Street Sees Money Grab in Lawsuit Against PHA
KYW Newsradio Team Coverage —
The latest twist in the ongoing saga of embattled Philadelphia Housing Authority director Carl Greene comes in a federal lawsuit filed by Greene against the PHA board — a lawsuit the head of the PHA board says is just a grab for money.
Greene’s attorney says they want a court, not the PHA board, to judge the sexual misconduct allegations against Greene.
KYW’s Mike Dunn reports that according to Greene’s attorney, Clifford Haines, the PHA board’s own investigation of sexual harassment allegations is unlikely to be a fair venue for his client.
So, Haines says, Greene has filed suit against the board so that the whole matter is hashed out before a judge:
“No one has set a formal structure, nor provided a process that involves Mr. Greene, in a safe and appropriate environment, where there is an independent investigation. And so we believe that a courtroom is where this had to go.”
The PHA has suspended Greene indefinitely, with full pay, as they mount their own investigation — a probe that is expected to be completed this month.
Former mayor John Street, chairman of the PHA Board, has said that the PHA probe will be impartial. But he vowed that even if one sexual harassment complaint is true, Greene will be terminated.
KYW’s Mike DeNardo reports that John Street, who met with reporters late this morning, thinks the Carl Greene lawsuit is all about money.
PHA board chair John Street (above) says he believes that Carl Greene and his attorney concluded that Greene had no future at PHA so Greene may as well try to get some money:
“I think this is all about two years of salary. And I think as soon as the dust settles a little bit, he’s going to want to enter into negotiations to try to get a couple years of salary and then ride on into the sunset. That’s what this is about.”
Street says the board put Greene on indefinite paid leave knowing the Greene’s contract limited the board’s rights to fire him.
And Street says he believes Carl Greene made a special effort to hide the string of sexual harassment settlements from the board:
“It looks to me, preliminarily, like he engaged in a full-blown coverup of the sexual allegation complaints — the harassment complaints and the settlements. That’s what it appears that he, he and other people, really went out of their way to cover up.”
Street says the board is still investigating whether it can fire Greene for cause. But he says he believes Greene’s return to PHA is “less probable every minute.”
KYW’s Paul Kurtz reports that the PHA board says it is investigating a series of sexual harassment settlements totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars — plus at least one other complaint that remains unsettled — and whether those allegations and subsequent settlements were kept secret from the board for years.
Women who worked for Greene said he groped them, demanded sexual favors for promotions, and retaliated if they refused him.
Greene continues to collect his $306,000 annual salary while he is on leave. On the job 12 years, he earned $350,000 last year (including a $44,000 bonus) running the nation’s fourth largest housing agency.
Haines says PHA is obligated to pay him or restore his job.
“A court of law is the only place I know of where allegations of the kind alluded to here can be proven — and I’m not talking about delinquent taxes or mortgage payments,” lawyer Haines said Tuesday in a statement. “Those facts are a given and have no bearing on what Carl Greene did or didn’t do at PHA.”
An attorney representing one of the women in a sexual harassment claim against Greene is outraged, saying it took a lot of chutzpah for Greene to file the suit and he can’t wait to get Greene on the witness stand under oath.
Greene has also faced a $50,000 IRS tax lien on outside work and a foreclosure proceedings on his $615,000 townhouse this year. Both debts have since been repaid.
Greene, 53, has been in an out-of-state medical facility for several weeks to be treated for undisclosed problems, according to Haines.
Greene, in an August 23rd letter to the board, said he expected to resume his duties on September 13th.
But the five board members, led by Street, voted unanimously on August 26th to put him on indefinite leave while they investigate their allegation that the sexual harassment complaints — and payments — were kept secret. The board is supposed to approve any payments over $100,000.
“If and/or when we establish the conspiracy to withhold this information from the board, we must then decide if this action violates the contract. If it does we must then decide if it — and all the other circumstances surrounding Mr. Greene — warrant his being terminated for cause,” Street said in a recent e-mail.
Street had long praised Greene as one of the country’s best housing executives, and initially reserved judgment on the financial woes. But after the harassment complaints surfaced, his support ended.
“He could have built a billion houses, but if he sexually harassed one woman on the staff, he’s gone.” Street bellowed to reporters at the August 26th meeting.
“Even Street acknowledged that Greene was operating the finest housing authority in America when all of these putative allegations of wrongdoing were supposed to be going on,” Haines said in the statement Tuesday. “That signals loud and clear that whatever Street or others claim Carl did has had absolutely no impact on the operation of PHA.”
Current mayor Michael Nutter has questioned the board’s oversight of Greene, putting Street, his predecessor, on the defensive.