Housing Authority Director Receives Rice Notice
The Hoboken Housing Authority Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet on Thursday night.
Carmelo Garcia, the executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority, has received a Rice notice in preparation for Thursday night’s board meeting.
A Rice notice is usually given out to employees to discuss the terms of their employment. Such matters can be discussed in public or in private. In this case, that’s up to Garcia.
According to the Open Public Meetings Act, a Rice notice can involve “the employment, appointment, termination of employment, terms and conditions of employment, evaluation of the performance of, promotion or disciplining of any specific prospective public officer or employee or current public officer or employee employed or appointed by the public body, unless all the individual employees or appointees whose rights could be adversely affected request in writing that such matter or matters be discussed at a public meeting.”
When asked why the Rice notice was issued, both board members David Mello and Eduardo Gonzalez did not provide any information.
Garcia declined to comment before the meeting on Thursday night. The executive director has hired a lawyer.
The power struggle between the board’s majority under the leadership of Chairman Jake Stuiver and Garcia in the Hoboken Housing Authority has been ongoing for a few months and has resulted in multiple heated meetings. The latest point of contention involved the appointment of a new permanent counsel for the Hoboken Housing Authority.
One of the issues at hand is the question about who at the HHA holds the authority to hire and appoint professionals.
But even after asking the Department of Housing and Urban Development to make a ruling — which it did in the form of a letter — the matter doesn’t seem to be resolved yet.
While Garcia said that the letter clearly states that he — according to his current contract — has the appointing power, Commissioner Mello said he doesn’t necessarily agree and said that the letter doesn’t “one hundred percent make that clear.”
Either way, Mello — who also serves on the Hoboken City Council— continued, “I don’t believe it should be contracted that way.”
Over the past years, the Hoboken Housing Authority has functioned much in the same way as the Hoboken City Council and the mayor, where the mayor has the appointing authority and the council either votes it up or down.
At the Housing Authority, said Mello, he doesn’t think that model is appropriate.
“It concerns me,” Mello continued about giving the sole appointing authority to the executive director, “it causes me to pause.”
Stuiver didn’t return calls, text messages and emails with request for comment.