Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chaos and confusion reigns at HHA meeting ending in possible illegal attorney reappointment

Series of votes and confusion on appointing powers leads to questionable 4-3 attorney reappointment

In a chaotic and tumultuous meeting of the Hoboken Housing Authority, confusion on the governing authority to appoint local counsel ended in a first thought deadlock when HHA commissioner Greg Lincoln voted against a contract for the law firm Florio Perricci Steinhardt & Fader.

Much later in the meeting, Lincoln would vote across the board's existing lines to reappoint HHA attorney Charlie Daglian.

The 4-3 vote came with a resurrected motion to reconsider likely acted on illegally with motions by HHA commissioners Eduardo Gonzalez and Jeannie Rodriguez.  In order to execute a legal motion to reconsider, it must be made by a board member who voted in the negative on the matter prior.

Daglian's reappointment had been tabled early in the meeting in an extremely contentious disagreement between Executive Director Carmelo Garcia and Chairman Jake Stuiver.  Garcia would claim an email he obtained from local HUD officials made any vote other than for current board attorney Daglian "criminal and unethical."

A vote later followed with a convoluted and confusing discussion on who held appointing powers, the Executive Director or the HHA's board.

The public portion at the end of the meeting would be interrupted with another vote likely improper to reconsider before the questionable vote reappointing HHA attorney Charlie Daglian.

Greg Lincoln reading a handbook at the meeting earlier on the responsibilities of commissioners would read aloud a section stating the board was the appointing authority.  Attorney Charlie Daglian handed Garica a copy of his contract pointing to a clause he read claiming he held the authority.    

Daglian would answer questions from the commissioners stating Garcia's contract was the guiding federal law and the board fell into line in advice and consent.  Garcia's contract repeatedly requested by Stuiver to view quickly found its way into board attorney Daglian's personal bag.  (The contract has been a mystery for a long time with no board member able to obtain it although Garcia claimed to Stuiver's inquiry copies would be made available.)

Greg Lincoln in the first shocking vote of the night accepted the board attorney's argument and began the decisive vote for Florio by voting no killing any chance of passage.  The Florio appointment failed in a 4-2 vote.  Voting yes: Dave Mello, Jake Stuiver.  Voting no: Greg Lincoln, Judy Burrell, Eduardo Gonzalez and Jeannie Rodriguez.

That unexpected vote outcome didn't end there.

A later vote to reconsider bringing back Daglian's contract would occur twice, once in undoing the earlier successful motion to table. It's unclear if that is legal as the HHA bylaws are not available. Garcia has not provided them to the board and that issue would come up with a complaint from Stuiver on that point.

HHA commissioner Rob Davis who tried unsuccessfully to participate by phone would make a surprise arrival during public portion late in the meeting and yet another vote would take place with a questionable vote to reconsider.  It's a little unclear who made the initial motion but HHA commissioner Eduardo Gonzalez and Jeannie Rodriguez are believed to have put forward the motions.  

Again in another surprise, Greg Lincoln would make the decisive vote in the possibly illegal reappointment in a 4-3 vote.

The vote came in a circus atmosphere with police stationed throughout the room struggling to maintain basic order and decorum throughout.

Here's the first vote where the stunning series of events began with Florio going down 4-2.


Talking Ed Note: Maybe the most ugly, unruly and bizarre meeting ever attended in Hoboken.
Something is most definitely rotten in Denmark.  

Out of the gate a visibly tense Executive Director Carmelo Garcia issued an order that the camera for MSV be moved from six feet to the left of the room to the right side repeatedly claiming the presence of Da Horsey was a "distraction."

Da Horsey made like a donkey and didn't budge.

More on this and the wilting reform votes later.

Correction: The Executive Director told the commissioners voting to approve the Florio resolution was against HUD procedure.  He would describe a vote in favor of that resolution and against his resolution for Charles Daglian "criminal and unethical," not illegal and unethical.

Garcia also stated voting against his selection would make the commissioners "liable."

MSV will post more unedited video from the meeting.