I wish to thank and applaud the Reform contingent of the Hoboken Housing Authority Board of Commissioners – David Mello, Judy Burrell and Greg Lincoln – for their strong and unified opposition to Executive Director Carmelo Garcia and Chairman Rob Davis’ improper attempt to ram the ethically challenged general counsel’s contract down the board’s throat for a fifth time.
The attorney, Charles Daglian, has acted questioably and sidestepped his objectivity in favor of functioning as what I would call a private consigliere to Director Garcia. In February, an outside legal opinion from Hoboken Corporation Counsel Mellissa Longo and an independent evaluation by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development strongly criticized Daglian’s conduct at a Feb. 7 board meeting. The HUD memo deemed his conduct “self-serving and may also violate the attorney’s code of ethics.” A section of HUD’s evaluation headlined “Perceived impropriety of current general counsel” stated “the matter is of great concern to us because it raises suspicions that undermine the integrity of the procurement process.”
The alarming HUD statements should have created at least one issue all board members could agree on, that continued employment of Daglian would be inappropriate and fiduciarily irresponsible. However, at the May meeting, Garcia again exercised his uncommonly unilateral appointing authority and submitted Daglian’s contract for another vote, and Vice Chairman Gonzalez, Chairman Davis and Commissioner Rodriguez apparently placed political loyalties above proper procedures and voted for Daglian’s renewal. The resolution failed 3-3, yet in an extraordinarily novel and subjective interpretation of the law, Garcia and Davis opted to interpret the tie vote as something other than a failure of the resolution, putting the contract before the board yet again this month without an RFQ, to another failure.
Ruben Ramos running-mate Gonzalez needs to determine whether his political ambitions should be served at the expense of responsible HHA oversight. Helping Director Garcia fight for an attorney who has lost the board majority’s trust and aroused HUD’s suspicions is indefensible. Similarly, Gonzalez’s vote to suppress the Corporation Counsel memo critical of Garcia, Daglian and the procurement process, and his public attempt to discredit me as having somehow done something improper by releasing the critical HUD memo to the press, are the actions of a commissioner who knows there may be something to hide that could impact his ticket’s political credibility.
I’m proud to say the Reform board majority stands united in its effort to bring transparency and accountability to the HHA. Over the past several weeks, political opportunists have pandered and grandstanded in support of the controversial “Vision 20/20” plan to expand the HHA. The board majority remains committed to the idea that while the residents most certainly deserve safe and comfortable housing, the first step to meeting that goal is to provide accountable and dedicated management whose mission is optimal facilities maintenance rather than pursuit of the next rung on the political ladder, working alongside a trustworthy general counsel who the board respects as a defender of the agency’s interests and not a personal political hack.
Hoboken Housing Authority
Board of Commissioners