Wednesday, September 2, 2015

MHA Chair Defends Lipscomb Pay: Allegations 'Horrendous' But 'He Has Not Been Convicted'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 9:29 AM

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Robert Lipscomb was suspended with pay Wednesday morning from his job as the director of the Memphis Housing Authority [MHA].

Some discussion followed the part of the deal that would give Lipscomb pay during his suspension. But only one member of the MHA board, William Stemmler, voted to suspend Lipscomb without pay.

Lipscomb MHA salary is about $136,000, paid largely through federal funds. 

MHA board chairman Ian Randolph said after the meeting that the decision to continue to pay him came down to the will of the board.

“They decided they felt better paying Robert (Lipscomb),” he said. “These, at present, are allegations. They are horrendous but he has not been convicted as of today.”



Randolph said the MHA board of commissioners is now in the process of its own disciplinary process regarding Lipscomb. The outcome of that process will be likely known during another specially called meeting of the MHA board on September 16.

The board also approved to appoint Maura Black Sullivan, now the city's deputy chief administrative officer, as MHA's interim director. 

Black Sullivan said she is proud of MHA's work and will strive MHA make Memphis "that shining city on the hill that we all dream it will be."

Black Sullivan said she can start her new job immediately on a full-time basis. Memphis Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s office recommended Black Sullivan to the post and that she continue to be paid her current salary. Black Sullivan’s pay in 2014 was $117, 032.50, according to city records.

Before the board took any votes Wednesday, MHA chairman Ian Randolph, made a brief statement.

“Over the years MHA has risen to a high-performing status and has been upheld as a model agency throughout the country,” Randolph said. “Our employees have worked hard with our private partners to change the face of public housing as we know it in this city. This board’s goal is to maintain our high level of performance and delivery to our customers. We are making every effort to ensure our agency and its projects continue to move forward.”

MHA also voted Wednesday to allow the city of Memphis to conduct a full financial audit of its books. Chairman Randolph said MHA is also conducting its own audit “to make sure our funds were not misappropriated.” 

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