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PHA staff told to return $800 Tumi bags

The Philadelphia Housing Authority's interim director has ordered PHA managers to return expensive name-brand carry-on luggage purchased from Nordstrom and given to them as gifts in 2009 by then-executive director Carl R. Greene.

"Please understand that I am not criticizing you for accepting this item, but I do want to make a statement that the gift was not an appropriate expenditure of PHA funds," Michael P. Kelly wrote staff in an email Tuesday night. "Whatever money we may get for the bags will go back into the agency's general fund."

It's unclear just what the agency will do with the Tumi carry-on duffels, which cost PHA $796 apiece, once - and if - they are returned. Now more than a year old, about 20 bags had been distributed during an annual strategic planning conference, as the Daily News reported last week.

Kelly asked that the bags be returned by noon tomorrow. Any managers wanting to keep them will be given an opportunity to purchase them, for a "depreciated" price.

Kelly is also seeking to prevent any such situation from occurring again. "Effective immediately, PHA employees may not accept gifts of any value connected to their job," he said.

1:54 p.m. update: PHA spokeswoman Nichole Tillman said the agency plans to return the bags to Nordstrom, which will then evaluate whether they can accept them.

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