PHA’s Greene facing complaints and a PR nightmare

    Complaints are mounting against Philadelphia Housing Authority Executive Director Carl Greene.  In addition to problems with his personal finances, numerous allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged.

    The series of calamities in Carl Greene’s life began with media reports last week that he was facing foreclosure on a condo he could easily afford with his $300,000 salary – and that he’d recently paid a federal income tax lien for $52,000.

    Greene disappeared from public view, then released a statement saying he’s taking a leave of absence.

    PHA Spokesman Kirk Dorn says Greene wanted to address some of his personal problems.

    “Well, Mr. Greene felt he badly needed an extended leave to get the rest that he needs, and at the moment, he’s looking at maybe three to four weeks,” Dorn says.

    Greene is now up to date on his mortgage payments, but he has bigger problems, including a lawsuit filed earlier this year by PHA employee Elizabeth Helm.  Helm alleges Greene sexually harassed her and threatened retaliation if she refused his advances.  The allegations include “unwanted touching, grabbing, and groping.”  Helm’s lawyer, John Elliot, sent a letter to the five members of the PHA board, accusing Greene of serial predatory sexual misconduct, but he says it got little or no response.

    Accusations of sexual misconduct against Greene date back much further.  They include several lawsuits from former housing authority employees, and one from his days running the Detroit Housing Commission.  Governor Rendell, who was mayor of Philadelphia at the time, brought Greene on despite the Detroit suit, and defends his decision now.

    “The charge in that specific case was serious, as all charges were,” Rendell says. “But I didn’t think it was serious enough for him to warrant dismissal. And again, I don’t want to comment on any additional charges because they’re charges, and I think Mayor Street, who remains as chair of the housing authority board, and the board will take what appropriate action that they deem is in fact appropriate”

    The Detroit case was settled, and Rendell said Greene transformed what used to be one of the nation’s worst housing authorities into, arguably, the best.

    In addition, former lawyers at PHA have alleged in suits that Greene kept legal records hidden from the authority’s general counsel.  Marcia Allen-Phillips claimed in a suit in 2008 that she was informed about so-called “secret cases” involving sexual harassment allegations that went to an outside lawyer.  Allen-Phillips was fired after just four days on the job.

    Dorn says she was dismissed for concealing a past legal problem, which Allen-Phillips said was a minor procedural error that occurred seven years before.

    The PHA board meets next week to consider Greene’s situation.

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