Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Grist for the Mill: Carmelo million dollar back door payoff through the HHA?

MSV EXCLUSIVE GRIST FOR THE MILL - MILLION DOLLAR GARCIA PAYOFF?



While the Ravi-Russo deal exclusively reported here last week generated most of the recent heat in Hoboken, now comes word of an almost seven figure payoff to Carmelo Garcia being prepared through the back door using the Hoboken Housing Authority.

The HHA is the federal housing agency in town left in financial straits after Garcia had seen the remainder of his contract as Executive Director of the agency terminated in August 2013. The agency as the City, the HHA board members, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Stan Grossbard and former HHA chair Jake Stuiver were all named defendants in the Garcia civil lawsuit.

Sources say a possible major payout in the form of a settlement may be up for a vote through the agency's board of commissioners. This even before Stan Grossbard, husband of the Mayor Zimmer was spotted by witnesses the other day walking with one of the HHA commissioners who was doing "a lot of listening."

Speculation of a possible settlement are rife as are the possible reasons. Grossbard's emails with former HHA chair Jake Stuiver are reportedly a concern among others for any rumored major payout.

In 2015, the Observer reported those emails obtained in discovery could be problematic where Grossbard discussed termination of Garcia's contract required before seeing the HHA procurement process reformed.

Carmelo Garcia who saw his initial 2013 civil complaint thrown out of court and the second mostly tossed may be back from the grave even while facing legal counterclaims of his own. The HHA had filed a detailed civil lawsuit against Garcia. Those allegations unlike Garcia's were specific and pointed to millions allegedly handed out in unapproved contracts to vendors who later made political contributions to his campaign coffers.

Who is proposed to pay the tab for this rumored settlement? Why it's the federal housing agency financially wrecked, the Hoboken Housing Authority. While Mayor Zimmer and the City of Hoboken were also named in the civil lawsuit, an exchange to clear the way releasing her, her husband and the City of Hoboken may all be part of the final mix.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her husband Stan Grossbard at a recent
City Council meeting are both named in the years long Carmelo Garcia
civil lawsuit. Is there a plan to use the HHA to make it go away?

The HHA consists of a seven member board of commissioners who could be asked to vote on a Garcia settlement. Among its more recent newly approved members: Barbara Reyes. It was Reyes, who spearhead the Carmelitos, a band of residents who would show up and raise a ruckus on his behalf. Last summer the City Council approved her to a seat on the HHA board after repeatedly voting down earlier attempts by Garcia to have her installed. Reyes also appeared as a deposed witness in testimony supporting Mister Carmelo while other HHA residents balked at doing so when they learned of the financial shenanigans uncovered after his departure.

Another member of the seven member board may already be lined up to vote for approval.  Earlier rumors said this HHA commissioner was promised a job by the incoming Administration before the November election. Will this board member recuse themselves voluntarily?

Another member of the earlier HHA board who voted to terminate the remainder of Carmelo Garcia's contract at the HHA is Councilman Dave Mello. Will the board attorney advise he not vote due to a personal conflict of interest having been named in the lawsuit? James Sanford among others may face a similar dilemma in participation.

Can someone give a shout out to HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson? His agency may be about to be walloped for almost a cool million.

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. Got a tasty carrot for the Horsey? Send it to smartyjones@me.com. All email is kept confidential and is protected by Da Horsey's proven Reporter Privilege upheld under the NJ Shield Law in Hudson County Superior Court. In farm animals we trust.