Thursday, January 12, 2006

Time for a new scandal

The Daily News outs Philadelphia City Councilman Darrell Clarke for apparent conflict of interest in directing a government-supported housing development to a nonprofit from which he had bought his own house, despite the fact that it involved grabbing land from a rival nonprofit developer.
That long-vacant land was to go to Kensington South, which planned to build 14 market-rate and 10 affordable homes with the help of $1.24 million in federal housing funds.

The land is owned by 413 Hope Mission Ministries, another non-profit, which has a rival plan to build 40 market-rate homes with no government assistance.
Keeping up the theme of folks who just don't get it (either reality or appearance of inpropriety), Clarke declares that there's no problem here.
Clarke asserts that he has a right to buy a home from whomever he wishes, that this purchase had nothing to do with his official duties and that he scrupulously made sure there was no public subsidy involved.
He got the City Solicitor to look at the matter and agree that there was no problem. Of course, he barely spoke to the current owners of the property that he had condemned. And it's hard not to see the custom-refurbished house as a convenient gift, when you see discussion like this:
Clarke said the price he paid was market rate, but Scott Krisanda, Kensington South's executive director, said the non-profit probably lost money on the transaction when all its soft costs are added up.
I agree that Kensington's proposal, because it includes an affordable-housing component, could be preferable to that of Hope Mission, but the fact is that the latter already owns the property and wishes to develop it -- this hardly seems like a proper use of eminent domain, even without the uncomfortable closeness.

[Previous mentions of Clarke on ASFR, related to various bills and suggestions: 1, 2, 3, 4]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the most disturbing about this is that the Daily News didnt report the motive behind the story, ie that Hope Mission has helped repubs in the past including Sam Katz. They also hosted one Lynn Swann last week, much to Darrell Clark's chagrin.

5:45 PM  
Blogger lutton said...

Well, it seems if one developer owned the land and had a plan, and someone swooped in and stole it from under them, the former developer should be compensated in some way.

I prefer the mixed market & affordable (I guess amrket rate around here is now UNaffordable) rate housing, but still, the original owner is getting dissed here.

6:35 AM  
Blogger lutton said...

Regarding the Lynn Swann thing, the condemation bill seems to have been introduced in May 2005, so well ahead of Lynn Swanns appearance.

But I wouldn't put it past Philadelp[hia politics for the Sam Katz support...

PS can you get rid of the word verification?

6:43 AM  
Blogger ACM said...

I'll get rid of the word verification as soon as you volunteer to come by and delete all the spam post that were appearing on both of my blogs *every day*. It's a drag for both the blog and my email in-box. Sorry about that, but it seems a small price to pay.

9:59 AM  

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