MILE SQUARE VIEW BREAKING NEWS
HHA ED Carmelo Garcia to attempt another power grab to use HHA Board's check signing authority at special meeting
Chairwoman Dana Wefer commented on the recent issue of checks issued in the HHA and the problems created by HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia. It's been moved here to a more prominent position for the public.
I know there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what is going on with the checks at the HHA, so I hope that this comment will clarify what is going on and the steps the Board is taking, and has taken, to rectify this situation.
When the Board reorganized in May and I was elected Chair, we should have been presented with a resolution to change the signatories on the HHA's accounts. However, the Executive Director did not present such a resolution to us in May.
In June, the Director put a resolution on our agenda concerning the signatories on the accounts. However, that resolution provided that the bank would honor all checks "regardless of by whom or by what means the above facsimile signature(s) thereon may have been affixed thereto." There was no dollar limit on the checks that could use facsimile signatures. In addition, the entire resolution concerned only facsimile signatures. Commissioner Mello and I were uncomfortable giving carte blanche to the Director to affix our signatures to any and all checks. At the meeting, we asked Mr. Wenzel, the attorney, if we could amend the Resolution to get rid of the troubling language. He advised that the resolution was so riddled with the word "facsimile" that the best route would be to vote on an entirely new resolution. The Director had left the meeting early, so the Board was not able to ask him questions about the resolution. Accordingly, the Board tabled the Resolu tion.
The very next morning, June 13th, I emailed the Director and asked him for: 1) prior HHA resolutions concerning bank signatories and 2) for the contact information of our account executive at PNC. He did not respond with that information. I followed up on this request in writing on June 17th and again on June 19th. On June 20th, I drafted an email to the Director, and copied the entire Board, concerning the fact that he had failed to respond to any my requests for information so that we could move forward and that we needed to call a Special Meeting to deal with this issue.
At that point, he finally responded with the PNC bank rep's information, but he still has not provided any prior resolutions. Requests to the Director to forward the email where PNC originally sent the Resolution and all other correspondence with PNC has gone unanswered. The Director informed the Board that all of his contact with PNC has been over the phone. PNC has refused to discuss the matter with me thus far because I am not part of the "business structure."
Late Friday I received a phone call from the Hoboken Reporter saying that they had received a press release issued by Teamsters Local 97. The press release apparently stated that the Director had told them that I was holding the checks. I don't know if the bank accounts have been frozen. If that is the case, the Board has not been informed. It is difficult to imagine why the bank accounts would be frozen for nonpayment just a week after the Board had approved payment.
I am in possession of the checks. In my capacity as a volunteer Board member, I analyzed and signed several hundred checks in 6 days. Last Thursday I emailed the Director and told him that the checks were ready to be picked up and asking for clarifications on a few checks. I emailed the Director again on Friday telling him the checks were ready for pick up. He has not even acknowledged that I said the checks are ready.
I'm flabbergasted at what is happening with the check and bills at the HHA. I reached out to the Director all last week so we could work towards resolving this situation and I have gone above and beyond trying to reach out to the Bank and get a template resolution so we can move forward. Though the Director is now on vacation, we are working to put together a Special Meeting so we can change the bank signatories. Unfortunately, the Director has written to the Board and informed them that he will present the same resolution at the Special Meeting, which would give him carte blanche to use my and Commissioner Mello's signatures on checks. I have asked Mr. Daglian to draft a resolution that would not authorize the Director to use our facsimile signatures on all checks.
That is where we stand now. I and other members of the Board are working hard on getting this situation resolved, but it's been difficult. We will endeavor to keep the public, HHA employees, and HHA vendors apprised of what's going on as it unfolds.