Former Philadelphia housing chief Greene in trouble again; new agency collapses

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Soon after Philadelphia Housing Authority’s executive director Carl L. Greene was fired in September for failing to disclose a string of sexual harassments claims, he promptly landed on his feet in a newly-formed entity, the Pennsylvania Association of Public Service Agencies. The so-called mission of the agency was to work with other local public service agencies and help them save money through shared resources and ideas.

As quick as you can say PAPSA, the organization is already shutting down, thanks to a combination of the fallout from Greene’s bad publicity, and a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for what it says is federal money misspent by Greene’s former employer, the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Former Philadelphia Housing Authority chief, Carl R. Greene. His newly formed non-profit entity, the Philadelphia Association of Public Service Agencies is falling apart from bad publicity associated with his recent woes at the PHA.

As PAPSA unravels under close scrutiny, critics say that the operation shows how easy it is for government agencies loosely connected through an old-boys network, to funnel taxpayer dollars into non-governmental entities that operate outside the purview of any governmental jurisdiction. In the case of PAPSA, so-called member “dues” were provided by agencies whose officials had conflicting roles in related agencies and firms, instead of directors that were independent to PAPSA.

Besides Greene, PAPSA is headed by three lawyers, two of whom are on the boards of governmental member agencies and earn big legal fees from the PHA.

One of the lawyers, John Estey, a partner at Ballard Spahr and chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority, is PAPSA’s treasurer. At the DRPA, he was one three officials who approved a “dues” payment of $90,000 to PAPSA. Since 2008, Estey has billed PHA over $230,000 for legal work.

Another lawyer, Robert L. Archie, is chairman of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission and a partner at Duane Morris; he acted as PAPSA’s secretary.  The school commission had budgeted $35,000 for its membership in PAPSA although it withheld payment when the agency came under HUD scrutiny. Since 2008, Archie has billed PHA for over $275,000 in legal services.

The third lawyer is Patrick J. O’Connor, board chairman of Temple University, who served as PAPSA’s vice president. Temple did not make a dues contribution.

In addition to the financial commitment by DRPA and the school commission, PHA contributed $50,000 and the Philadelphia Parking Authority paid $25,000, although it’s now asking for its money back.

Besides the bad publicly from Greene’s sex harassment cases, PAPSA’s downfall was hastened by the discovery of $29,207 in legal fees that PHA paid to Estey’s law firm to handle start-up legal work for the agency. Those monies, according to HUD, were illegally paid, specifically violating government regulations. Donna White, a HUD spokeswoman, said that housing officials around the country avoid using federal monies as did PHA, because they all know it is prohibited.

Greene continues to be the center of attention in the government probes. The criminal investigation of PHA by HUD forensic auditors is continuing to determine if other federal monies were misspent while Greene was in charge.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Comment (1)
  1. Leon says:

    Georgia Department of Community Affairs seems to be having issues too but its not new to them they were sued back in 1982 under the Georgia Residential Finance Authority. They now have two lawsuits pending against them in federal court.

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