A decision on the future of Philadelphia Housing Authority executive director Carl R. Greene isn't due for weeks, but board members are hunting for an interim replacement.
That move comes as a three-member team of federal auditors from the Department of Housing and Urban Development begins a lengthy review of PHA's financial and managerial records Wednesday.
Greene, 53, was suspended for 30 days last week after board members said they were never informed of four sexual-harassment complaints filed against him since 2004. Three of the cases were settled with payments by PHA's insurance carrier, and a fourth is in negotiation. The total cost could exceed $900,000.
The hunt for a temporary replacement for Greene suggests his return to the PHA's helm is doubtful.
"We are looking for names of people who could serve as an interim executive director," John F. Street, the PHA board chairman and former mayor, confirmed in an e-mail.
Asked if the search for an interim chief meant Greene is unlikely to return, Street said, "We are not sure, but better to have a pick and not need it than to need it and not have one." Plus, someone must supervise day-to-day activities, Street said.
Greene is currently out of state receiving medical treatment. Board members say they want to give Greene "due process" by conducting their own investigation into his conduct.
But some members, including Street, have expressed deep unhappiness at not being informed of the complaints or settlements. In announcing Greene's suspension following a unanimous vote of the five-member board, Street said Greene would lose his job if even one of the four sexual-harassment complaints was verified.
He also said the board was moving ahead to hire a "consultant" to help investigate the handling of the harassment charges and other elements of PHA management.
"We hope to have some outside consultant help identified soon," he said.
The board's inquiry will be running parallel to investigations by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the HUD audit.
The HUD team has "78 years of auditing experience," said a spokeswoman, Donna White.
"The length of the stay will be decided by the work we find on site," she said. "We don't have a timeline. It's going to be dependent on what they find and what they don't find."
She said the auditors were "working collaboratively with others who may be looking at issues." That includes the federal prosecutors, the FBI, and agents from the HUD Inspector General's Office, the arm of HUD that investigates potential criminal matters.
Also, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission subpoenaed Greene's cell-phone records, all documents related to sexual-harassment complaints, Greene's personnel file, and those of two of the women who filed harassment complaints against him.
The subpoena was issued under the case brought by Elizabeth Helm, 29, a former interior designer. A tentative settlement of $250,000 had been reached, but Monday her attorney said his client had yet to receive settlement papers and now wants $375,000 to settle the matter.
The next PHA board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9, at which the board will "discuss current agency activities and the board's investigation," according to an official board announcement Tuesday.
Along with Street, the other members are City Councilman Jannie L. Blackwell; Pat Eiding, the president of the Philadelphia-area AFL-CIO; Debra Brady, the wife of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady; and Nellie Reynolds, a tenant representative selected by the board.