Posted on March 14, 2011

Law Firm Where John Street’s Son Worked Got Millions in PHA Contracts

Mark Fazlollah and Jennifer Lin, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 27, 2011

After he appointed himself to the Philadelphia Housing Authority board in 2004, John F. Street repeatedly voted to award millions of dollars of PHA contracts to the law firm where his son worked–actions that legal experts say appear to violate the Pennsylvania ethics law.

PHA board minutes reviewed by The Inquirer show that six times between 2004 and 2008, Street voted in favor of PHA resolutions “to execute contracts” with Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, the now-defunct firm where his son Sharif Street worked as an associate.

During that period, Wolf Block billed PHA $774,779 for 3,295 hours of work by Sharif Street, according to a review of the authority’s legal bills by The Inquirer. For most of that time, Street was Philadelphia’s mayor, leaving office in early 2008.

Street said he “had nothing to do with any work that may have been done by Sharif.” He also said he had received a waiver in 2004 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “in view of my son’s employment with Wolf Block.”

HUD told Street this month that it had never received a request for a waiver “for the PHA to hire your son, Sharif Street, or any law firm with which he was associated.” {snip}


HUD is scrutinizing all of PHA’s spending, including inordinately high sums for outside legal fees. Since 2007, the agency has spent $38.5 million in legal fees, far more than any other large housing authority, an Inquirer analysis shows.