Atlanta Housing Authority board to meet Wednesday; leadership is still in limbo

By Maria Saporta

When the Atlanta Housing Authority board meets on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., it will be the first time in nearly three months.

This is the same board that placed restrictions on Renee Glover, AHA’s president and CEO, last fall.

The board said she could not hire or fire any employees. It also stipulated that she could not enter into any contracts worth more than $10,000 without board approval.

At the time, former AHA Chairman Cecil Phillips objected, saying that it was putting the board in an “untenable, impossible position of having to micro-manage” AHA’s operations. Phillips also said that such a stipulation could lead to all-day board meetings.

But since the board has not been meeting, the question is how is the AHA able to function with its day-to-day operations under the current circumstances.

That’s not all.

The board meeting on Wednesday will be the first since the news broke that there was an investigation underway of two of AHA’s board members on whether they made hostile and offensive comments to agency employees late last year, according to a report that a law firm sent to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in December.

According to the report, AHA could be held liable for violations of federal and state law over comments made by board members James Allen Jr. and Wayne Jones that may have been racially derogatory and sexually inappropriate. Both of those board members were appointed by Reed and were part of the mayor’s move to control the housing authority.

No action has been taken on either of those board members.

Meanwhile, Glover continues to work as AHA’s director despite a well-publicized estrangement between Glover and the mayor and his new board members. Reed had said he was upset that Glover’s contract had been renewed in July 2010. Negotiations for Glover’s exit began, but then they stopped rather abruptly.

Asked whether the negotiations had resumed, AHA spokesman Rick White said: “There is no change in status.”

One reason the AHA board may have backed down is because the authority would have had to pay a significant settlement (at least $1 million) to Glover to leave before the end of her contract unless there had been “due cause” for her to be ousted.

But AHA received a “clean audit” for its past fiscal year in a report that was released in December.

The Audited Financial Statement said: “As a result of innovative strategies and effective management and stewardship, AHA continues to maintain significant restricted cash reserves. In spite of the recent economic downturn, AHA retains approximately $100 million in cash balances. These cash balances are restricted and may only be used for affordable housing purposes consistent with AHA’s HUD-approved business plans.”

Glover’s tenuous relationship with her board and the mayor, however, has not impacted her local or national reputation.

The Washington D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center named Glover as one of 17 business and civic leaders to serve on its Housing Commission along with other national experts.

In January, Glover was re-elected to another three-year term on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. And just this month, she was elected vice chair of the Habitat for Humanity International board.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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