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?


When I ask Greene about Blackwell Homes, he launches into an explanation of planning and applications for funding from the city, state and federal government, and dealing with myriad political players, and “You’ve got to deal with the planning commission, deal with the water department, streets department, Licenses and Inspections, gotta deal with the Redevelopment Authority if you’re using land they own …. ”

Listening to this — which is just the tip of the iceberg — I have two reactions. One is how amazingly complicated these projects are. The other is how Greene clearly slipped into the fray of rebuilding public housing as if entering a warm bath. It’s where he lives — or lived. It was his life and his lifeline. And he was still pushing, at Blackwell Homes — pitching schools head Arlene Ackerman on building a community center and a dorm near a high school where disadvantaged kids might live — until his world fell apart.

don’t reside as two separate parts of Carl Greene. While it’s tempting to divide him in two, the driven housing czar who’s a mess of a person, it’s really the case that Greene, like the rest of us, is a jumble of his best and worst.

I heard a story about Greene losing control a few years back, when he brought in consultants to teach senior staff how to constructively criticize each other. The consultants had each of the 25 or so people in the conference room write his name on a piece of paper. The papers were put into a hat. An employee would draw a name, go up to that person, and deliver a critique of his workplace performance.

The lawyer who drew Carl Greene’s name told him that he was a great, inspirational leader, but that it would be nice if he could be a little … a little less demanding. A little more sensitive and understanding of others. And that she wished he wouldn’t yell so much.

 Greene accepted this with equanimity. Or seemed to. But after a lunch break, he dismissed the consultants early and commandeered the microphone. He spoke for an hour and a half, his annoyance escalating into rage. He yelled and ranted, spit flying from his mouth, as he lashed into the lawyer for attacking him. “A good organization doesn’t have people criticizing each other …. What do you mean, I yell too much? Where does that come from? Who said I yell too much?”

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  • 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.