The board of the Atlanta Housing Authority voted Wednesday to resolve a dispute over costly legal bills of the agency’s former chief executive. But it’s not clear if the board’s action will bring the long-running legal battle with Renee Glover to a swift close.
At issue are hundreds of thousands of dollars and taxpayers will be on the hook for at least some of those costs.
William Hill Jr., Glover’s attorney, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that AHA has acted in bad faith. Glover was forced to pull out of the proposed agreement last month after the board dragged its feet for months, Hill said.
On Wednesday, Hill said the parties are still in mediation and Glover will consider AHA’s proposal a settlement offer, but there is no deal.
“In a public meeting, they’re misleading the public into believing they’ve accepted a settlement proposal from Ms. Glover,” Hill said. “They knew there was no settlement proposal on the table.”
Wednesday’s board action is the latest wrinkle in a nasty legal battle that will likely end up costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Glover’s legal bills are one piece of nearly two years of costly litigation that’s dogged the organization and that critics say has distracted the agency from its mission of providing housing to low-income residents.
Amid leadership changes and litigation, AHA has failed to develop new affordable housing at a time when low-income residents have been squeezed by soaring housing costs.
An AJC reporter requested a copy of the settlement at the board meeting but an attorney for the agency said a copy was not immediately available. She said one would be provided to the newspaper by the end of the day.
Asked how the proposed settlement could resolve the legal controversy when the other party withdrew from the potential agreement last month, Terri Thompson, AHA’s general counsel, said Glover can opt back into the agreement at any time.
The board’s vote authorizes payment to her, Thompson said, and in the board’s eyes it resolves the matter.
Hill said his client will move forward with arbitration.
“I’ve heard nothing from the Atlanta Housing Authority and I’ve heard nothing from their lawyers,” Hill said.
The fight over Glover’s legal bills stems from lawsuits filed in 2017 under the direction of then-Mayor Kasim Reed. In his final months in office, Reed pushed AHA to sue companies affiliated with local developer Egbert Perry. Later, Reed directed the city to file a separate suit against Perry and Glover seeking at least $100 million in damages.
The lawsuits revolved around allegations Perry and Glover entered a backroom real estate deal that gave away a large portion of housing authority land at a steep discount. Perry and Glover have said the city misrepresented the terms and the suits were an attempt to destroy their respective reputations.
A judge dismissed the AHA lawsuit against Perry’s companies. And in April 2018, the city withdrew its lawsuit against Perry and Glover.
Perry’s companies have since counter-sued, and that litigation is pending. Glover in August sued for coverage of her legal costs which Hill argued was covered by an indemnification clause in her 2013 separation agreement.
Indemnification is a common practice for governments and the private sector to offer legal protections to leaders for actions they took in good faith during their official duties.
Also, on Thursday, the board voted against a resolution that would convey land at the center of the agency’s dispute with Perry to Perry’s companies.
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