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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 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.

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."

DaHorsey, SmartyJones of MSV February 21, 2013 at 05:19 AM
As noted in the link at the top of the comments, much of the actual details putting aside the misinformation and nasty personal attacks by the embittered Masonista political operatives (and their pop up names) was available since yesterday. Commissioner Lincoln was quoted yesterday: “Additionally, Director Garcia wrongfully asserted that failing to reappoint Mr. Daglian might even be a criminal act. I now understand that not to be the case, and am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism and integrity that was displayed at the special meeting. I plan to support an effort to amend the HHA procurement policy as soon as possible.” Full original details of the complete factual information available: http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2013/02/hha-chair-city-attorney-rules-hha-board.html
FAP February 21, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Presumably once Mr.Lincoln discovered that Daglian acted improperly at the meeting he let people know his opinion on Daglian being fit to serve the board further.
puzzledone February 21, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Good. In that case, there should be no issues with replacing legal counsel and auditors, and reviewing contracts and bidding processes. Mr. Garcia should gladly serve with whomever the board feels is most qualified, after all, there are no problems. My only question is, if there is nothing to worry about, why does it look so much like a coverup?
InfotainMe February 21, 2013 at 12:02 PM
The attorney created a contract for the ED with automatic salary increases, indicating that through time in office, the ED's value automatically rises. But the attorney low-balled his own contract, indicating that through time in office, the attorney's value declines?
puzzledone February 21, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Here's the fraud red flags that I see: Lack of segregation of duties in the vulnerable area (Will not allow for an executive director) Management decisions are dominated by an individual or small group Managers display significant disrespect for regulatory bodies There is a weak internal control environment Decentralization without adequate monitoring Any financial transaction that doesn’t make sense - either common or business Service Contracts result in no product Photocopied or missing documents Easily annoyed at reasonable questioning Increasing number of complaints about products or service (fire safety) Rumors of conflicts of interest Frequent use of sole-source procurement contracts (That's Carmelo's contract, apparently) http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/red_flags_fraud.pdf Given that there are more than a few red flags at play here, along with what looks like opportunity (a friendly board) and rationalization (there were some others who were getting away with stuff), I believe that Carmelo and Prosbus should be begging for a new auditor and counsel not appointed by Carmelo. Once they get a clean bill of health, everyone should be happy to move forward with 20/20.
demosthenes February 21, 2013 at 01:22 PM
Perhaps Stuiver knows how Lincoln would vote because that's what Lincoln said in the release that Patch didn't post but MSV did? Anyway when you imply there's something inappropriate about two board members talking to each other your actually implying that you're clueless about what's appropriate and what's not. Your sides should really be more careful about calling for investigations. Sometimes your wish will come true and then you're truly screwed. Somehow I don't think a HUD or an inspector general investigation into Carmelo Garcia's procurement practices is high on his wish list so maybe you should check with him before trying to "help" him.
Ojo Rojo February 21, 2013 at 01:39 PM
There is nothing trumped up about the state of the HHA. Trumped up stuff doesn't get the FD to slap the HHA with all sorts of violations or have the chief show up at a board meeting to inform the board that 6 buildings have no working fire protection systems despite there being a contract in place for a vendor to do the work. But I agree with you on the state and federal oversight. Bring in the feds. Let them audit the books and let them pour through every scrap of paper and ever decision made over the last few years. That would make me personally happy. I doubt the director would feel the same way however.
Ojo Rojo February 21, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Lincoln is quoted in at least one report stating he would not vote for the guy. Perhaps unlike you Stuiver can read and he read that quote?
demosthenes February 21, 2013 at 04:16 PM
My favorite: "Daglian, reached on the phone on Wednesday afternoon, said he disagreed with that opinion, but wouldn't comment on the situation further." I can't wait to see his legal memo citing actual legal authorities to the effect that he didn't have a conflict. Hopefully he'll be prepared with a better answer during the likely disciplinary hearing before the bar association. Maybe he'll "disagree" with their decision as well. This is not a gray area Claire. It's legal ethics 101.
peterbelfiore February 21, 2013 at 04:56 PM
All HUD will be the final arbiter on award of the contract for legal representation at HHA. Corporation counsel may be retained as legal representation for the HHA, but given that the HHA has representation, the conflicted city attorney’s opinion is moot. Has anyone asked Melissa who gave permission to issue an opinion on behalf of the Zimmer Administration. And talk about a coincidence, shouldn't the focus be on Zimmer's attempt to increase Florio Perucci et al, municipal contract by $25,000, 2 weeks after the firm was denied a $60,000 contract by the HHA. The one thing all Zimmer appointees agree upon is that Florio Perucci may be the highest bidder, but boy, they are comfortable! LOL Perry
demosthenes February 21, 2013 at 06:43 PM
For a former HHA commissioner you seem surprisingly ill informed about the role of HUD. And for a man who loves to talk about conflicts and ethics you seem pretty ill informed about that as well. 1. HUD has no jurisdiction over issues of State law. If Mr. Daglian's appointment is void due to state law issues, as frankly pretty much any New Jersey lawyer will tell you is the case since this isn't remotely a close call, HUD can't make that issue go away and isn't likely to try. 2. The City lawyer has no conflict just by virtue of being the city lawyer - quite the contrary since the law specifically permits the representation. 3. Claiming the city lawyer's opinuion is moot because of a non-existent conflict while saying the HHA already has representation in the form of the lawyer who is advocating for his own conflict kind of makes you sound like an imbecile. HUD will not be coming to your boy's rescue big boy. But you'll still have beautiful hair and that's important. Demo
peterbelfiore February 21, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Nancy, What you don't know about HUD can fill oceans. It is HUD's money. HUD controls all PHAs. The decision on the attorney will be rendered by HUD. Take that from someone who fought long and hard to reform the HHA. Wait a couple of days. As to the city lawyer not have a conflict, don't make me laugh. Does she always take Jake's phone calls and work pro bono. Please as Longo does the administration bidding she will have a job. Perry
Ojo Rojo February 21, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Wait, are you saying b/c the city lawyer working for the city under a valid contract has a conflict b/c the city lawyer as allowed by law gave Jake some legal advice? And in the same breath you are also saying the HHA lawyer when giving legal advice on his own contract or future lack of a contract w/ the HHA isn't conflicted when he does that? Do you see how your positions are inherently contradictory?
peterbelfiore February 21, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Ojo, What I am saying is HUD will decide if the lowest bidder with rating and ranking matrices should be appointed or a city attorney solicited by Jake, interviewed in secret by Jake's select committee on procurement, and recommend for award sans any objective evaluation, save comfort, by Jake's select committee on procurement. I understnd Longo not wishing to make room for Zimmer's 4th corpoation counsel . Perry
pdq February 22, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Mr. Belfiore, If the vote for daglian was rendered moot. Wouldn't that suggest that he has no contract with the HHA? If there is no contract, wouldn't the board need to vote on a contract for an attorney? Isn't it standard practice for boards to vote for attorney contracts? or Does HUD always vote on all attorney contracts?
pdq February 22, 2013 at 12:18 PM
With all of the choices of attorneys (bidding for jobs), why would you want an attorney who has displayed conflict of interest issues, working for the HHA ?
Ojo Rojo February 22, 2013 at 01:07 PM
HUD is far more likely to send investigators than do what you suggest. Investigating Housing Authorities is kind of the in fashion thing for the Feds, haven't you heard?
peterbelfiore February 22, 2013 at 05:30 PM
All, I certainly hope HUD investigates the solicitation and procurement practices of Jake's Select Committee of Procurement for it's total lack of transparency. PDQ the process for selecting legal services is as follows; RFP issued, RFP rated and ranked by professional of the HHA, Award. Documentation of the matrices of the rating and ranking committee, unlike the city , supplied to the board. Additionally, a commissioner may sit on the rating and ranking committee, but would be conflicted from voting. A sitting professional just like a sitting board member stays as holdover until removed or replaced. HUD does not usually intervene in a transparent above board process. Safe to say this process has been anything but. At the meeting it was disgourged that HUD had asked for all documentation concerning the selection process. Perry
DaHorsey, SmartyJones of MSV February 22, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Perry, it's nice to you see you chiming in here with your unique perspective but more importantly congratulations on the announcement of Ruben Ramos and the council slate yesterday. On the role of HUD, NJ law and scoring on procurement, I think you are mixing up your hopes in an outcome you will not see. Carmelo Garcia can score the vendors on criteria he likes but it matters no with the conflicts occurring that evening. MSV took that position the next day and sees more reasons that determination was correct. The HHA chair has every right to seek outside counsel's legal opinion and in this case the legal avenue is actually the City's Corporation Counsel. Surprised you seem so unaware of that. We'll see how those details sort out no doubt. Have a nice weekend.
DaHorsey, SmartyJones of MSV February 22, 2013 at 05:58 PM
"matter not"
demosthenes February 22, 2013 at 06:02 PM
If only we lived in Perry's imaginary world instead of this "South Africa kind of situation" in which Perry must continually search for his new "plan B." Here in the real world, HUD is not riding to Garcia and Daglian's rescue, and they are certainly not going to overrule corporation counsel on an issue of State law, something my lawyer friends, one of whom spent years working for HUD in DC, tell me is completely outside their legal jurisdiction. But dream on Perry. I dream about your hair, I guess you need to have something beautiful to dream about too. But please don't use words like "disgourged." Thoughts of puking are really distracting while I'm dreaming about running my fingers through those magical locks. Demo
recallbethmason February 22, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Perry, I am sure you are a nice enough guy and your communication is very cordial and polite but as an outsider looking from afar, this situation looks suspicious at best? Clearly you must realize there are alot of people who now live in hoboken who have white collar jobs and are required in our work place to have very high ethical standards. Accordingly, we expect even higher ethical standards from our elected and non-elected officials who hold municipal jobs in representing the people of hoboken. Keeping that in mind, Carmelo Garcia seems tainted at best. why is he so against a new lawyer? To an educated person, this sets off alarm bells that something is not exactly right. why exactly is he fighting this so hard? over $15k? really? The more he argues the more people believe he is hiding something and the more we will demand that action be taken accordingly to determine what exactly is going on here?
BruceD February 22, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Perry Plan B I am sure that a lot will be "disgourged" before the dust settles. Please tell us that you have no economic interest in any contract or service agreement related to the HAA.
puzzledone February 22, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I'm very confused. While what you are saying the process should be makes sense, it bears no resemblance to what happened with the appointment of Charles Daglian. At what point was the RFP rated and ranked by professional of the HHA? Who does the awarding? If a commissioner would be conflicted, than how can a professional at the HHA have review and sole appointing authority.
pdq February 22, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Interesting, Perry. Seems very diluted though. SImply speaking: If there is no valid contract for an attorney, won't there need to be a vote for one? Do the HHA commisioners vote on attorney appointments? WHy would HUD have anything to do with a basic vote. Like you, I would love to see HUD investigate the HHA.
peterbelfiore February 23, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Hey Recall, pdq,demo, daHorsey, Since the meeting wasn't televised let me catch everyone up. HUD issued a directive to send all source materials to it's Newark for evalution and though Jake and Crmelo were talking over each other, HUD may have barred action on the Florio contract. "Recal" ,he like most of us, is against award to the highest bidder who was selected in secret using comfort as the criterion. Why aren't you? ""Nancy/Demo" this has happened before you found Jugde D'Itlia ruling.The low bidder assuming all other factors equal gets the contract. I fought this fight. "pdq" the commissioners do vote on the contract, but as stated above, the award is based on the objective outcome of rating and ranking scoring not the more subjective; comfort. TTFN. Perry
demosthenes February 23, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Hey Perry, Quick question - did Judge D'italia work for HUD? Or did he work for the Hudson County Superior Court? Because it sounds like your attempt at whatever you consider to be "reform" was slapped down based on your violation of state law not by HUD. If Mr. D'aglian wishes to bring a lawsuit before the Hudson County Superior Court and explain why he feels he had no conflict and why he got Roberts Rules all wrong accidentally or on purpose, it is of course his right to do that. My legal beagles tell me that would be extremely unwise but I personally hope he does it. Of course I'm just looking for entertaining material and reporting on Mr. Daglian being reprimanded by a judge would certainly be entertaining.
Grafix Avenger February 23, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Perry, you silver-haired minx, you... I came here just for you! I heard you are calling me 'Demo', and I can see that I have competition in my lust for your opossom-like dreamy-do. God, it's beautiful. Listen, my rug got damaged in the flood- mind if I borrow yours? (Oh, I kid... you've got better locks than 624 Washington Street.) I am flattered. Demo is one of my fave posters. But he/she addresses you a bit more sharply than I do/would, don't you think? You are my favorite Dark Side guy. Intelligent, great vocabulary and hair like Apollo. And you're not a schmuck. To your point above (speaking for myself- no mistaken identities)- I am sure what I don't know about the HHA could fill oceans, but when a rotten fish stinks up the room, just follow your nose and you'll find it. Hands off, Demo. I
Grafix Avenger February 24, 2013 at 12:29 AM
No, no, no. I (italicized) dream about his hair. You can only wish (italicized) you could run your fingers through those locks- they're soft as butter (but not greasy.)
pdq February 24, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Just curious, how do you think HUD will evaluate the contract of an attorney who violated conflict of interest? Florio contract? There is no contract for an attorney named Florio.

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