Infighting Over Attorney Contract Continues at Hoboken Housing Authority
An ongoing power struggle on the board could impact when the Housing Authority commissioners will vote on a developer for the first phase of vision 20/20.
An ongoing disagreement about a legal contract between the majority of the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and Executive Director Carmelo Garcia is heating up again.
The dispute could affect when the board votes on a developer to start the first phase of the Vision 20/20, a plan that looks to overhaul the entire housing authority.
"We have other concerns that need to be resolved before we can take any other further steps on 20/20," Chairman Jake Stuiver said in an extensive phone interview on Tuesday.
While a majority of the board voted to reappoint longtime board attorney Charles Daglian as the legal counsel at a recent heated meeting, Stuiver is now saying that vote — as well as the rest of the meeting — was invalid.
A stale-mate early on in that meeting failed to appoint Daglian in a 3-3 vote, but he was later appointed when Vice Chairman Rob Davis dropped into the meeting to take a re-vote. (Davis left shortly after taking the vote.)
According to Roberts Rules of Order — in essence, the rule book the board follows — Stuiver said, only board members with a dissenting vote are able to propose a re-vote. That didn't happen.
Furthermore, Stuiver said that Daglian's attendance at the meeting was a conflict of interest, because he was advising the board on a contract that pertained himself.
Stuiver proposed a resolution to award lawfirm Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader with the yearlong contract for a base of $60,000 a year. Daglian is asking for a base of $45,000, a $15,000 decrease from Daglian's last year's contract.
Stuiver is basing his decision on a ruling from City Attorney Melissa Longo, whom he asked for advice.
Daglian, reached on the phone on Wednesday afternoon, said he disagreed with that opinion, but wouldn't comment on the situation further.
Garcia, meanwhile, said that Longo has no jurisdiction or power over the Housing Authority Board.
Stuiver said that Longo's opinion "confirms our suspicions that many aspects of the Feb. 7 Special Meeting did not pass the smell test, and that those commissioners who have been questioning the soundness, validity and objectivity of Mr. Daglian's advice have been on the right track."
Stuiver has been on the housing authority board for more than three years and said he approved Daglian's contract "at least once" in the past. Recently, Stuiver said, he has disagreed with Daglian's professional decisions.
Another part of this struggle, is the disagreement on who at the HHA has the power to hire attorneys and other professionals.
While the Board of Commissioners — of which the current majority sides with Stuiver — put forth a resolution for one law firm, Garcia said he is the sole appointing authority. The board, Garcia said, simply has the power to approve or deny the director's decision.
"My priority is going to be resolving the question of appointing authority," Stuiver said, to avoid "any messy situation."
Stuiver said that before this is resolved, he is in no hurry to appoint any other contracts or hire any other professionals, something that could impact the Vision 20/20 timeline.
A subcommittee on which Stuiver, as well as Commissioners David Mello and Rob Davis serve, is supposed to look into the six developer contracts for Vision 20/20.
Stuiver also said that Commissioner Greg Lincoln — who voted against Stuiver on February 7 — will not be approving Daglian's contract if a future vote is taken, which secures a four-vote majority against Daglian.
"We cannot appoint anybody with Daglian serving as council," Stuiver said. "He cannot participate. He’s too conflicted."