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Phil Matier: SF Housing Authority Complaints Reflect Poorly On Mayor

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - The embattled head of the San Francisco Housing Authority, under investigation and being sued over complaints of bullying and intimidating employees, has now come under fire by low income tenants who live in the buildings his agency manages.

It's hard right now to find anyone who has something good to say about Henry Alvarez. He has his defenders on the San Francisco Housing Commission, but Alvarez's tenure at the agency is a classic story of the unwatched pot boiling over.

KCBS, CBS 5 and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

Concerns about maintenance at various Housing Authority properties go back more than a year. Residents complain they've waited months sometimes for very simple fixes, other times the repairs never happen.

Then just a few months ago, employees came in accusing Alvarez of being abusive and retaliatory. Even though that landed him in court, he's held onto his job. That's not something you would have seen under Willie Brown or Gavin Newsom.

Mayor Ed Lee had a long career as a city bureaucrat, and his administration has shown a penchant for the bureaucratic way. The employees' complaints are being investigated. A spokeswoman for the agency says technology is being improved to track repair requests.

Career politicians like Brown or Newsom, or even Gov. Jerry Brown, confronted with the legal troubles now facing Alvarez would immediately think, how is this going to affect me?

Lee's defense that he does not want to get involved in personnel matters doesn't ring true among those who point out the mayor showed no such restraint when Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was charged with a crime.

The optics of the situation only look worse in light of the fact that Alvarez asked Lee, a personal friend, to officiate at his wedding.

The mixed signals and mishandling of this situation shows Ed Lee has not suffered the popular up and down that comes with slings and arrows of politics.

You can hear Phil Matier's comments Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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