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Op-Ed: HHA Chairman Responds to Commissioner's Letter on Attorney Appointment

Hoboken Housing Authority Chairman Robert Davis responded Friday to Commissioner Jake Stuiver's letter applauding the board's opposition to re-appointing general counsel Charles Daglian.

Dear Editor:

Please be advised that as the Chairman of the Housing Authority of the City of Hoboken I wish to respond to the letter Commissioner Jake Stuiver had that nerves to write concerning the awarding of a contract  for legal services and reform. 

Mr. Stuiver questions myself and my colleagues that voted for the contract for Mr. Daglian and says that those who voted against are reformers trying to protect the Hoboken Housing Authority. Nothing could be further from the truth. Calling yourself a reformer does not make you a reformer, actions speak louder than words.

Commissioner Stuiver neglects to mention how it was him as Chairman who attempted to improperly award a contract to a political firm that has a contract with the city by putting forth a pocket resolution that did not use a valid criteria to select them, but on the basis of his comfort. He fails to state that the Authority has lost $18,000 in savings and unnecessary expenses due to his bias and the politics of wanting to control the professional contracts. He did not employ nor honor the regulated procurement process, that is why later he wanted to take away the appointing authority powers of the Executive Director.

What I find more interesting is that in the past years he voted with us for Mr. Daglian with no objection. Another fact: he tried to do the same thing with the auditor and after three times of being unsuccessful he ended up voting for the Giampolo firm who just completed our audit. Where is the reform? It's with the agency and its leadership, our audits and performance demonstrate it.

He also fails to inform the public that they all approved the Vision 2020 plan which the board voted unanimously for us to invest $150,000 of taxpayers dollars into getting the design and application submitted. To now object to it is irresponsible and wasteful spending. The four Commissioners who voted against the contract are clearly aligned with Mayor Zimmer to carry out city hall's agenda.

Consequently, they know that the HHA is an autonomous agency where city hall is not supposed to impose its agenda or inject its politics, yet they've tried over and over and I'm tired of it. We the residents are tired of it!

The facts speak for themselves. Look at the events in the recent year since Jake was Chairman and you will see how politically motivated his behavior has been. This has nothing to do with the appointment of Mr. Daglian or even the performance of the Executive Director, but politics. It has everything to do with the political position they've taken, their prejudice and the class warfare that the Mayor and her supporters on the board have displayed, to stop Vision 2020, which is a plan to rebuild, replace, and revitalize the Hoboken Housing Authority so that our residents live in buildings that are not aged and vulnerable to events like Sandy. The buildings will be more integrated with the City of Hoboken, will be able to uplift the west end and provide greater amenities like an aquatics center and increased open space at no cost to the city. Vision 2020 will not increase the number of residents of the Housing Authority any more than what is deemed appropriate by "us" the Board of Commissioners, it will just make housing modern, appreciate the neighborhood's value and improve quality of life for everyone.

As for Mr. Daglian’s contract, the public should be aware that the Hoboken Housing Authority is governed by Federal and State Law to ensure that an awarding of a contract for professional services is done in a fair and open manner. It is to avoid the old ways of just picking your personal political friend. On three prior occasions,  the Housing Authority published a notice for Request for Proposals from all interested legal firms to be legal counsel for the Housing Authority. On those three prior occasions, I, along with my committee's recommendation, put forth Mr. Daglian based upon objective criteria which rated experience, ability and cost. The public should know that Mr. Daglian has represented the Hoboken Housing Authority for over ten years. He has served under four different Executive Directors, all of whom had recommended the renewal of his contract. In addition, Mr. Daglian was always lowest cost proposal of any of the submitting firms. Yet, on each of those occasions, the “reformers” voted no without stating a reason. Actually, Commissiner Lincoln never even read the proposals as he stated on record and noted that it could be brought back for his consideration which is what I chose to do.

Finally, in this last Request for Proposals which was done in exact conformity with Federal and State Regulations, Mr. Daglian’s law firm, again, of the four firms submitting, was the lowest cost option and he had all of the necessary experience and ability for the contract. At the meeting on June 13, 2013 (a meeting in which Commissioner Stuiver, in the middle of the meeting, walked out in anger when his personal selection for Chairman was defeated) three of the Commissioners voted for Mr. Daglian’s contract and three of the Commissioners voted against it. When I questioned the Commissioners voting against the contract why they were voting "no," one Commissioner admitted that “he had never even reviewed the proposals." Clearly, the vote "no" was just made on the basis that Mayor Zimmer wanted to control who was the legal counsel for the Hoboken Housing Authority and her “reformers" voted against the most responsible and best advantageous for the Hoboken Housing Authority.

This is a man who infiltrated our hearts and deceived us, has moved from Hoboken and actually lives in Pennsylvania, yet he refuses to resign commissioner to allow for a resident to be appointed that will serve the interest of its community.

A reformer is a person who reforms a bad system and makes it better. Mr. Stuiver is not a reformer. He is taking a system that by law cannot be manipulated and trying to manipulate it for his/their own political purposes. He knows that if they can replace the Executive Director, they can effectively destroy Vision 2020 and therefore, contain a “problematic area” of Hoboken. I will not be a party to this disrespect of our residents or to this injustice.

 

HHA Chairman Robert Davis III

puzzledone June 24, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Perry, 1. Why do you believe this is better living conditions than a town home model which is being touted nationally as a better solution. It seems the elimination of closed off open spaces would help eliminate a lot of the loitering issues that seem to go along with drug use and crime in project housing. It seems 2020 is a means to having the same old problems in newer buildings. 2. There was a statement in the Reporter that the 20% of additional housing could go to market rate. Do you know anyone who would want to live in high rise projects at market rate, even if they were brand new?
peterbelfiore June 24, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Puzzle, There is an ongoing debate concerning the dearth of open space in Hoboken and limiting same would seem counter intuitive as law enforcement. Additionally, you cannot fit all the existing tenants in the 2 family town home design and use of phrases as "same old problems or questioning mainstreaming " market rate" housing leads me to believe you generalize without truly knowing the great people who live in HHA. Perry
puzzledone June 24, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Perry, I know that special floors had to be installed for "urine proofing." I know that multiple arrests were recently made for loitering around the area. I know that a cocaine dealer was recently arrested. I know the buildings were not properly brought to code, and a federal grant to move generators did not result in generators being moved. I know that I would not be able to know who were employees of my management company. Doesn't sound like where I'd want to live, or a management company who I would like running my property. What in 2020 reduces those problems? Here's your plan: Newer bigger shinier buildings, and more people in them. Don't replace management, and don't change the policies which have allowed problems to arise. Try to get people to live where 80% of their neighbors pay less than they do. Here's an alternate plan. Find everyone in affordable housing throughout Hoboken who makes more than $75,000 per year, or owns other property worth more than $150,000. Give them 90 days to move. Allow the great people of the HHA to move to some nicer housing. After you have done that, take a count of how many people are still in the HHA. Build properties with an appropriate density for these people, where they don't need to get into urine soaked elevators or walk past a meth lab to get to their home. Allow some of the displaced folks to rent some of the market units. So where is my care for living conditions lacking?
peterbelfiore June 24, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Puzzle, 90 days, I see and after we clear the affordable housing units do you suggest we apply the same cure to all illegal aliens living in America.The mainstreaming of moderate income is HUD's solution to decentralize poverty teaching better social skills to residents. My solution is less onerous, build new replacement units at no cost to taxpayers. Draconian measures never fare well in court. Perry
puzzledone June 26, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Perry, giving low rent housing to Mercedes drivers with beach houses was never the intent. Taxpayers will face costs in federal tax dollars, as well as servicing the community through construction and additional bodies in the HHA. Your solution fails to solve overcrowding, crime, and segregation issues in any meaningful way, it's a fresh coat of paint on the problem. People deserve more than that. And urine proof elevator floors show a need for more than just social skills before others move in to a market rate apartment. And how do we know there is no birdsall type pay to play at issue here. We know that one politician who accepted dirty money is at the forefront of calling for 2020, over and over and over again.

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