District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray has tapped housing leader Michael P. Kelly to direct the district’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
Due to Kelly’s appointment, current DHCD Director John Hall has been moved to a newly created position as senior advisor for Housing to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED).
“Affordable housing is an issue of utmost importance to a large percentage of District residents, and addressing that issue is a priority for my administration,” Gray said.
“With the team of Michael Kelly and John Hall in place, we will be better equipped to tackle this complex challenge.”
Last Friday, Kelly announced that he was resigning from the Philadelphia Housing Authority due to family responsibilities.
While at the helm of PHA, Kelly was credited for many sweeping reforms. He re-established the Office of General Counsel — which manages PHA’s legal affairs and created the Office of Internal Audit and Compliance to ensure business transitions were compliant.
He headed PHA’s Transition Plan — which aims to establish a culture of respect, accountability and transparency at the agency. Under Kelly, PHA reached a new contract agreement with Building and Construction Trades Council regarding worker’s pensions.
Kelly has decades of experience in urban housing agencies, including service as director of the D.C. Housing Authority from 2000 to 2009. He served as executive director of PHA, at the request of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) while the agency was in administrative receivership and instituting major reforms.
Kelly came to PHA in December 2010 when the authority was in the midst of turmoil. He is credited with maintaining focus and providing uninterrupted service during the Carl Greene controversy.
In 2008, accusations of sexually harassment against PHA Director Carl Greene surfaced. Greene was fired in September 2010 after the board of directors discovered that he used approximately $900,000 of federal funding for multiple sexual harassment lawsuits.
As PHA’s interim executive director, Kelly was on loan from the New York City Housing Authority, based on agreements that he serve both roles while maintaining duties as general manager of NYCHA. In August 2011, Kelly was named permanent executive director at PHA.
Kelly has directed housing agencies in San Francisco and New Orleans as well. Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urban planning from Princeton University, a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in education, also from UC–Berkeley. Kelly, a licensed architect and urban planner, holds a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Michael P. Kelly announced his resignation as director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority last Friday.
On Monday it was announced that District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray has tapped Kelly to direct the district’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
“Frankly, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, “Kelly told the Tribune Friday when asked about his resignation. “Believe me; it has nothing to do with politics, or with the public officials and the citizens of Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter has been very gracious, and I’ve had positive experience with city council. I’m thankful for my time here in Philadelphia, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
“It really was a personal, painful decision for family reasons,” he said. “I know that sounds like a typical politician’s line, but it happens to be true.”
When the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development accepted Kelly’s resignation it also announced that Estelle Richman, a senior adviser to the HUD secretary, will replace Karen Newton-Cole, the agency’s one-person board chair.
Richman served as the lone authority board commissioner when HUD placed the housing authority in receivership last year. She will be returning to that role.
When Kelly arrived at PHA in December 2010 it was during a period of major upheaval for an agency rocked by scandal.
Kelly took over the agency after his predecessor, Carl R. Greene, was fired in September 2010 after the board of directors discovered that Greene used approximately $900,000 of federal money for multiple sexual-harassment complaint settlements.
He brought more than 30 years of public experience from other cities like New York, San Francisco, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
Kelly has been credited with reforms and bringing stability to PHA, which provides homes for 80,000 low-income people and has an annual budget of $400 million.
Kelly headed PHA’s Transition Plan — which established a culture of respect, accountability and transparency at the agency. A zero tolerance policy was instituted, and employees were held to new ethical policies and procedures.
It would have been good if Kelly could have stayed longer to provide even more stability to an agency still recovering from Greene’s tenure.
In the interim, Kelly will be replaced by Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA’s current director of audit and compliance. A national search will be launched to find a new executive director, said Newton-Cole.
PHA should search for a director who is committed to continuing the kinds of reform that Kelly brought to the housing agency.
WASHINGTON — Chuck Brown, who styled a unique mix of funk, soul and Latin party sounds to create go-go music in the nation's capital, has died after suffering from pneumonia. He was 75.
Brown, widely acclaimed as the "Godfather of go-go" for his pioneering sound, died Wednesday at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. Hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson confirmed Brown had died after a hospital stay that began April 18.
Thanks to Brown and his deep, gravelly voice, go-go music was uniquely identified with Washington. That's where he continued to play the city's club circuit to a loyal audience late in life.
Mayor Vincent Gray said the nation's capital will be a different place without him. Mournful admirers of the musician were called Wednesday evening to an impromptu candlelight vigil in Washington, where a sound truck was to blast a special Chuck Brown music mix to the crowd before a prayer session for him.
"Go-go is D.C.'s very own unique contribution to the world of pop music," he said. "Today is a very sad day for music lovers the world over."
In 2007 Brown told The Associated Press that go-go was influenced by sounds and fast beats he heard early in life, growing up in North Carolina and Virginia, combined with his experience later, playing with a Latin band.
"Go-go is a music that continues on and on, and it's a call and response communication with the audience," Brown said.
Go-go was heavy on percussion with drummers as lead players, accented by guitar riffs, keyboards and horns. Sometimes the musicians would play for two or three hours without stopping. In between tunes, Brown would keep the thunk of percussion going and talk to the crowd.
Brown's hit "Bustin' Loose" with his group, the Soul Searchers, helped define go-go's sound. It spent several weeks atop the R&B chart in 1979. Rapper Nelly later sampled Brown's "Bustin' Loose" in 2002 for his massive hit "Hot in Herre," which won Nelly a Grammy.
Brown didn't get credit at first, though, and "had to go through some legalities to get it right, but we knew, once we heard the song, that's Chuck Brown," said Gregory "Sugar Bear" Elliott, lead singer of the go-go band EU (Experience Unlimited.)
In 2007, rapper Eve sampled Brown's song, "Blow Your Whistle," in her hit single "Tambourine."
Brown told the AP he admired such artists.
"Go-Go had some influence on rap because a lot of rap musicians come to my shows," he said. "Some of them were students at Howard University. People like Puff Daddy, he's been to see us when he was a young Howard University student."
Spike Lee, a fan of Brown's, used go-go for his movie "School Daze."
"Chuck Brown Will Always Be 'Bustin' Loose' — the Godfather of Go-Go," Lee said through a spokeswoman.
Elliot said Brown had been a father figure since he was a teen when he aspired to be a rocker like Jimmy Hendrix but realized he wouldn't make it that way as a young black man. When he saw Brown perform, he said he "instantly knew" what he wanted to do.
"Chuck Brown is going to live on forever. I'm going to make sure of that," Elliott said. "When they see me, I want them to see a reflection of Chuck because he inspired me so much."
He added: "The go-go sound is still going strong."
When Brown was younger, he spent some time in jail. While behind bars, he traded five cartons of cigarettes for his first guitar. After he was freed in 1962, Brown played with several bands and then formed the Soul Searchers. To comply with terms of his parole, they couldn't play where alcohol was served, so they went to churches, recreation halls and youth centers.
Brown's daughter, Cherita Whiting, said he had died from complications with pneumonia and was gone too soon.
"I just want to tell all his fans, thank you, for lovin' our dad," she said. "He had the best fans in the world."
During the crack epidemic of the 1980s, violence in some clubs affected go-go's reputation. Brown said "we can't blame the go-go for that," though.
More recently, he said he had seen more grandparents at his shows, with an audience ranging in age from 18 to 60.
In 2005, he was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Washington was always his most loyal fan base, Brown told the AP, and he was happy to play here the rest of his life. -- (AP)
It seems that people championing causes important to Black communities are diminishing in number. Now that African Americans have access to the “mainstream,” it’s now less popular to determine and define issues in racial themes and objectives.
Case in point, D.C. Councilman Marion Barry is embroiled in controversy, this time for remarks criticizing local hospitals for hiring Filipino nurses instead of local residents. At a Council budget hearing, Barry told officials of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) they should hire more D.C. residents as teachers and nurses, “It’s so bad that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” Barry said. The former D.C. mayor’s critics are calling his comments “racist.” Current mayor Vincent Gray, and several D.C. Council members, have condemned Barry’s statements. Some “concerned citizens” are organizing a “Say Sorry Barry” campaign urging that he “apologize.”
To Blacks, Barry’s goals seem laudable when he says that he wants UDC to become the premier supplier of medical personnel and nurses to hospitals in the District. Barry said, “Let’s grow our own teachers … and nurses. The nation has a national shortage of nurses to the point it has to hire foreigners” Barry said. The champion of the people says, “I want UDC to become the premiere nursing school … that graduates 400 nurses a year that can service D.C. residents.”
The persistent nursing shortage is a serious national issue in which Black Americans could be pivotal in solving. And, as the baby boomers age and the nation’s health care needs grow, Barry sounds prophetic to some. Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing colleges and universities across the country are struggling to expand enrollment levels to meet the rising demand. An intense shortage of registered nurses (RNs) is projected in the South and the West. Aside from deteriorating working conditions, the nursing profession has failed to be attractive to young Blacks or whites; and much now needs to be done to counter college students’ declines in interest to consider nursing as a probable career.
The former colonial relationship between America and the Philippines is the foundation for Barry’s true, but scorned, comments. The first nursing school, Union Mission Hospital Training School for Nurses, was established in the Philippines in 1906. The first big wave of nurses from the Philippines came in the late 1940s. Thousands migrated to the U.S. in the 1960s and ’70s. The Philippines have been the number one source of foreign-trained nurses in the U.S. for decades. In 2005, 55 percent of the foreign-trained registered nurses in the U.S. were educated in the Philippines. As America’s nursing shortage grows in severity, a whole new generation of Philippine nurses is coming here.
If we drop the political correctness, and look at the situation from Barry’s perspective, nursing is a field and shortage that Blacks need to address. In D.C., and across the nation, nursing is perhaps the most in-demand and well-paid profession in the medical industry. Registered nurses (RNs) constitute 2.6 million jobs. The average age of an R.N. is 44.5 years. More than 581,000 new nursing jobs will be available within a decade. The average annual salary is $57,200 and base salaries can be as high as $72,000.
In America’s “mainstream” society,” Black leadership has become a negative moniker. It’s possible that the “politically correct” people scolding Barry don’t understand that what he is saying is that “the next generation of nurses should look like communities they serve … and that speaking the language and understanding the culture of patients is especially important.”
Today, 24 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) offer baccalaureate-level nursing programs. The Ethnic Minority Fellowship Program strives to increase the number of minorities in medicine and offers annual stipends to pre-and-postdoctoral students. The National Black Nurses Association offers several annual scholarships with award amounts that range from $500 to $2000. Minority Nurse Magazine sponsors annual scholarships for minority students with outstanding academic records who have demonstrated personal commitment to health care professions.
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through Bailey Group.org.