Different rules for getting a job at the PHA

Posted: June 22, 2012

DEANS, FACULTY, STAFF, parents and graduates: It is my honor to address the 666th graduating class of the School of Hard Knocks.

Graduates, you have labored hard to achieve your dream. The sheepskin (kind of awful, when you think about it) proves you have survived four years of rigorous academic challenges and intense games of beer pong to earn your degree, which you have been told is the key to employment and a bright future.

That's the story you have heard, and for some of you it will be true, but not for all — not as long as the Philadelphia Housing Authority is hiring.

Let me tell you about one person who achieved success despite personal obstacles.

Her name is Audrey Lim and she is from Singapore. She did the right things to prepare herself for success. She earned a master's degree in occupational therapy, a master's in government administration and then a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology (whatever that means). Like you, she worked hard. Unlike you, perhaps, she met her future boss — PHA Executive Director Carl Greene — in a bar, according to PHA sources. Where better to discuss Community Development Block Grants?

Before you could say, "Fill it again, Joe," she was hired as a "senior adviser" for $95,000.

See that, kids? You don't need to pound on doors or fire off resumes on the Internet. If you are shapely and well-spoken, just sip a Singapore Sling in a bar and let the PHA job offers come to you.

This isn't exclusive to the PHA. Younger and prettier and thinner Americans get paid more, it has been shown many times. Instead of a postgraduate degree, I'd suggest you grads invest in cosmetic surgery or a stomach bypass.

This is not to denigrate Dr. Lim, who resigned last month, reportedly to return to Singapore to minister to a sick relative.

Greene hired her — no information about how much senior advice she gave him — and when he was sent packing for sexual improprieties, reform PHA Executive Director Michael Kelly hiked her salary to $125,000 and put her in charge of PHA's human resources, which is what she became. Nine months later they were doing the housing hoochie koochie. I don't have to say allegedly because the married Kelly admitted the affair.

So, grads, PHA — the Philadelphia Horndog Authority, which thinks Section 8 is a sexual position and oversight comes under the covers — is hiring.

The point, grads, is that education is important, but sometimes you have to bend over backward.

There's nothing very unusual about this affair. It happens all the time.

In one survey of 1,000 professionals, 47 percent admitted they had an office romance, while another 19 percent — one in five — said they'd be willing if the opportunity arose. There's the American competitive spirit! As business philosopher Larry the Cable Guy always advises, "Git 'er done!"

Like I was saying, there's nothing new about workplace affairs, and usually it's no one's business (except Dan Gross'), but when the fling is flung between a supervisor and someone lower on the company totem pole, that can be a problem.

Ask John Edwards.

You grads are too young to remember the next one, which is my favorite, but your parents might.

In our proud Bicentennial year it was revealed that U.S. Rep Wayne Hays, D-Ohio, for two years had employed blondiful Elizabeth Ray as a clerk-secretary on a committee he ran. When the expose broke, Ray was famously quoted as saying, "I can't type; I can't file; I can't even answer the phone."

See, grads, you don't really have to know anything to get a job in government.

But you probably knew that without hearing it from me. n

Email stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. Join Stu on Facebook. For recent columns: philly.com/Byko.

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