Feature: The Devil & Carl Greene

Is he a serial sexual harasser and tyrannical boss, as some of his former employees allege? Or is he the most effective public-housing leader in the history of Philadelphia, as he and his defenders contend? Or could Carl Greene, somehow, be both?

 

At this point, three years into his tenure at PHA, Greene had taken complete control of the workforce. He was upgrading technology; he was working various channels to procure wads of funding from the city and state and feds. The old public-housing towers that had plagued Philadelphia forever were coming down, and Greene was beginning to build his modern, low-rise, integrated-into-the-communities housing. The authority was, in fact, becoming a developer itself, which gave Greene more control and opened up avenues for financing. And the Spring Garden project was well into Phase I, with the rehabbing of 30 homes.

Madeline says that on that day in 2001, when she went outside, Greene was waiting with his black Crown Victoria, his driver Tony up front, the car running. The rear door was open. Greene told her to get in. Tony started driving.

“Where are we going?” Madeline asked Greene. She was shaking.

“Don’t worry,” Greene told her. He began asking, nonchalantly, how she had been, how her two young children were. How was her husband doing? He wondered how she felt, making more money than her husband.

Less than a year earlier, Greene had promoted her to work in an office next to his. He demanded that they meet every day, that she check in with him every afternoon. Sometimes Greene wasn’t ready to meet until eight or nine at night. She told him she had to get home to her children. He would wonder what was more important, her family or her career. And Greene always seemed to single her out at company holiday parties. He would burst through a group of people to hug and kiss her. Sometimes he tried to kiss her on the lips. Madeline was nervous being alone with him.

Now they were on 95, heading south — she still didn’t know where they were going. Tony wove through a traffic jam by turning on the Crown Vic’s police lights.

They were headed to Washington. A new HUD secretary had been appointed, and Carl Greene was giving a speech.

In D.C., Madeline was put in the back of a big conference room; Greene sat up front. She slipped out to a bathroom and called her husband to tell him where she was.

“What the hell are you doing there?”

Madeline didn’t have much of an answer. Carl Greene was her boss. She would do what he told her, to a point. She loved working for PHA.

After the speech, Greene paraded Madeline around, introduced her. Then Tony dropped them off at a nice restaurant — Madeline can’t remember the name — where, she says, Greene ordered wine and encouraged her to drink. She sipped it slowly, only half a glass. She told Greene she had to get home. He told her that her husband could take care of the kids.

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