Greene sues PHA board over his suspension as PHA director; Street sees it as ploy to retain pay

John Street at a news conference yesterday at which he derided Greene's lawsuit against PHA board.
John Street at a news conference yesterday at which he derided Greene's lawsuit against PHA board.
Posted: September 09, 2010

The nerve of Carl R. Greene.

First, the executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority allegedly sexually harassed at least four - and possibly as many as eight - female staffers.

Next, he secretly settled three of the cases for hundreds of thousands of dollars, orchestrating "a full-blown coverup."

Then, he went underground, checking himself into an out-of-state medical-treatment facility and making himself unavailable to answer any questions.

Now, he says he has "suffered harm," and filed a civil lawsuit against PHA's Board of Commissioners, saying that board members embarrassed and humiliated him and destroyed the good name of a "shrewd and capable leader."

On top of that, Greene wants a payday.

Those were the sentiments expressed yesterday by John Street, PHA board chairman and former mayor, after he reviewed Greene's lawsuit.

"I have checked and determined that the only sexual harassment allegations against an employee of PHA in the last 10 years have been against its executive director, Carl Greene," Street said. "And there are other women who, after years of holding this stuff in, are saying, 'This happened to me,' and he sues us because he wants two years' pay? That might be one for the books."

At a news conference yesterday, Street said he believed that Greene's suit was a legal maneuver for him to collect two years' salary. Under Greene's employment contract, the board can fire Greene only if it can prove that his conduct caused "material injury and damage to PHA." If not, the board would have to honor his five-year contract, which is up in March 2012. Greene last year earned $306,370, plus a $44,188 bonus.

"It's all about the money," Street said. "I don't think it's about keeping his job. I think it's about walking out of here with a little bit of money."

In his harshest words yet against Greene, Street, once an ardent supporter, said that Greene appears to have "engaged in a full-blown coverup of the sexual allegation complaints . . . over a period of years."

Street said that not telling the board about the settlements not only violated board policy but could constitute fraud.

"I feel betrayed by Carl Greene because we gave him every support that any executive director would want and need in order to be able to take an entity like this and run it and turn it around," Street said.

"We put our trust and our confidence in him because he was delivering for us, and he was betraying that confidence."

Street said that PHA will have to pay a lawyer to fight Greene's lawsuit. The board, however, could sue Greene to recoup those expenses if it believes that the suit was filed in "bad faith," Street said.

The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday by Greene's attorney, Clifford E. Haines, claims that the board breached Greene's employment contract when it voted last month to put him on paid administrative leave without giving him a chance to defend himself.

The suit seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages.

In the meantime, Street said that four other women have come forward to say that they were victimized by Greene or witnessed him behaving inappropriately toward women. Street said that he has already spoken to three of the four women.

"If a woman wants to come forward and talk about this, then I would be very supportive," Street said. "In fact, I would encourage any woman who was involved in any of this to come forward."

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