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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg Housing Authority chairman up for reappointment



ST. PETERSBURG - Harry Harvey, chairman of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, is up for reappointment Thursday.

Harvey was appointed to the SPHA board of commissioners in December 1996. He is also active in the local NAACP chapter. Mayor Rick Baker has recommended that the City Council reappoint him.

Council member Herb Polson said during the agenda review meeting last week that the council should consider adding new faces to the board.

Harvey's frequent trips on behalf of the housing authority have gotten him into hot water.

But it seems unlikely that the council won't support Harvey's reappointment. SPHA appointments are done under the council's consent agenda, in which numerous routine items are approved without public discussion.

Harvey said the housing authority staff and his fellow commissioners asked him to stay on the board.

"We need change for what? There is no reason," he said. "If we were stagnant, if we were making the wrong decisions, but we are not."

Lorraine Perry, another housing commissioner, is also on the board.

UPDATE: In an unusual twist, council member Jamie Bennett pulled Harvey's appointment off the consent agenda Thursday in a last minute act that allowed the council to discuss the issue with staff.

Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis said Harvey was the longest serving member of the housing board and the city would lose too much institutional knowledge if he wasn't reappointed.

Bennett said the city should defer a vote on Harvey's appointment until he appeared before the council and until the council received an update on the housing authority's recent actions, including the pending sale of the Graham-Rogall buildings, which make up the city's largest public housing complex.

"I just- we haven't had a report from the housing authority in a very long time," said Bennett, who is running for mayor. "Can we just have a little interaction so we know what you are up to?"

Council voted to defer the reappointment vote until next week.

Council members Wengay Newton and Herb Polson cast the only dissenting votes.

"I don't know how holding up these appointees that are recommended by the mayor is going to help," said Newton, who added the housing authority could present council with a report on its activities regardless of the appointment process.


-Cristina Silva, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:45am]


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