by Max Brantley
The Little Rock Housing Authority today voted to hire an outside counsel, Little Rock lawyer Arkie Byrd, to review personnel issues that led to the recent suspension of Shelly Ehenger, executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Alliance. The city-governed agency oversees federally subsidized housing programs. Ehenger has been the source of complaints from other employees, including one she had suspended, that led to the recent suspension.
Authority Commissioner Kenyon Lowe said the Board voted unanimously — with the exception of an abstention by Brad Walker — to have outside counsel review the matter. He'd said earlier that the commission wanted an independent assessment so that there'd be no question of bias on the part of the commission, which had done some preliminary review of its own.
Byrd has worked as a contractor for the commission previously. She was paid more than $10,000 — at $180 an hour — for to act as special counsel on a complaint Ehenger had made about Commissioner Walker. She'll be paid at the same rate on the new work, acting director Ron Hooks said.