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?


Finally, they drove back to Philadelphia and Tony dropped her off where her car was parked. Greene got out too. At her car, he wouldn’t let her close her door. He bent down, his face near hers, waiting — he seemed angry. Finally he kissed her on the cheek, and Madeline pushed him away and got out of there.

Greene demoted Madeline to a dangerous PHA outpost — 4th and Huntingdon. She says he threatened to fire her. But she didn’t quit.

MADELINE RODRIGUEZ never filed any charges against Carl Greene, who, through his attorney, denies what she alleges — denies any unwanted advances, denies demoting or threatening to fire her. But if her story is true, there is no turning back from behaving that badly. It colors, and controls, everything.

The shame of that is, the harder you look, the greater the loss of Greene seems for the city. One day in December, I take a drive around Spring Garden with Pat Freeland, head of the neighborhood’s civic association and a big believer in Greene. She plays a game with me on the 1900 block of Wallace, where we idle past elegant 1890s-era rowhouses: Can I figure out which houses are owned by PHA?

It’s immediately apparent: The PHA houses are the nicest ones, with redone Victorian fronts, repointed brickwork, original-looking window treatments.

Freeland and I visit Minnie, an African-American woman of a certain age, on Mt. Vernon. Minnie was one of the beneficiaries of the renovations here that Greene took on when he first came to Philadelphia. She used to live up the street, in another PHA property. Her redone living room is fresh and white and homey, filled with pictures of family. “This block was rough,” Minnie tells us. “Drug dealers. Shootings. Bullets flying past. It’s safe now. It’s a blessing to feel safe.”

Imagine: public housing helping usher the drug dealers somewhere else.

It’s the same story deep in West Philly, at the Lucien Blackwell Homes, between Brown and Fairmount. Greene took a classically awful public housing project — three ’50s-era high-rises with a central courtyard, largely abandoned — and built 627 units, an oasis in an otherwise blighted area. One Saturday in December, I stop a mailman there and ask about drugs in the projects. He thinks for a moment, then cites one corner of PHA housing, on 46th, as having some action, “but for the most part, it’s not bad around here. It’s definitely safer because of Blackwell Homes.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10< Previous Next >View as One Page

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • KJ

    I’m sorry, but Carl Greene gets no sympathy here! As a former Executive at PHA, I witness his abusive behavior towards too many employees up front and personally–The reprisals, dismissals, the tirades (particularly after his night out drinking),the unwanted solicitations, and vindictive behavior that he exhibited was very real for both male and female employees; Carl Greene fostered a culture of fear at PHA, period! The whisking off, or abduction (yes, I said abduction) of that Assist General Manager was indicative of how Carl Green ran a psycho-ops and his intent to induced compliance to even his personal pleasures; There are countless other women who experienced Carl’s psychotic behavior. I was particularly perturbed by his menacing treatment of anyone he perceived as standing in the way of his desires, his exploits! And, exploit he did…whether married or single, Carl would let no man, nothing, stand in his way! So, what do you know…the Real Carl, a tyrant, sexual predator, manipulator and Ego maniac, finally got in his own way! This man has a very dark and troubling side; I only wish that he had been stopped sooner and sought treatment–like before he came to Philadelphia! Rendell, Street, the…

  • Donna

    There is a very simple explanation for the riddle of Carl Green. He is a sociopath. Hollywood tells us that a sociopath is a serial killer. The truth is, most sociopaths never kill anyone. And one expert says that 1% of the general population are sociopaths, but 3% of corporate executives are sociopaths.

    A sociopath is a person with no heart, no conscience and no remorse. Green exhibits classic signs of this personality disorder: Egocentricity and grandiosity. Rage when challenged. Manipulation. Sexual aggression. Belief that the rules do not apply to him. Financial problems. Blaming others for anything that goes wrong. Sociopaths in business frequently bring organizations down. That’s what Green has done.

    I have written extensively about this case in the Lovefraud Blog. People need to be aware of this personality disorder – especially when they’re considering a candidate for a position of power and responsibility.

  • Betty

    Come drive around Southwest Center City and you’ll have no problem picking out the PHA houses. They’re the ones in disrepair housing drug dealers and dealers. No sympathy for Greene at all. He sat in his gated community at Naval Square while inflicting pestilence on the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Betty

    Come drive around Southwest Center City and you’ll have no problem picking out the PHA houses. They’re the ones in disrepair housing drug dealers and dealers. No sympathy for Greene at all. He sat in his gated community at Naval Square while inflicting pestilence on the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Norm

    Unfortunately Carl Green suffers from the same problem that many great leaders suffer from. Absolute power. Carl Green proved himself to be an effective leader in turning around the housing authority. This was such a monumental task that he became a trusted leader who was beyond question. It was at this point when the traits of many great leaders emerged. These traits are sociopathy and narcissism. The same internal drivers that are responsible for his great abilities are also at the root of his downfall. The old saying still rings true, “Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!” All public leaders need to learn from this and make certain that there are checks, balances and transparancy in all business practices.