In the more than four-decade span of my professional life, I never experienced a work environment comparable to PHA's. I was reminded of Idi Amin's Uganda, minus the bloodshed of course.
The authority's staff, especially those closely associated with the executive office, appeared to be made up less of distinct individuals than of variations on a single ugly personality - brutish, arrogant, and bullying. In some cases, this wasn't their fault; they were merely trying to survive.
Competent managers who dared reveal a streak of humanity in defense of their subordinates were ultimately fired, transferred, or forced to quit. The pervasive psychology of the management was that one must follow orders or face consequences.
PHA employees had no guidance on reporting abuses in the workplace. The agency eliminated much of its human-resources staff years ago. It never gave employees a board-approved manual outlining personnel policies. Only union members had some means of redress - which is why Greene saw fit to dismiss hundreds of them when federal budget cuts came down.
For my part, I had to work on weekends or cart home heavy boxes of paperwork for filing in the absence of sufficient clerical staff. But my grievances are minimal compared with what countless others endured.
I know of one unpublicized case of constant sexual harassment, and I have encouraged the victim to come forward. On occasion, she would return from the executive offices crying and hide behind the desk of a sympathetic coworker until she gathered herself. Or I'd find her crying at her desk, wondering openly when it would all stop.
As the Daily News editorialized, Philadelphia has an abundance of boards packed with political cronies instead of competent professionals. The city's incompetent elites protect their interests through mutual support and bureaucratic opacity. Of that, PHA and its board are the epitome.
Len Trower is a former PHA contract administrator who lives in Overbrook Farms.