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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

Pops June 21, 2013 at 03:40 PM
"The facts speak for themselves." Yes, they most certainly do. And they are not in your favor. As light is cast on HHA operations and management, the people of Hoboken are starting to see and question what is really going on there and demanding a new level of fairness and openness. The ONLY objective is that all future plans be out in the open, reviewed, researched, debated and refined by all parties, including tax payers. Hiding behind the bogus "us against them" argument is both unwarranted and counterproductive. BTW, nice letter, Carmelo.
HudsonStreet June 21, 2013 at 03:40 PM
The perception of impropriety still exists between Mr. Daglian and ED Carmelo Garcia and the standard excuse of disrespect will not change that fact. Many people see that Mr Davis who was recently installed by Mr. Garcia's as his proxy and his writing of this letter to defend him reinforces that perception. It is time for a paradigm shift in the HHA management and for Mr. Garcia to concentrate on his new position as Assemblyman.
recallbethmason June 21, 2013 at 04:20 PM
what i find so interesting about this letter is it indicates an objective by mayor zimmer? you never go into any detail as to what she would accomplish? honestly your letter makes no sense? what does make sense is there has been no accountability at the HHA and that now the people of hoboken are aware of what is going on and we will not allow the vision 20/20 project to move forward without understanding the specific plans and how they will impact hoboken. end of story. to play the class warfare card is ridiculous and unprofessional and will get you nowhere with the rest of the hoboken population in getting this project moving forward.
Bokenlvr June 21, 2013 at 04:41 PM
This is not true - the residents are opening their eyes - what a laugh - $40 please ... who is this kimmy? another plant?
Ojo Rojo June 21, 2013 at 05:31 PM
And how about a list of employees, their compensation and job responsibilities? Why is it basic information like this is not provided to the board? What are you people hiding over there and why are you hiding it?
Ojo Rojo June 21, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Have your voices heard on what? There is no plan. The only thing so far that has been ever asked of the city is to approve the PILOT for the overflow building but nobody needs an overflow building until they start on stages 2-10 of the 20/20 plan. That is what we all want to see before approving anything. So do us a favor and demand Carmelo Garcia release the entire 20/20 plan, all the exhibits, all the financial projections including how much in PILOTs they plan on asking for and everything else they are hiding in the basement that people have been asking for. Then we can talk about your 20/20 plan once we all finally get a good long look at it. Until then, I hope it goes nowhere because no plan that is so bad the HHA needs to hide it from the public should ever be approved.
demosthenes June 21, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Perhaps the Commissioner who voted no on Daglian's contract for the fifth time without reading yet another proposal felt reading it wasn't necessary since HUD had sent a letter detailing Daglian's unethical conduct and all but accused Garcia and Daglian if illegally trying to steer the contract to Daglian. Perhaps he and the other reform Commissioners felt that this by itself was enough to disqualify Mr. Daglian from consideration. I wonder if Mr. Davis has even bothered to read the HUD letter. Something tells me he hasn't. But of course he didn't write this letter either. The inarticulate prattle of Mr. Garcia's writing style is pretty unmistakable.
Ojo Rojo June 21, 2013 at 06:39 PM
It most definitely will be time to make sure the HHA board knows on a daily basis where exactly Carmelo is during every minute of the day during office hours Monday through Friday if he becomes an assemblyman. The HHA doesn't pay him to be in Trenton and if he wants to be there during office hours then they should find someone who else who wants to work here in Hoboken.
BruceD June 21, 2013 at 06:40 PM
No way he wrote this letter.
DaHorsey, SmartyJones of MSV June 21, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Regarding this line: "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." Rob Davis was not on any such committee. That RFP "committee" consisted of Carmelo Garcia and HHA employees under his thumb. OOPS! Carmelo needs a new editor. A commissioner doesn't need to come up with a new reason after numerous votes on the same legal counsel. A damning piece of objective evidence which should have given pause to every commissioner was the HUD memo calling Daglian's vote "legally flawed" with strong concerns on those involved in the process, re: Carmelo Garcia. This isn't about reform, this is basic managerial oversight 101 and one Mr. Davis and all HHA commissioners should give consideration. http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2013/03/hud-slams-hha-procurement-process-call.html
puzzledone June 21, 2013 at 07:49 PM
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. Yes...Jake Stuiver is politicizing the HHA...And by the way..."best advantageous for the"? It's like an open attempt to add more words and say less.
HudsonStreet June 21, 2013 at 08:36 PM
Carmelo Garcia has politcized the HHA even before he was on the HHA payroll when then Mayor Robers disregarded the selection process and appointed him for pure political reasons. It is highly disingenuous for Mr Garcia and his supporters to claim others have introduced politics into the HHA.
cassandra June 21, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Reform elitism, possibly racism at play
BruceD June 21, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Projection, much?
peterbelfiore June 22, 2013 at 12:05 AM
I would like to pose the same question to absentee Commissioner Stuiver on this thread, that remains unanswered on Jake's letter's thread. It is a simple question. Jake did you ever vote against Vision 20/20 while in the minority? Perry
DaHorsey, SmartyJones of MSV June 22, 2013 at 01:43 AM
Yes Perry, I was at the meeting when the last vote taken on Vision 20/20 happened and Jake Stuiver voted "no" and he was in the minority. As it turns out, his concerns are reaching citywide. There's going to be a rigorous public process and no back room deals may survive. It's so sad.
puzzledone June 22, 2013 at 01:57 AM
cassandra, Mr. Davis is caucasion. How would a statement that he didn't write this letter possibly be racist? Also, any thoughts on the fact that he referenced being on a committee that he in fact was not on in his letter? Given the way this letter has been written, citing a vast conspiracy to do something which isn't really explained, and talking about hurricane proofing the projects when Carmelo was unable to move generators when he had money earmarked for it shows how the residents are being taken advantage of by HHA leadership, and that's about as racist and elitist as it gets.
Ojo Rojo June 22, 2013 at 03:25 AM
Here is a question for Perry and all the 20/20 supporters. Where exactly is the complete plan for the entire 17 acre complex with how many millions or tens of millions in PILOTs the HHA is going to ask for, how many units does the plan add to the complex, how the project will be funded, who will own the buildings and how many HHA, middle class and full market value units the HHA plans on building? Where is the complete unedited plan and why isn't the entire plan public? What is Carmelo hiding and what is he so afraid of us finding out? And why are some of you people so scared to share that plan you fight so hard for with the public? It must be real bad for you to get so defensive about a plan that hasn't even been released for the whole city to see. By the way, we all know why you and some others dislike Jake. It isn't because he is in PA. You dislike the guy because he is perhaps the most financially astute person on the HHA board and he is asking all the uncomfortable questions nobody asked for so long. The more people in the know refuse to answer those questions, the more people like Jake will ask them and the more severe our reaction will be when the answers some people want hidden finally do become known. Enjoy the blowback when those answers do become known.
peterbelfiore June 22, 2013 at 12:39 PM
Roman, Please allow Jake to answer. Jake, did you ever vote against Vision 20/20 while a member of the minority? Perry
Ojo Rojo June 23, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Perry, when did the entire 20/20 plan ever come up for a vote? Show me where it has even ever been fully released to the public? And yes, It was reported on more than a few sites including Patch that Jake voted against Phase 1 of the 20/20 plan which is the only part of the plan that has ever come up for a vote.
Duroy, Lies & Paterson scandals June 23, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Perry, this is an exchange about a lawyer's contract. Why all the non sequitur obsession with Vision 20/20? You've been off the HHA for many years now. Your political relevance has diminished to the level of distant-third also-ran in the last 5th ward council race while your own friends laughed at you and backed shiny-guy. What is it about Vision 20/20 that has you so hot and bothered? Skip the obligatory "because I'm a man of the people" hilarity and answer the question. What's in it for you? Do you have any undisclosed personal upside to the development of Vision 20/20? Are you expecting any sort of potential personal remunerative benefits resulting from the approval of this project? Are you excited about the prospect of expanding a political base? Something else? Please answer the question, Perry. What's in it for you?
HudsonStreet June 23, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Prime example of calling yourself a reformer does not make you a reformer is Beth Mason.
peterbelfiore June 24, 2013 at 02:53 AM
DLPS, Better livings conditions for people. What is the basis of your opposition. Perry
Duroy, Lies & Paterson scandals June 24, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Perry, That's an odd question given that I did not express a position one way or the other, I simply pointed out that there are two letters debating an attorney's contract and you seem to be trying to hijack both threads to talk about a development project that only gets passing mentions in both letters. So I thought you seemed a little obsessed, especially given the frequency and ferocity of your public tirades on that topic recently. If you say you are simply concerned about better living conditions for people, I think that's a great thing. I hope you can persuade your friend Mr. Garcia to give up one or two of his four jobs and counting to focus on providing better living conditions for people. If you are breaking from your past and expect no personal remunerative benefits from your political activities, I think that is a great thing, Perry, and I sincerely hope it's true. I applaud you for your newfound altruism and propose a toast to new leaves turned over. DLPS
peterbelfiore June 24, 2013 at 01:00 PM
Dear DLPS, Personal attacks aside I asked a pointed question of Jake. You decided that spewing bile was more productive than allowing Jake to answer a simple question. Jake while you were in the minority, that is before the appointment of Mello and Lincoln, did you ever vote against Vision 20/20. The question is for Jake and JakeI am waiting.
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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