Rochester, New York -
City Councilman Adam McFadden's short tenure as interim director of the Rochester Housing Authority will end on Saturday.
McFadden resigned during Wednesday's board meeting, nearly a week after the Department of Housing and Urban Development directed the RHA to remove him from the post. HUD said McFadden cannot serve as councilman and RHA leader. The agency also said the RHA board didn't do a proper search for an interim leader.
"It seems like they were bending their own rules to disqualify me from serving and I didn't want to put the authority of the position where they were now battling with HUD," said McFadden, who claims HUD has allowed similar situations elsewhere.
“Mr. McFadden and the Rochester Housing Authority Board took the correct action to resolve a conflict of interest that was in violation of HUD regulations. We look forward to working with the Rochester Housing Authority and new leadership going forward," said a HUD spokesman in a statement.
McFadden's appointment in October was very controversial. The RHA board, made up of new members appointed by Mayor Lovely Warren, fired previous director Alex Castro and hired McFadden. The move had been rumored for weeks. Critics accused the mayor and board of engaging in political patronage.
"When I went into this, I knew it would be, what I would call a crapstorm," said McFadden.
When asked if he has any regrets about hiring Castro, Board Chairman George Moses said, "We knew we had to get done, we need an outside person to look at some things and we knew it would be controversial."
Moses said one of the lessons learned is to keep potential leaders quiet. The RHA board is considering internal candidates to serve as interim director. Moses also said RHA needs a public relations staff member.
Firing Castro could prove to be costly. The board voted on Wednesday to approve a separation agreement. Castro was fired with seven years remaining on his $140,000-a-year contract. Despite the board's public vote, Moses would not reveal the contract terms. An RHA attorney said the information would be made available when the agreement is signed and executed.
The board gave McFadden a round of applause after accepting his resignation. Moses said McFadden identified problems and put the focus back on residents. McFadden is not resigning until Saturday, after a holiday party he planned for seniors. He secured sponsorship for the event.
Although McFadden said previously he would not seek the permanent director position, he never said he would not accept the job, if offered. McFadden said he would have reviewed the offer. Moses said the board intended all along to do a full search for a director.
"The story cannot continue to be about me and why I'm here," said McFadden. "The story has to be about the 20,000-plus residents that we serve."
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