 1121 12th St.
NW, Washington, DC; (202)
682-2100. Dennis Foley received
his J.D. in 1995 from William &
Mary College of Law.

sufficient to bring relatively well function-
ing public agencies into compliance with
applicable mandates. However, when an
agency is simply incapable of reforming
itself within the political context of a local
or state government, receivership offers
several important advantages.
A. Receivership Severs the Past
Troubled public agencies usually have
a long history of being troubled. Rather

than assigning blame or making minor
modifications to an obviously broken sys-
tem, it is important to distance the unsuc-
cessful past from the hopefully reformist
present and future. [ilt is critical . . . to
sever the relationships between previous
priority setters and the agency in order to
turn around a [public agency].' It is better
to begin anew than have the current,
inept leadership attempt reform.
B. Receivership Can Ensure Appoint-
ment of an Effective Manager
Effective management means knowl-
edgeable as well as unimpeded, long-term
management. In the housing field, leaders
who have reformed troubled agencies rec-
ognize the importance of freedom from
political interference that stifles good man-
agement. [Probably, [of] utmost impor-
tance in any hous~ig authority is to keep
politics and patronage out... Public hous-
ing and the housing field have become too
complex to have people in positions who
don't understand the system and the
wherewithal of goals management.2
These principles apply to other kinds of
public agencies as well.

' Techniques for Revitalizing Severely Distressed Public Housing, Hearing Before the
Subcomm. on Housing and Urban Affairs of the Senate Comm. on Banking, Housing and
Urban Affairs, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. 15 (1993) (statement of James Stockard).
2Id. at 9 (statement of Stephen O'Rourke, Providence, R.I., Housing Authority).

CLEARINGHOUSE REVIEW I MARCH 1996

1034

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