Diaz forced to resign from PHA board

Nelson A. Diaz cited a U.S. ruling on law firm.
Nelson A. Diaz cited a U.S. ruling on law firm.
Posted: February 26, 2014

Philadelphia Housing Authority board member Nelson A. Diaz is resigning, citing a federal decision that he cannot serve unless his law firm stops doing PHA legal work.

In a letter to City Council President Darrell Clark, Diaz said he would leave the nine-member board April 1. He said he was being forced off by an unnamed person who complained to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about Dilworth, Paxton, Diaz's law firm, having contracts with PHA.

"Someone wants me off the board by seeking an excuse from HUD," Diaz said in the two-page letter, "and, trying not to embarrass anyone, I will resign."

Diaz, who is Puerto Rican, dedicated much of the letter to his background in public housing and his pro bono legal work. He also e-mailed the letter to leaders of several city Puerto Rican organizations.

Diaz, a retired Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge and former city solicitor, also had served as a general counsel to HUD. He currently is a board member of Peco's parent company, Corp., of Chicago.

HUD records show that in May, shortly before Diaz was appointed to the PHA board, PHA president Kelvin A. Jeremiah requested a HUD waiver of Diaz's potential conflict of interest because of his Dilworth job.

In its Jan. 28 response, HUD said either Diaz must leave the board or his firm's contract "must be terminated immediately."

The January letter, from Dennis G. Bellingtier of the Office of Public Housing, said HUD could not waive the rules to allow Diaz to continue his dual roles. Bellingtier said the regulations were needed "to enable a public housing agency to provide a fair, transparent selection process when seeking, awarding, or administering contracts."

Neither Diaz nor PHA's Jeremiah could be reached for comment.


mfazlollah@phillynews.com

215-854-5831

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