Embattled Elkridge co-op official survives attempt to oust him

July 05, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

The president of an Elkridge housing cooperative is still in office despite accusations that he shouted obscenities at children and threatened to push a disabled woman from her wheelchair.

About 30 tenants from Guilford Gardens Cooperative attempted Tuesday to remove Perry Wayne Crawley from the board of directors. But the tenants failed to achieve a quorum, and they agreed to take another vote next month. According to the organization's bylaws, 48 of the 95 cooperative members must be present to impeach an officer.

Resident Dianne Nelson said Mr. Crawley shouted obscenities at her and threatened to sabotage her car when she attempted to pass out petitions and fliers urging tenants to oust Mr. Crawley from office.

Mr. Crawley, who was elected to the six-member board in January, is not paid and will be up for re-election in one year. He presides over tenant meetings and the board of directors, which maintains the complex, establishes policies, and hires a management agency.

In a June police report, Ms. Nelson accused the president of saying: "I'm going to get you. Tomorrow your car's not going to be there. Maybe you won't be either."

Mr. Crawley also threatened to throw a tenant from her wheelchair, said Ms. Nelson, who produced about 30 letters and documents against the president.

In one complaint form, tenant Claudette Boyd said Mr. Crawley "would stand on his balcony and scream at her children and then warn her also."

In a Jan. 14 letter from F. J. Sheriff Co., the Baltimore firm that manages the cooperative, Mr. Crawley was described as "very irate and belligerent" when asked to return a stove and refrigerator intended for one of five units for the disabled.

"He . . . shouted that anyone entering his apartment might get shot," wrote Francis J. Sheriff, president of the management company.

Mr. Sheriff refused to comment on the letter.

Guilford Gardens Cooperative is owned by the county and managed by F. J. Sheriff Co., which works for the board of directors. About 50 of the 99 units are federally subsidized, Mr. Sheriff said.

After the brief meeting at Guilford Elementary School, Mr. Crawley denied cursing at children, but admitted to shouting at tenants. He said his unorthodox tactics were necessary to rid the 99-unit complex of drug dealers and urine and beer odors in hallways.

"I hollered at them," Mr. Crawley said of the children. "I holler at them every day. But I never cussed at any kids."

In fact, Mr. Crawley said his tough-love tactics have earned him the nickname "Mr. Wayne" among youngsters. Mr. Crawley also said the cooperative's previous manager, Commercial Management Co. in Rockville, gave him the stove and refrigerator three years ago.

To buttress his arguments, Mr. Crawley brought an official from his church and the president of the Howard County NAACP branch.

"I've always regarded him as being a responsible, competent person," said the Rev. Leonard Frieson of First Baptist Church of Guilford.

The minister said Mr. Crawley has a strong rapport with neighborhood children and is helping the church acquire desperately needed Bibles.

Tenant Julia Spruill also praised Mr. Crawley's hard-nosed

management style. "This is not the easiest place to raise kids," said Ms. Spruill. "We have people drinking beer, taking drugs. Sometimes drastic situations call for drastic measures."

Leonard S. Vaughan, Howard County housing director, described Mr. Crawley as an unpretentious individual.

"Wayne is a very dedicated person," said Mr. Vaughan, an appointed member of the board of directors. "He's not a polished person and sometimes he's not a very diplomatic person, but his heart is in the right place."

Mr. Crawley, wearing a black baseball cap and high-top sneakers, said he was the true victim of tenants' complaints.

"They started picking on me," Mr Crawley said of residents. "I'm a nice guy."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.