Raleigh Housing Authority probe not on City Council agenda
Posted January 21, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh City Council members said Tuesday they are concerned about the growing controversy over compensatory time taken by the head of the Raleigh Housing Authority, but they have little jurisdiction in the matter.
Steve Beam, the housing authority's director, has come under fire recently for the amount of time he is out of the office. The News & Observer newspaper reported that Beam had been taking nearly 11 weeks off a year with pay, some of which gave him time to pursue his hobby of magic and card tricks.
Raleigh’s mayor appoints members of the housing authority's board of directors, but the city has almost no control over the operations of the agency, which is primarily funded by the federal government. It manages 2,000 public housing units in Raleigh.
City leaders have voiced concern about Beam's activities, wondering if so much time away from work was having an impact on the agency he oversees. But when he appeared at a council meeting Tuesday to outline the housing authority's annual and five-year plans, no one questioned him about his compensatory time and the issue wasn’t on the agenda.
Several council members praised Beam for his work, and Councilman John Odom even criticized a push from Republican 13th District Congressman George Holding, who has called for a federal audit of the agency.
"I suggest we send a letter off to Washington to George Holding and (Democratic 4th District Congressman) David Price and tell them to make sure they read all the information before they come down and tell us what to do," Odom said.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she would be willing to put in a call to Washington herself.
"I might word it a little differently," she said, eliciting laughter from the council.
Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said she met with the authority's board recently to share her concerns about Beam's time off and suggested the board consider term limits for agency officials and board members.
The board held a closed-door meeting last week to discuss Beam's situation, but no decisions were made.
Beam said at the time that he took 20 comp days last year, but he said they were in exchange for working weekends.