Mayor Wants Answers On Castro Firing

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Rochester, N.Y. (WROC) - Mayor Lovely Warren is demanding answers about last week's firing of the Rochester Housing Authority Executive Director Alex Castro. He was replaced 24 hours later by City Councilman Adam McFadden. 

Warren sent a letter Tuesday morning to the RHA board. She replaced five of the seven members this year. Now she is holding them to task.

"I expect to hear back from you today with the reasons why Mr. Castro as let go, otherwise I will have no choice but to further look into the actions of the board, and publicly call for your resignations," the mayor wrote.

Warren also called for a search for a new director. McFadden's appointment is for three months. 

Last week, Warren told News 8 she had nothing to do with the shakeup, but respected the board's decision.

RHA board chairman George Moses and board member John Page held a news conference Tuesday morning. They had not seen the mayor's letter.

Moses read a brief statement saying the new board had concerns about "questionable business practices" at RHA. He said Castro would not work with the new board to fix these issues, resulting in his termination. Asked repeatedly for more specifics, Moses would not elaborate. 

"We did our due diligence, but we have to be very careful, because of possible litigation, to talk about employee matters," said Moses.

Two lawyers were present at the press conference to advise the RHA on employment matters. They said they expected litigation to arise out of Castro's firing.

Indeed, Castro has hired an attorney. Castro spoke to News 8 briefly outside of his home Tuesday. "Haven't they done enough to me and my family with their bullying? I am looking forward to moving ahead with my life."

"The authority has not complied with his employment contract and we'll be talking about getting him back to work," said Jules Smith, Castro's attorney.

Moses would not say if Castro is still on the payroll or received a severance package. He would also not reveal McFadden's salary. News 8 has filed an open records request for this information.

Another team of lawyers, which included a cousin of McFadden's, was present. This team will begin a forensic audit of RHA. "We have concerns," said Moses.

The attorneys said they believe McFadden's appointment will not run afoul of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's conflict of interest rules. HUD is reviewing the appointment.

The removal of Castro and hiring of McFadden had been rumored for weeks in political circles. When it came about last week, residents at Seneca Manor complained, saying they were pleased with Castro's responsiveness to problems. A former board member called the appointment political. City Councilwoman Jackie Ortiz called for an ethics investigation.

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