Housing Board Majority Seeks to Terminate Executive Director's Contract
A last minute resolution was put forward at a Hoboken Housing Authority meeting on Thursday night, in which chairman Jake Stuiver and his allies on the board proposed to terminate Executive Director Carmelo Garcia's contract.
Hoboken Housing Authority Chairman Jake Stuiver and his allies on the HHA board proposed a resolution to terminate Executive Director Carmelo Garcia's contract on Thursday night, in what appears to be an ongoing struggle about who has the power to hire professionals at the Housing Authority.
Ultimately, both parties agreed to renegotiate some terms of the contract in the coming 90 days, according to several people who attended Thursday's meeting.
The executive director's contract — Garcia is currently two and a half years into his five year contract at an annual salary of $150,000 — can only be terminated unilaterally by the Housing board 120 days before the end date of the contract, Garcia as well as Commissioner Eduardo Gonzalez said.
Another way to terminate the contract is to present a "cause." In that scenario, the board has to provide the director with a 30 day notice of that cause, said Garcia.
Stuiver proposed the termination in a last minute resolution on Thursday night. The day before, Garcia had received a Rice notice for job separation.
The members of the HHA majority — Stuiver, Councilman David Mello, High School Track and Field Coach Judy Burrell and former council candidate Greg Lincoln, who all support Mayor Dawn Zimmer — want to change the clause in Garcia's contract that he is the sole appointing power of the HHA, when it comes to professionals such as lawyers and auditors.
Mello said that he has no intention to replace Garcia as the executive director, but that he wants to change some of the terms regarding the procurement process.
"I don't think a hired employee should have that type of power," Mello said. But, he added, "we don't want to get rid of (Garcia)."
Burrell and Lincoln were both contacted, but neither were reached.
According to his contract — which was approved by the Hoboken Housing Authority Board — Garcia is due for a salary increase in September.
"I don't believe there's a cause," said Gonzalez on Friday afternoon. Gonzalez said he wasn't aware before the meeting of the resolution to terminate Garcia's contract.
Stuiver was contacted for comment five times by phone and twice by text message on Friday, but didn't answer or return any messages.
Garcia, in a follow up interview on Friday, said he is willing to negotiate with the board members.
"I want to hear them out," Garcia said, "listen to their concerns."
On Thursday night, after giving Garcia 10 minutes to defend his position, Stuiver called for a recess to talk to Garcia and his lawyer, Gonzalez said, recounting the prior evening's events.
Afterward, Stuiver proposed to withdraw the resolution and enter into negotiations, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said that ten minutes wasn't enough for Garcia to defend himself.
"You have to respect the position," Gonzalez said. "You may not respect the man, but you have to respect the position."