OUT & ABOUT: Greene And His Evil Twin

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BY DENISE CLAY: If there is one thing I’ve learned during my time in the newspaper business, it’s that you can get away with a multitude of sins if you’re relatively competent and are willing to eschew all pretense of dignity.

I’ve worked with people who have managed to keep their jobs despite telling off their bosses, stealing money, and getting other people to do their work by doing some good, old fashioned, kissing up.

I bring this up because of the recent brouhaha surrounding Carl Greene, executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

I had a friend who had worked for PHA a while back, from whom I used to hear stories about the more-abusive aspects of Greene’s personality. From the beginning, his distinctive personality was hard to ignore.

I heard about the sexual harassment. I heard about the verbal abuse. I heard about the kinds of behavior, behavior that includes forced financing of parties in honor of the boss and other difficulties the Philadelphia Inquirer says the agency has had to pay $900,000 in lawsuit settlements and legal fees over.

But no one had said much in public about Greene’s extracurricular activities, because they were committed while he was turning PHA into one of the best public-housing authorities in the country.

Under Greene’s watch, he had turned troubled high-rise apartment complexes into the kinds of public housing that make you want to quit your job and apply for Section 8.

Senior-citizen complexes that rival any suburban 55-and-over condo developments, townhouses that were so integrated into the city you couldn’t tell who lived where, and places within developments where the development’s entrepreneurs could ply their trades and create businesses in which they could employ their neighbors became the norm in Greene’s PHA.

Heck, even President Barack Obama took notice. He lauded Greene and PHA for taking the economic stimulus money and putting it to work right away.

But here’s the thing. All of that achievement, and it’s a lot, is about to be overshadowed by Greene’s alleged slap-and-tickle shenanigans. When Carl Greene is no longer executive director of PHA, something that will probably be the reality 30 days after the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development finishes investigating how much of the $900,000 in lawsuit settlements and legal fees came out of actual PHA funds, the process that got him fired is going to be what’s remembered, not the housing.

My Mom (ever notice how often I quote her?) says you should be nice to everyone, because the people you meet on the way up are the exact same people you meet on the way down. The only difference is, if you’re nice to folks on the way up, they’re more willing to give you a hand when you’re on the way down.

But in the case of Greene, they’re going to be telling their stories to any reporter who will listen. Heck, even his mentor Alphonso Jackson, former HUD secretary, told the Inquirer how abusive he was to subordinates.

Maybe if Jackson had given that information to then-Mayor Ed Rendell when Greene was hired, we as a city might not be wondering if we can find someone to sustain the work of the Good Carl while we clean up the mess of the Bad Carl.

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One Response to OUT & ABOUT: Greene And His Evil Twin

  1. Carl is a bad guy. Quite frankly, I challenge the notion that he was such a great success. Any deal Carl does is clouded by sleazy shenanigans. Either he’s cheating the people who actually do the work or failing to come through on his promises made to residents. His megalomaniacal sense of ego created a sense of entitlement which will now surly be the end of him. Your mother was right, too bad Carl never learned that from his mom. There will be lots of folks willing to pile on as he crashes. Now he’ll learn something my mom always said, what comes around, goes around. If that’s true, Carl, there’s a lot comin………….

    September 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm

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