Editorial: St. Petersburg Housing Authority needs new chief

CEO Tony Love has had too many complaints about his management style and other issues.
St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love seen during a February board meeting. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love seen during a February board meeting. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published April 12

Tony Love should be evicted as CEO of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The concerns raised about his management style and multiple other issues make it clear its past time for a change in leadership. That should be the first priority for the housing authority’s board after Mayor Rick Kriseman appoints new members.

As the Tampa Bay Times Christopher O’Donnell has reported, the issues started piling up as soon as Love arrived. After he was hired in 2016, Loved lived rent free for nine months in an apartment designated for low-income families and used agency money to pay for furnishings and the electric bill. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that violated federal rules and cited the housing authority.

That was only the beginning. In 2017, the housing authority paid $3,650 for a consultant to coach Love on his management style. The consultant advised Love, who acknowledged he screamed at staffers, to stop criticizing employees in front of others and making friends with owners of private firms that are paid by the housing authority. The advice apparently didn’t stick. This spring, another top employee at the housing authority filed a complaint that Love bullied and intimidated her.

There is more blame to go around. The housing authority board failed to hold Love accountable. It even gave him a 7 percent raise while some board members had not seen his evaluation. Kriseman plans to remove three board members and recently declined to reappoint two others. That should send a clear message.

It’s time for a fresh start at the St. Petersburg Housing Authority with a more responsible board and a new CEO. Love has more than three strikes, and he should be out.

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