THE NINE NOMINEES selected by Mayor Nutter to serve on the Philadelphia Housing Authority board came before City Council on Wednesday to answer questions regarding their plans to help move the troubled agency forward.
But one nominee - Joan Markman, the city's chief integrity officer and former prosecutor for both the U.S. Attorney's Office and the District Attorney's Office - caused some Council members to balk.
"She has all of this federal background, but none relates to tenants, housing, PHA," said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. "Nothing that would indicate that she would do anything other than look at a whole lot of federal papers and check every contract. People want to feel that there's somebody interested in moving PHA forward, not just check records."
Markman, who has prosecuted fraud and other white-collar federal crimes, said at the hearing that she wants to help get PHA back on its feet and that her experience could help.
"I think it's important that if there are problems within PHA that [PHA] could fix them so that there is no need for agencies outside of PHA to distract PHA from its core mission," Markman said.
She had to leave the hearing early and Council President Darrell Clarke asked her to meet with Council at another date. It's not clear if that meeting will be public. Clarke would not reveal his position on her nomination.
Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said Markman "will be a critically important board asset."
Council gave preliminary approval to the list of nominees and can give the final OK Jan. 24, its first session in the New Year. But if Council fails to take action within 60 days of the mayor's submission, under state law he can appoint the person to be a member of the authority.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took over PHA in 2011 and got rid of the former board after then-Executive Director Carl Greene was fired following sexual-harassment allegations. Nutter sought to regain local control of PHA, and state law now allows the mayor to select a nine-member board with Council approval.
The other nominees are Lynette Brown-Sow, vice president of marketing and communications for Community College of Philadelphia; Nelson Diaz, a former city solicitor, Common Pleas judge and general counsel for HUD; Kenneth Murphy, partner at the law firm Drinker Biddle; Herbert Wetzel, former executive director of the Redevelopment Authority who serves as Council's housing expert; Rev. Dr. Leslie Callahan, pastor of St. Paul's Baptist Church in North Philadelphia; Rev. Bonnie Camarda, director of partnerships for the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia, and PHA tenants Shellie Jackson and Vernell Tate.