Hoboken Housing Authority Reappoints Attorney During Heated Meeting
After a bitter clash between the HHA Chairman and the HHA Director, Charlie Daglian was re-appointed as the housing authority's counsel.
The Hoboken Housing Authority Board of Commissioners reappointed longtime attorney Charlie Daglian in a 4-3 vote during a heated special meeting Thursday night.
The tumultuous meeting, which lasted more than three hours, included a series of hostile exchanges between Housing Authority Chairman Jake Stuiver and Executive Director Carmelo Garcia.
While a stale-mate early on in the evening failed to appoint Daglian in a 3-3 vote, he was later appointed when Vice Chairman Rob Davis came to the meeting to take a re-vote.
Stuiver —who was verbally berated by members of the public several times Thursday night, some of whom called him a "backstabber" — had called for the special meeting, planning to act on a resolution to award the year-long contract to the lawfirm of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader, one of four firms that responded to the HHA’s request for proposal.
Florio, Perucci asked for an annual base salary of $60,000; an hourly rate of $150 for special matters and tenant disputes to become the HHA’s counsel. Daglian’s proposal included a $45,000 salary and a $125 hourly rate for extra matters.
The annual salary for the authority’s attorney is capped at a base of $50,000, Garcia said.
Up until now, Daglian had been charging the Hoboken Housing Authority $60,000 annually.
Stuiver said that a committee made up of himself as well as his allies and fellow commissioners David Mello and Greg Lincoln had discussed the four offers and picked Florio because they were most “comfortable” with that offer.
“Comfort is a high urgency,” Stuiver said. “We have to have a high level of trust.”
Garcia, in turn, said that the HHA is legally required to follow guidelines and score the bids following directions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to the ranking completed by Garcia and two other Housing Authority executives, Daglian scored 100 points, against Florio’s 71.
Starting at the beginning of the meeting, which lasted for more than three hours, Stuiver — banging the gavel loudly and often to quiet an agitated crowd of HHA residents — and Garcia disagreed about who has the ultimate power to hire the board’s attorney.
Some residents held signs with phrases like "Jake Must Go" and "Keep Politics out of the Housing Authority."
Daglian told the board that the executive director is the sole appointing authority, a policy that is included in Garcia’s contract. Garcia is about two years into his second five-year contract as HHA director.
When hiring personnel or professionals, the Board of Commissioners has the right to veto or disagree with the director’s choice, but not the right to appoint someone without the director’s input.
Hostile interactions between Stuiver, who was appointed HHA chairman in May, and Garcia persisted throughout the night.
Garcia said that ever since, he has been functioning in a “stressful, hostile, work environment.”
Multiple residents signed up to speak at the meeting, many of them criticizing the chairman, displaying a growing disconnect between the residents and the board.
"How are you as commissioners helping us?" asked Carmen Vega, who lives in Fox Hill Gardens, the HHA senior building.
“Right now, this board is about two things: power and control,” said Councilman Tim Occhipinti, who attended the meeting. “Politics is so infused in this board, you cannot not see it.”
Ultimately, the swing vote was in the hands of Greg Lincoln — who was appointed to the HHA in June — when he broke with the majority and voted “no” on the Florio, Perucci contract. Lincoln explained, he felt “legally obligated” to do so after learning that the executive director has the sole appointing power.