The Story Behind Phil Ryan's Sudden Departure From MDHA

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In a release two weeks ago, Phil Ryan announced his resignation after 21 years in total and 11 years at the head of the Metro Development and Housing Agency. Ryan offered little explanation for his decision at the time.

From The City Paper, perhaps this is why:

According to at least three different people, none of whom would speak on the record because they did not have the authority to, here is what happened:

Ryan decided he was going to demote his director of urban development, Joe Cain, so he placed an ad seeking applications without Cain’s knowledge.

Cain spoke to his father-in-law, attorney and consummate Metro insider George Barrett, and told others that he was about to resign in protest. Barrett convinced Cain to stay put, and after a short time MDHA employees filed complaints against Ryan.

The MDHA board of directors was caught off guard by the dispute and asked an outside attorney to assess the situation. On the attorney’s recommendation, another outside group was hired to evaluate the overall management of the department. The group recommended that both Ryan and Cain be fired.

The MDHA board notified Ryan of the results, and he decided to depart rather than fight a messy battle.

Inside sources say Ryan wanted to go out with “his head held high,” and in the meantime it isn’t clear whether Cain will retain his job.

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