McFadden Refuses to Resign

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Rochester's mayor has asked Rochester Housing Authority Interim Director Adam McFadden to resign, but he refused.

"This lack of transparency in the process involved in hiring the interim director has resulted in my asking him now to resign as interim director and not seek the permanent appointment because the board has work that it needs to do on behalf of the residents of RHA," Mayor Lovely Warren said in a statement. "I explained to my friend and political ally that his hasty appointment damaged the integrity of the process, created unnecessary racial tension, and put the needs of the 22,000 residents of the Authority on the back burner."

"Because I do believe I can make an important difference, I respectfully disagree with the Mayor’s suggestion and opinion that I should step down from my three month post. I desire to continue in the capacity as interim executive director because we must bring reform and stability to the Housing Authority while the board creates its process for a permanent executive director," McFadden said in a statement. He later sent a revised statement saying he would not resign, but would also not seek out the permanent job.

Earlier today, the mayor was cagey when asked whether she asked McFadden and RHA Board Chairman George Moses to resign. Sources said she had been considering such a move. News 8 waited for the mayor to leave an event.

News 8:  Have you or will you asked Adam McFadden and George Moses to resign their positions with RHA? 

Mayor: I've spoken with both Adam McFadden and George Moses and I've talked to them, so the decision right now is in their hands and should be letting people know. 

News 8: So you have asked them to resign? 

Mayor: I've spoken with them, yes.

News 8: Do you think Alex Castro should get his job back? 

Mayor: I'm not going to question the board's decision on letting Alex Castro go because they did have a, from what was provided to our legal attorneys, they provided some significant information that I think got lost in the this whole thing. 

The mayor had to take her daughter to an appointment and did not have time for follow-up questions.

On October 14, the RHA Board fired director Alex Castro and replaced him with City Councilman Adam McFadden, who resigned his job with a nonprofit to work for RHA. Castro has since retained an attorney, as his contract had specific termination procedures that do not appear to have been followed and ran through 2021.

The appointment of McFadden to the post had been rumored for weeks in political circles. The mayor replaced five of seven RHA board members when she took office.

Last week, the mayor sent the board a letter demanding to know why Castro was fired, or she would ask for their resignations. The mayor's support on Monday for the firing of Castro indicates she was satisfied with the answer.

Moses did not immediately respond to a text message.

Council President Asks HUD for Response

Council President Loretta Scott released this statement Monday:

"Over the last week, the change in leadership at the Rochester Housing Authority (RHA) has been widely discussed in the media.  While the Council has no authority over the RHA, we are nonetheless concerned about the transparency of Board actions and the organization’s stability, as it is the largest provider of low income housing in our region.  Since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides nearly 100% of the funding for RHA operations, we have requested information from the Regional HUD Office regarding their position on the leadership change at the RHA.  They have advised that an extensive review of the process surrounding the recent personnel transactions is underway.  Council will wait and be informed by the outcome of that review.  I am confident that HUD's impartial and expert analysis will be conclusive and indicative of how the RHA should move forward.”

Mayor's Statement

At last Wednesday's Rochester Housing Authority board meeting, many of our public housing residents packed a small room and detailed substandard housing conditions.
 
Between these complaints and the reasons outlined in a letter to T. Andrew Brown, City Corporation Counsel, from RHA labor council last week, it appeared that a change in Rochester Housing Authority leadership was needed. There has been an ongoing culture at the RHA which put the needs of executives above the needs of tenants.
 
Since taking office, I have appointed five members to the Rochester Housing Authority. One position was vacant, two terms had expired, and the other two members had not been appointed legally. The board members that I appointed collectively have vast housing, community and legal experience.
 
There is no doubt that the new board's actions raised many questions in the way they selected an interim executive director. However, since I appointed these members I have not been involved with any of the Authority's business.  It operates as a separate entity.
 
I was notified along with everyone else of both the dismissal of Alex Castro and the hiring of Adam McFadden, as interim director of the Authority.
 
This lack of transparency in the process involved in hiring the interim director has resulted in my asking him now to resign as interim director and not seek the permanent appointment because the board has work that it needs to do on behalf of the residents of RHA.
 
I explained to my friend and political ally that his hasty appointment damaged the integrity of the process, created unnecessary racial tension, and put the needs of the 22,000 residents of the Authority on the back burner.
 
I do, however, stand by the current board in their decision to dismiss Alex Castro. Prior to the new board taking over, the Rochester Housing Authority created a culture that ignored the plight of many residents who complained of sub-standard living conditions, safety and other management issues.
 
The information provided to my corporation counsel about Mr. Castro's dismissal is appalling and truly a personnel matter that transcends the race of the individual dismissed.
 
Everyone knows what I went through at the beginning of the year thus I would never condone this.  I have spoken with the board since the appointment of Mr. McFadden, and I have implored them to conduct a national search for a director in a transparent and inclusive manner.

Protecting the public, especially the most vulnerable among us, must transcend politics. 
McFadden Statement

I know what it is like to live in unsafe housing and unstable neighborhoods. And throughout my years in public service, I have heard from countless people about deplorable living conditions in public housing. 
 
I am dedicated to the people in public housing who need an advocate. My main objective is to bring true reform to the Rochester Housing Authority. My concern and attention is on the tens of thousands of people whose safety and quality of life are threatened.
 
To be clear, I am not resigning at this time. I desire to continue in the capacity as interim executive director because the residents deserve reform and attention and I believe that I am the best fit to lead that change while the board creates its process for a permanent executive director; a position; a position that I will not seek at the conclusion of my term as interim.
 
During my tenure here over the next three months, I intend to work on the following:
1.      Create transparency and greater participation by residents in the delivery of services.
a.       Establish a clearinghouse for resident complaints.
b.      Create better communication between residents and management.
c.       Identify funding streams to replace resident services that were cut such as holiday dinners for seniors and reopen community centers.
 
2.      Initiate a forensic audit.

3.      Review of procurement policies and make recommendations to ensure that is operating fairly and efficiently in a manner to create opportunity for all communities.
a.       Procurement transparency.
b.      Open minority- and women-owned business opportunities in contracting for verifiable and credible M/WBE firms.
c.       Work on formulating clear Section 3 objectives (work program for residents)
At the end of my contract term, it is my intent to ensure this community will have a financially transparent housing authority and a plan in place to address the concerns of people receiving RHA assistance.
 
To be very clear, I am staying here for the citizens the Housing Authority serves. Those citizens deserve reform and I am going to continue to lead that charge. I heard loud and clear their concerns of drug dealing, unsafe houses, cuts in resident services, high demand for section 8 vouchers, concentration of poverty, and self -sufficiency. It is my intent that these issues will be addressed during my tenure. 
 
As it pertains to the termination of the former Executive Director, that is a matter that will be addressed by the Board and its legal counsel.

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