Top Philadelphia Housing Authority board members have been unable to contact executive director Carl R. Greene for an explanation of his tax and foreclosure woes, leaving the board chairman, former Mayor John F. Street, perplexed and wanting answers.
"The big problem with his current situation is that he's not talking," Street said. "He's not saying anything to anybody."
Street, who called Greene's silence "mind-boggling," said Greene had a reputation as a manager who works around the clock.
"Carl has been a 24/7 executive director . . . that's what makes this situation so unusual," he said.
As of early Monday evening, Street said, at least three other board members had also tried to contact Greene, who, since his arrival in 1998, has presided over a major expansion and numerous improvements in the nation's fourth-largest public housing agency.
Kirk Dorn, a spokesman for the PHA, said that Greene had not returned his calls or e-mails but had called the authority Monday to say he would not be in. "My concern at this point is Carl's well-being, that he's OK," Dorn said. "We all want a positive resolution to this."
Dorn said the next PHA board meeting is Aug. 26.
Controversy arose last week, however, after disclosures that his $615,000 condominium townhouse was in foreclosure. Court documents said he stopped making mortgage payments May 1. It was also learned that in December the IRS filed a filed a $52,000 lien against Greene for non-PHA income earned from 2002 to 2006. He paid off the lien in March.
"I've sent him a couple of e-mails to him," Street said yesterday, "and I've had people contact his office and asked people to get in touch with him, and I've not heard from him."
Street praised Greene's work with the PHA, which has built or renovated 7,000 units since his arrival, with 1,000 more under development. "This board supports Carl Greene, and he, by and large, has done a great job transforming the Philadelphia Housing Authority . . . into an agency that really has a passion for serving people."
At the same time, Street said: "We don't want anything to compromise PHA."
"Our hope is that over the next 24 hours we will hear from him, and he will have for us an explanation for all of this."
The city controller, Alan Butkovitz, also voiced support for Greene but added that it was time Greene explained the controversies.
"People want to be fair and had a lot of confidence in Carl Greene. They do believe these are matters are really relevant and need to be answered," he said.
Butkovitz appointed two members to the PHA board: Debra L. Brady, wife of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.), and Patrick J. Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO.
Greene moved into the townhouse condominium in the upscale Naval Square gated community in the city's Schuylkill section in February 2007.
Monday night, an Inquirer reporter was turned away from Greene's home by a guard, who said he called the unit to ask if the reporter could be admitted but received no answer.
The foreclosure action was filed July 27 by Wells Fargo Bank, which said Greene owed $386,749.75, including attorney and late fees.
Greene is one of the highest-paid public officials in the city. His salary is $306,370, and last year he received a $44,188 bonus.
Court records also show the IRS filed a $52,000 lien in December against Greene for income labeled "small business/self employed." The taxes were owed for 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006.
Financial disclosure forms Greene filed with the city for 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006 report no gifts or any outside income from private business. Forms for other years were not on file. He does report an unspecified amount of investment income from mutual fund and brokerage firms.
Greene's tenure has not been without controversy. He is widely known for being a demanding boss willing to discharge employees. He and PHA have faced at least five lawsuits from former employees, including three lawyers and a former public relations officer.
In 2008, he was sued by a lawyer who said she had been fired as PHA's top attorney after five days because she would not "engage in any unethical practices."
New Jersey lawyer Maria Allen Phillips said she came to believe that she was being kept in the dark about "secret cases" involving claims of "sexual harassment and wrongful termination" against Greene.
Ultimately, she did not pursue the court action.
Attempts to reach Greene last week about the lien and the lawsuit were unsuccessful.
Street added that Greene's job was not at risk. "The presumption is that . . . [he] will keep his job, unless and until it is established he had done something pretty grave," Street said.