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Recycling bins - question - BP Sep 09, 2007


3 of our BMs say reg trash bins can be any color but the recycling bins must be "recycle blue". 2 BMs say they only need labels showing what to recycle. We called the city 2x. Both times they just said recycling is the law and you must display recycling info. (I hate dealing with city offices.)

Our new svc area colors are tan/dark green/burgundy. Rows of bold blue bins will be an ugly contrast. The 3 BMs will concede if someone tells us we won't break the law by not having blue. Our prop mgr did but they think he's wrong.

This should be the biggest problem a coop has, right? Will someone pls confirm that we won't get 5 to 10 up the river if we don't have blue recycling bins so I can enlighten the 3 BMs? (all newbies, in their first year).

Ugh, thanks.


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Totally lost here. Can you try to explain again what your question was. I lost you after the first few words typed.

FN.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


Sorry, FN, if I wasn't clear.

We're redoing the service areas our residents use - trash room, laundry, storage. They're in the same general place off the lobby which is tan, dark green and burgundy. We're painting the service areas these same colors so there's some "continuity" with the lobby.

We're getting new bins (10) for our trash room. 3 BMs say they must be blue for recyclables - the blue you often see on bins with a white "recycle" symbol. Rubbermaid makes a lot of them. Our SHs are very picky about having everything coordinated. Since the trash room walls/floors/doors will be the same colors as the lobby (and other bldg areas) some of us think bold, blue bins will look ugly/loud in an area that's tan, dark green and burgundy.

3 BMs say the law requires blue bins for recyclables. The rest of us say it doesn't require blue. They'll concede if someone else will agree with us on this.

So, my question was - do bins (containers) have to be blue for recyclables or not?

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BP. As long as the containers are not going out on to the street they can be any color you want them to be, As long as the correct color sticker is displayed on the can and that you use clear bags in the cans (both cans) for the disposal of contents.

If the cans are going out to the street then they need to be either one blue and one green with the proper stickers or both blue with the proper stickers.
Also not that recycled areas much have a sticker either on the door or above each recycle area. Directions must also be placed above the cans, along with pick up times.

Pgrech
VP, Superintendents Technical Assoc.

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You gave me the answer I was looking for - also some info I didn't know. Our super handles the trash pretty well so we assumed he knows what he's doing. You said you're supposed to use clear bags for recyclables. He uses blue bags for glass, paper, cardboard, magazines, all of it, and he uses clear bags for regular trash. Surprised we haven't gotten any Sanitation Dept. violations for that. We'll have to set him straight on this. Thanks again.

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What I did in my building was we have two square rubbermaid containers on each floor. I called 311 and asked for the sticker labels for the recycing. They said all I have to do is place one blue sticker label on the container and use a clear bag. and the other container I placed the green sticker label and use a clear bag. On each sticker label it explains what is suppose to be placed in that container.


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


Thanks, Mike Mac. We have the blue + green NYC labels that you put on trash containers that tell you what to recycle. Our board "dispute" is whether the containers (trash cans) for recyclables (glass, paper, etc.) MUST be blue or if they can be any color - black, brown, grey or whatever - as long as we put the blue + green NYC labels on them.

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live in super - llprime Sep 07, 2007


We have a live in super, are a union building and follow
union rules. however the super has another home which
he goes to and leaves the building without persnnel on
call, he says he is 20 minutes away on a good day.

Is he in violation of current union rule. Help

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No, he is not in violation of any union rules because, there is no such "union rules" saying where a super should live.
Pg

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


The Housing Maintenance Code of Union 32B/J, the union that covers building workers such as superintendents, clearly states that in residential buildings of ten or more units, the super must live either on-site or within 200 feet of the building and he should be able to effectively manage the handymen, the porters and all other building staff members.

If the super is not responding in a manner that is effective to service requests or emergencies, or if you can prove that his apartment with the coop is merely a second apartment, you can require him to make the adjustment or fire him for insubordination.

In both non-union and union situations, when a superintendent commits a criminal act or poses a demonstrable danger by his presence, OR ABSENCE, he can be fired immediately.

And in any disciplinary situation, it is imperative that both the board and management maintain accurate and ongoing documentation of the disciplinary actions taken for their own purposes and also for their protection in the event the super brings suit against them or initiates an arbitration proceeding.

~AR

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The question asked was is the super in voilation of UNION RULES. The answer is NO.
AR, The housing Maintenance Code is a New York City Code and not a union code.
Secondly the code states 9 units or more and not 10.
I try to answer the question asked, and I did.


Pgrech

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While you may have answered the question exactly as it was written, you failed to address the concern.

Consequently, I will spell it out even clearer since you seem to have an unwarranted inhospitable attitude:

Under NYC rules, buildings with nine (correct, not 10) or more apartments must have 24-hour janitorial services. The owner or super must live in the building or at least the same block, or live within 200 feet of it.

Management makes the rules; the union follows them, within the guidelines of the RAB / Union agreement. (which may be downloaded in PDF and entirety here: http://www.seiu32bj.org/cd/pdf/RAB_res_2006.pdf ) Article IV p1&2 , and others, of the union/employee handbook and RAB agreement show that if the super is insubordinate to the rules and systems set in place by management, he can be fired for such insubordination.

The reason so many supers get away with so much is because owners/boards and others are not fully understanding the duties, tasks and relationships between the owner/employer, the union, the city and the employee.

More can be found on these subjects here:

http://www.cooperator.com/articles/600/1/In-a-Class-of-Thier-Own/Page1.html

http://www.cooperator.com/articles/61/1/Your-Buildings-Superintendent/Page1.html


Pgrech: There is no need for animosity and attitudes on this board, we are all here to ask questions and provide opinions based on our experiences.

~AR

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)


All i did was answer the question asked and corrected your mis-information.

Pgrech

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AR

I just wanted to know what "Supers get away with so much" mean? Can you explain that alittle more, I like to know just what they are geting away with.

Thanks

Mike

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I agree with PGrech on this one. I have not come across anything in the union contract that states you must reside in the building. You may want to review what is the protocol in the event of an emergency.

Many superintendents that are away from their building have a very good back up plan until they return back to the property, such as, the super across the street is familiar with the property, the staff on duty are aware of the protocol when there is an emergency, where the shut off valves are etc. I am aware of buildings where the super has an apartment in the building he manages and has a house elsewhere where he commutes from.

FN



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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


Might be something in the PL, though. And if you still have a sponsor involved in your co-op, I'm sure it's part of their agreement that service levels (including a resident super) must be maintained.

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If your super is legally domiciled in other place, when why not ask him to surrender the apartment and why not transform the space into another facility or living quarters for another employee?

AdC

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Adc, not sure what you mean by letting another employee use the living quarters. This may be interpretated many different ways?

FN

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You read it right! Obviously, if your superintendent is legally domiciled in another location and insists to be 20 minutes away from the building, i.e., he is not willing to live in the apartment at the building, then why not have the co-op use the apartment premises for other purposes including providing living quarters to another employee?

Obviously, this is an issue that requires frank discussion with the union. After all, you are allowing the freedom to the super to be legally domiciled somewhere else!

AdC

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AdC, you and I do not even know if llPrime had a frank discussion with the super about the apt. It is worth bearing in mind, if you use the apt for another purpose how will you attract a super later if there will be no apt available.(I see your point)

FN

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FN,

I know you did not post the question. My answer was another spin for ILPRIME, i.e., it differed from the other two respondents. Again, I see this forum as a way of thinking "out the box." If an idea triggers some other thoughts, then take it and run with it. No need to argue.

In regards to your question, my answer was use the space to the best of your discretion. If it is convenient to leave it empty, then leave it empty. If you can use it as a board meeting place, then use it. If it can be rented out, do it. If it is to have an employee use it as living quarters.

AdC



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No, I did not post the original question. When answering I try to view it from all angles. My fear? is that if you were to turn that apt into lets say a gym, how would you attract a good superintendent down the road without an apt to offer him/her.

FN.

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What makes you think the super is not living in the union building. Before you make accusations of any TYPE, make sure your facts are correct!

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Because people have been watching him come into the building
with his wife before the start of his work day. I do not
make comments or accusations without proof it is on tape.

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Is it on tape that he comes in every single day to start his work with his wife from his home?

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two/three days a week, he is not available for emergency
since he is 30-40 minutes away, etc.

he is being paid to be a live in super, we give him
an apt, pay utilites, etc. and he is not around when
needed.

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Occupancy - Tom Sep 06, 2007


As per PL of our Co-op grown up children can live with the parents (3-bedroom apartment).
The Board informed Management Company to write a letter to the shareholder, who recently purchased an apartment, that they should be living in their new 3-bedroom apartment alone because at the time of interview it was not indicated that the grown up children will be living with them.
However the Management Company has been informed at the time of closing that the children will be living with their parents.

Please HELP!

Thanks in advance.



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Occupancy is a sticky subject. Children can live with parents regardless of age. I'm sure everyone thinks that the parents were not forthcoming during the interview, but c'la vie! Such actions may say something about people -- not too transparent for one.

Since this was announced after the fact, your admissions committee (1 or 2 members) should run a "meet and greet" session to go over rules and amenities. From thereon, everyone should then smile!

AdC

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Shouldn't penalties be levied for non-disclosure, not so much for the children, but for sneaking roommates in without prior knowledge.

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What you talking about V,"Sneaking roommates?"

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New shareholders not being honest about the people going to live with them and REFUSAL to disclose who they are. In one case I heard the roommates moved in before the shareholder did. She told the board it was just her and her mother. Now there may be one or two additional people living there who are not relatives. We are fighting about it on the board. Half say it's an invasion of privacy, the other half speak of liability. Who's right?

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Dear V
ONE of the most important documents in a co-op is the proprietary lease. That is because the lease is the document that gives shareholders the right to occupy their apartments and sets forth the rules and regulations governing shareholders' rights.
I will answer your question.
In this case it's mother and daughter and some roommates.
How do you know who else LIVES in the apartment. How did you determine the age and number of residents in the apartment? Did you secretly WATCH them? You seem to have a PERSONAL issue or a hidden agenda,for which you have gone as far as INVADING PERSONAL PRIVACY of residents.

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Agree with MaryN
The difference between the sidewalk and apartment is that shareholder has the right to exclusive possession of the apartment against the entire world, even the board.

H.

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But paragraph 14 our PL says that no guest can stay in a shareholder's apartment past thirty days without written consent of the Board and management. Few shareholders are doing this.

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Hello V, GUEST not roommate. Big difference.
Concentrate.
H.

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How is a Co-op supposed to control the number of people living in the apt? If the proprietary lease has 2 persons and one sees six persons coming in and out of the apt. Shouldn't the coop be concerned that the occupants are illegal subletters? I am all for privacy, but how can a co-op prevent the additional "roommates". Most co-ops provide water, hot water usage that is included in the maintenance, and if many co-operators go this route, wouldn't that be a financial problem? How can a co-op regulate the tenancy without the issue of invading one's privacy? I live in a co-op and I wondered many times how to deal with this. Anyone has an answer?

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Dear Elena
Most proprietary leases specify who can reside in a co-op apartment — typically, the shareholder, a spouse, their children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and domestic employees. Although most leases do not specify the number of occupants, some leases impose limits on the number of occupants based on the apartment’s size. So you would have to check the proprietary lease to determine if there are any limits on the number of occupants. New York State’s Multiple Dwelling Law provides that every room must have at least 400 cubic feet of airspace for each adult and 200 cubic feet of airspace for each child occupying that room. Basically it’s 3 adults for 1 bedroom apartment, 5 adults for 2 bedroom apartment, 7 adults for 3 bedroom apartment. My dear Elena, boards are the "keepers of the gate" in their buildings, the ultimate decision-makers about who can live in the community it's a decision and process that carries great weight and responsibility, also boards can open up the co-op to potentially costly lawsuits over discrimination, harassment, invasion of privacy, etc. And if you are a board member please always keep that in mind to avoid REAL
FINANCIAL problems.
M.


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I completely agree and thank you both, MaryN and Harry, VERY WELL PUT!
Some Board members are very possessive; they want a recognition and obedience by every shareholder (newcomer). And if and when they are ignored – they start creating stories, spying and making everybody’s life miserable. How about becoming friendly and getting shareholders’ VOTES when they run for the board next time?

It’s a shame that some vindictive and unhappy Board members are given a power to twist RESIDENTS’ life. They are becoming ENTITIES with MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES. They should concentrate on their own life and leave others alone, because, as MaryN wrote: “boards can open up the co-op to potentially costly lawsuits over discrimination, harassment, invasion of privacy, etc. And if you are a board member please always keep that in mind to avoid REAL FINANCIAL problems”.

Thank you all for your input and support.

Tom

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Dear Friends

As a board director in New York City, can you throw a neighbor out of the building? Can you be held personally liable and bankrupted for your actions as a board director? As board power has grown with board responsibility – the answer has increasingly become “yes.”
If you – or your board – are having difficulties understanding your roles and the scope and limits of your authority, be warned: lack of the necessary skills and confusion over board roles, responsibilities, and powers often lead to bad governance, which, in turn can lead to poor decisions and, possibly, future financial problems. Like every other commodity or person, buildings have reputations. Lawyers, accountants, managing agents, and brokers who work in this industry all know the reputation of a building. If the board is not conducting itself properly, then the building is not being run properly. This information is passed on to prospective buyers. Bad rumors or the bad standing of a building affects the price of its apartments.
Very few actions you may initiate on the board are as consequential but also as necessary as knowing when and how to inform on your fellow board members. Learn how to spot the signs of trouble, avoid common mistakes.
For keeping up to date with key issues, and for accessing important data on your building you can always contact:

Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC)
250 West 57th Street, Suite 730
New York, N.Y. 10107-0730
212-496-7400

Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives & Condominiums (FNYHC)
61-20 Grand Central Parkway Suite C110 Forest Hills, N.Y. 11375
718-760-7540.

New York Association of Real Estate Managers (NYARM)
500 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1212
New York, N.Y. 10018
212-216-0654


Thank you
Good Luck
M.

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Several apartments were burglarized several years ago, one of the culprits claimed to be a roommate of a shareholder. So yes my agenda is preventing that from happening again. Or something worse.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)


Dear V.
The co-op building in which I live has a digital camera security system. The system films and records all common areas of the building, including the elevator, garages, hallways and laundry room. Why don't you offer the board to purchase the security system to prevent burglary or "something worse".
P.S. Yes you are right V, paragraph 14 our PL says that no guest can stay in a shareholder's apartment past thirty days without written consent of the Board and management, GUESTS, but not the roommates. You really seem to have a PERSONAL issue other then "burglary". I no longer have a desire to continue this discussion. You obviously lack the knowledge and expertise that pertains to this topic.
Thank you
M.

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All I did was ask a question and I got my answer. Thank you very much. No further comment is needed on my part either!

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The proprietary lease usually provides that the shareholder and members of the shareholder’s family may occupy an apartment, and Section 235-f of the Real Property Law (the so-called “roommate law”) provides that every residential lease entered into by one tenant “shall be construed to permit occupancy by the tenant, immediate family of the tenant, one additional occupant, and dependent children of the occupant…” This law has been held to be applicable to co-op proprietary leases. Therefore the co-op board may not prohibit questioner No. 39 from having a roommate.
So if the grown up child moved into the unit occupied by the parents and lives there with the parents, that would typically fall within the list of permitted occupants and would not require board consent or provide justification for a surcharge.



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Thank you

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Why would someone buy a three bedroom apartment and live there by themselves? Didn't the board see this coming?

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Why didn't the managing agent inform the board that the grown adult children will be living with the shareholder? Don't they work FOR you?

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Baseboard Heat Upgrade - board newbie Sep 06, 2007


Some of the units in our small co-op are severly underheated and a plumber came onsite to assess the situation. After completing a calculation based on volume of the unit and amount of BTU's we have vs what we need, he suggested upgrading our current residential baseboards with light commercial. This would alleviate adding additional feet of baseboard to walls where there is none, he contends. We are talking about 550 sq foot studios with normal height ceilings. Anyone know if this is a good remedy? He also said it would involve cutting some of the wood floors away from where the thicker new piping would go. Sounds like a nightmare. Would the co-op have to repair the floors since this is in the course of performing a co-op repair? Thanks all.

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something sounds wrong here.
only because when the designer was first approved by the DOB and whatever engineers first did this install/build, the heat requirements had to have been figured and met.

Did something happen between then and now?
was the boiler neglected?
is it something outside your plumbers expertise?
are you leaking heat from somewhere else?
these things can cost you allot more later if not answered correctly now. more/heavier heating elements are not always the answer.
You may have better spend money by hiring a heating engineer for 1500 dollars or so to review and advise. This will/should end up in a more efficient solution in the long term.

~AR

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Twenty years have passed since the building was gutted/renovated and lots has probably happened. Most likely suspect is windows deteriorating (heat escaping) but that would be $10,000 to replace due to size (there is a huge three-pane sliding glass door). Since only two units are still below legal heat requirements on cold days, the Board is loathe to make that investment though that is what even the plumber and building engineers have suggested to do first. The Board fears this will not solve the problem and we don't really lots of money so they are looking at quick fixes. Anyone know a good plumber?

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We use Wynne plumbing and Temperini Mechanical
you can call Joe temperini 347-582-5934 the owner

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Burned Out??? - Jim Storch Sep 05, 2007


I am the board president of a mid size Manhattan building with approximately 90 units and I think I am burned out.

I have been frustrated at every turn with the inability to get anything done and I am putting in a significant amount of time and energy into this endeavor.

Our management company has been replaced but appears no better than the last one. Is this a major problem in the industry?

Our shareholders are apathetic and only want their specific issues resolved. They don't care to see the entire picture. Is this common as well?

Our board is serious about attempting to tackle issues but perhaps we are going about it the wrong way.

Any advice here. I really want to pack it in and give up, but I can't as their appears to be noone interested in picking up the baton if I wanted to pass it on. And I am not going to be selling anytime soon.

ARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

Any similar stories and/or advice how to cope.


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Sounds like you and your Board need to take a little retreat together and brainstorm.

I suggest a weekend outing to one of New York's local parks, with a picnic lunch, some kind of sports equipment (even two mitts and a softball), and a beverage or two.

Relax, enjoy the day and your fellow Board Members, and have a frank and freewheeling talk over lunch about what's wrong, and what you all, as a team, can do about it.

As President, it's your most critical role to keep the discussion as open as possible and to curtail fingerpointing and any personal comments.

Get creative! Think outside the building. : )

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We are a union building, our super has an apt and other
benefits which the union requires. We have over 200 apt.
However the super does not stay in his apt. he travels to
his house which is about 20 minutes away. He is not
available at nite for emergencies.

Are there any union people who could advise his he in
violation of the union rules. thank you

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Lynn, why not try/post your question seperately. The subject/question posted on the top of the page relates to board member burnout.

FN

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Sorry I am not all that computer know how and I thought
i entered it correct.

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No worries, just helping out. I will jump up to your post later.

FN

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Jim: Many board members feel as you do, and everything you said is very common in many bldgs.

Don't pack it in and give up. You "care" and it doesn't sound like a lot of your SHs do, so you're a rare, valuable entity. When a bldg loses good board members, it runs the risk of getting some who are't capable of running a bldg or a corporation, or who want be on the board only for self-serving reasons. Both bad news.

You said "our board is serious about attempting to tackle issues..." That means you aren't the only board member who wants to do this. Good. You're not alone on the board in this desire. Get together and start taking action.

First, your board should write a list of things your mgmt firm isn't doing satisfactorily or is ignoring. Then your board should meet with a mgmt firm director/principal and your property manager to discuss improvements. Don't just complain. Try to make it a cooperative effort. If things don't start improving in, say, 3 months, start looking for another mgmt firm. Sometimes you have to go through a few to find a good one but they're out there. You pay them to work for you. If they aren't earning their pay, you're doing all your SHs a disservice - and wasting their money.

Also, how's your super/staff? Do they do their jobs well? If mgmt can help with this, fine. If not, you/your board should meet with them (again, in a cooperative way) and try to work out knots in that area.

Then, review bldg/corporate issues. If mgmt can help here too, great, but don't wait on them. How's your operating account? Do you have much debt? How are your reserves? If you don't have numbers, ask mgmt for them and don't take no for an answer. They work for you, you don't work for them. Any bldg issues that need prompt attention (pest control, repairs)? Depending on your finances, see what needs to be done and what you can start doing that you can afford.

SHs are apathetic, esp if they don't see positive changes or anything getting better. They only know what they see. You can install a new boiler with lots of fancy sensors but all SHs care about is having heat in the winter. Can you do any bldg things that will be readily "noticeable"? Even small ones - new recycling bins, a fresh coat of paint in the lobby. Put a lockable Suggestion Box in the mailroom (with paper/pen). Send everyone a memo - tell them where it is, invite them to submit ideas, and say all signed slips will receive a reply. Have a designated board member check the box once a month and DO reply to signed submissions.

Apathy can be difficult to overcome but it can be done to a good degree. Let Shs know you and your board care about the bldg and them. Keep lines of communication with them open. If they start seeing changes, attitudes will change.

My last two suggestions:

- Don't spend every free waking moment on the bldg or being board pres. Take time away from it. Except for emergencies or critical issues that need immediate attention, what's there on Friday will still be there on Monday.

- Designate. Don't do everything yourself. Assign tasks to other board members or ask them to volunteer to take on something, like drafting a letter to SHs or calling mgmt firms to explain your bldg's needs and get preliminary info if they're interested that the board can review and decide if it wants to meet with any of them.

Hope some of my suggestions are helpful.

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Thanks BP

Your comments do offer intelligent perspective, insight, and inspiration.


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JIm

You and I share similar concerns about our buildings. Looks like those problems you described are not unique to your building alone I have no advice to give as I am in the same boat you are in.

AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!

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Thanks V.

I assumed I was not alone.

Although this is no comfort, I have come to expect these frustrations.

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The SH and the Doorman - BP Sep 04, 2007


We've had a doorman (3pm-midnight, M-F) for many years. A SH (since '03) says she thought a doorman was just to help 2 elderly SHs and since they're both now gone, we no longer need one. We said it would be a "reduction in services" and we can't take away a service we've always provided. Also, our super has an afternoon job and goes to night school, so he isn't here 2pm to 10pm. With no doorman we'd have no one on site for security, or for help if needed.

This SH is telling everyone we're wasting a lot of money on a doorman. That issue isn't the problem. The doorman we have is very helpful/conscientious, and everyone likes him. The problem is this SH. Many others are complaining loudly that she's calling, e-mailing, ringing bells and bothering them. They all told her to stop but she hasn't and they want the coop to do something about it.

The board spoke to her and sent her a letter saying we have complaints that she's creating a disturbance and asking her to stop. Since she came here in '03, she's been nice and seemingly "rational," but suddenly she's ballistic about the doorman. We thought maybe something happened between them, but she hasn't said anything about him personally. He's 54-55, very courteous, and we don't he got fresh or anything like that. She's been bothering everyone almost daily since early July. She called me 3x today. I finally said the issue was no longer up for discussion and I was hanging up, which I did.

Our SHs feel as we do about her and the doorman is not an issue with them. I think we should all just ignore her and hopefully she'll tire and stop this. We don't want to get our coop attorney involved but if she doesn't stop, he may have to send her a letter.

Anyone have any other suggestions on how to deal with her?

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First, in your posting you should not go above and beyond the fact that the Shareholder feels that you are wasting money. The problem between sharholder and doorman is purely speculative. As St. Theresa used to say, "Leave the CRAZY ONE" alone and you will not run into phantoms.

Now, back to your problem:

Your By-laws state that the Board has the last word in decision-making. So, why take the tear and wear from a shareholder?

Solution: Your management writes a formal letter to the shareholder with copy to your co-op counsel (for info)stating the facts:

Thank you for your concern on saving money, but Board has reviewed the building's staff's requirements and has CONCLUDED that total door coverage is required if security is to be preserved. PERIOD.

State to the person that shareholders have complained about being individually solicited by a shareholder on a matter that should be addressed as a suggestion to management and copy to the board. HOwever, if the person wishes to continue pressing the item, it should then may be brought in PUBLIC at an open shareholders meeting. HOwever, in the meantime, the sharheolder should cease her activity until the appropriate venue takes place.

Follow the staff assessment public and even remind shareholders what is expected of them if they wish to elevate suggestions of operational nature.

AdC

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I agree with AdC

~AR

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Average amount of vacation time for staff - rfs Sep 03, 2007


Would be interested in the average amount of vAcation days provided for non-union supers and doormen. What seems reasonable to you?

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I think 1 week after the 1st year, until year 5.Then 2 weeks until the fifteen year.Then 3 to 4 weeks after that

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First 6 months the employee gets 3 working days, 1 year, 2 weeks, 5 years to 15 years 3, weeks 15 years to 20, 4 weeks.

Holiday's, I know of buildings that try to get by with only a couple of staff working that day to save money.

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I clicked too fast on the last message.
Anyway, thanks George. What about the average situation re: holidays off for non-union staff?

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George I think what you listed is way to low. I would be interested to know what your vacation package is like.
Its simple, you want good staff? Threat them well. Otherwise they will look for better deals.
Pg

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I guess you don't what a job is for to work.A lot of people in country don't get vacations.They should be happy to get that time.

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I dont know about the rest of the country. This issue is in New York, therefore, stick to NY practices.

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George,

I have to agree with Peter and Nicky, what country are we talking about? We are here in AMERICA and lets deal with the facts here! By the way how much vacation time do you receive from your employer?

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vacation is not a right in this country.Check with the federal rules

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George, most of us were responding to rfs post (for all I know you could be George as well). Anyway, the point here is frs asked a question, many people responded and gave their opinion. Your were of the opinion that employees should get very little or no vacation (your opinion which I do not agree with,but respect).Just a footnote, many of my employees have anywhere between four and five weeks vacation per year (due to the fact that they have over twenty years in the union). Yes, we do survive by hireing/training summer relief to fill in. This works very well.

FN

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I pretty much agree with George? on this one. For the first year one week, then after two or three years on the job two weeks vacation. From five years onwards three weeks etc.
See if you can get hold of a copy of the union contract book so you can compare. I am not sure what arrangement was discussed with your super. I know many supers that instead of taking overtime for additional work, they use that additional time towards vacation.

Hope it was of some help,

FN

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Sorry George, I agree with P.Grech on vacation time. One week of vacation for the first five years is nothing. I would be interested to know how much vacation time you get each year. As to your response about other countries and vacation, that is a non issue. I believe the building in question is in NY. Like P. Grech said a happy workforce is a productive one.

FN (I am on vacation next week)

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I guess you don't like working.Who cares if that are happy.2 WEEKS .Any more the buildings fall apart .Like yours

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You agree with me on the other post.Which side of fence are you on.

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pipe leaks - GM Sep 02, 2007


Our co-op is about 35 years old. They are 2 story brickfaced garden apts. On average for the last few years we have had to repair at least a dozen pinhole pipe leaks a year from copper pipes that run through the ceiling between the up and downstairs apts. Any information about why these leaks would occur and/or how to prevent them would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
GM

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Have you had any tests done on the piping? Perhaps it's substandard material.


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Thanks you RLM for responding. We recently had tests done and are currently digesting the lengthy report.
GM

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There are numerous conditions than can give rise to pinhole leaks.

Galvanic action can occur wherein copper and a dissimilar metal create an electrical current that slowly erodes the copper. Hanging straps of galvanized metal can lead to such galvanic action.

Expansion and contraction of the building (winter vs. summer) can flex the copper to the point where the material begins to deteriorate and then fail. In our 22 story, forty-five year old high-rise, we have expansion joints that are designed to flex (expand and contract) as the building changes in size. Over the last five years we have had failures of these joints and we are nearly finished with out 96 pair replacement program. In as much as the same piping system is employed for cold water in the summer and hot water in the winter, we have but one week at change of season time to drain the system and effect replacements.

There are other causes, e.g.: nails protruding through the walls/floors on which the copper “rubs” and then fails, not to mention galvanic action if the nail steel.

More importantly, what has your licensed plumber reported to you as to the cause of the leaks”?

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Thank you Ted-NJ for your response. Our plumber has not been too helpful. I will share your information with our Board and with our plumber.
GM

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meeting with the managing agent - GK Sep 01, 2007


Many of you have written wise things and have also given me good advice in the past; I'd like to get your feedback on this.

Miraculously, it looks as though our current VP is serious about getting rid of our managing agent/management company. (I've posted in the past about proxy tampering and other issues.) This is a great, great sign. It also gives me hope that the VP may be starting to think independently of the BP (who wants to retain the MA/management company).

The current managing agent was hired by the BP, who was the only one to interview her and presented it to the rest of the board as a fait accompli: "Here is our new managing agent." The way it always worked was this: the BP would meet with the MA on a monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) basis. Alone. During my stint on the board, I found this odd and asked if I could attend. Initially the BP told me I could, but that first meeting came and went and I wasn't notified that it was happening. So I asked that I be included in the next one (and the next one, and the next one...). The BP hemmed and hawed and said: "Well, the thing is, often we change the time at the last minute, so it's difficult to set up with an additional person..." To which I would respond: "Well, let me know anyway. Give me a heads-up. If I can make it, I will." And he would just never let me know that these meetings were happening.

Subsequently friends in other buildings raised their eyebrows at this and told me that it is not standard procedure for the MA to meet solely, alone, with the BP. In their buildings, the MA meets with the entire board (or a majority).

How does it work in your buildings?

Now that we're shopping for a new management company and MA, I'd kind of like it if we could start out on the right foot. I'd like the entire board to have a working relationship with the MA. It just seems healthier to me.

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GK: I remember your posts about problems with your BP, your VP's hesitancy to oppose him, etc. Glad to hear your VP is, hopefully, taking a stronger stance.

All BMs should have a working relationship with the MA, in my opinion. I think your BP and other BMs are forgetting an important point: A board is a "team." No BM should act or make decisions independently of the others. A BM can take on a task (e.g., researching a subject or writing a draft of a letter to Shs for "Board of Directors" signature). But he'd report back to the full board on such things.

That said, BMs have to interact with the MA to some degree. If, as happened to you, the BP is controlling and the only one working with the MA, the others are not in the loop and probably getting no info or skewed info from the BP on what is going on, how money is spent, etc. In my coop, we try to have all BMs attend meetings with the MA. If one can't make it, we make sure meeting minutes are typed asap and given to him with any paperwork (proposals, resident lists, etc.) the MA distributed at the meeting.

We have a lot of interplay by e-mail too. BMs copy the full board and the MA on their posts, and the MA copies all of them on his. It seems your BP and MA are a tight twosome, but handling e-mail this way ensures that no BM is left out of anything. You said you're shopping for a new mgmt firm and want to start off on the right foot with them. A first step in that direction should be having ALL BMs interview mgmt firms, deciding which firm you go with, and meeting the person who will be your MA.

In my coop, all BMs call the MA if they want, and meetings and e-mail keep everyone involved. There are times when the BP is the contact person with the MA, to keep things less complicated and/or time-consuming. THe BP and MA can often settle minor issues or clear up details that the full board doesn't have to get involved in. But on important matters the BP informs the others what the MA told him or what was discussed. Of course, it helps if you have a BP who isn't a control freak and who can be counted on to do this.

If your VP is waking up to the need to not let the BP keep playing "Power Man," maybe your board's next major task in the months ahead, along with hiring a new mgmt firm, should be getting the BP voted out of. If you want to fresh, clean start and get off on the right foot, it sounds like it's time to give your BP the boot!

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BP, thank you so much for your input. It has been difficult for me to respond. Everything you say is so rational, so sane, so seemingly straightforward...and yet, in light of our current BP, it will be difficult if not impossible to implement much of what you suggest.

"If, as happened to you, the BP is controlling and the only one working with the MA, the others are not in the loop and probably getting no info or skewed info from the BP on what is going on, how money is spent, etc."

Yep.

"A first step in that direction should be having ALL BMs interview mgmt firms, deciding which firm you go with, and meeting the person who will be your MA."

As I said, I'm not presently on the board (I can't be as long as the current BP is part of the equation) but the VP and I have been having discussions about this and I am really pushing for just what you suggest above. I'm really trying to emphasize the importance of having all BMs meet and interview potential MAs, rather than just the BP, who usually tries to maneuver situations so that he is the only one meeting with any given person: MA, super, potential buyer, accountant, counsel... As stated before, he's a textbook bully, so one-on-one situations work best for him.

"Of course, it helps if you have a BP who isn't a control freak and who can be counted on to do this."

He is a control freak, and can be counted on to relay only information (accurate or not, complete or not, true or completely fabricated) that furthers his own agenda.

"If your VP is waking up to the need to not let the BP keep playing 'Power Man,' maybe your board's next major task in the months ahead, along with hiring a new mgmt firm, should be getting the BP voted out of."

This was the part that I found it especially difficult, almost painful, to respond to. The VP has always been aware of the problems with the BP. From day one. But he caves because: the BP's wife is a lovely person (she really is!) who is good friends with the VP's wife; the BP brings the VP nice little presents from his vacations all over the globe (how he can afford such frequent, far-flung travel is another question for another day); the VP views the BP as unstable and fears even more erratic behavior or reprisals if action is taken to remove him.

As I think I mentioned previously, we did attempt to remove him as president at one point. We suggested that he take on the role of treasurer, which involves less interaction with the public and to which he seems better suited. The motion was presented, I seconded the motion, and if the VP had "thirded" the motion the BP would have had to step aside. But the VP, who was willing to assume the role of president, stopped short of concurring with the motion, for the reasons stated above. Even so, this essentially amounted to a vote of no confidence. If it were me, I would have taken that to heart and stepped aside. Not this guy. If anything our no-confidence vote only strengthened his belief that he is somehow entitled to the role of president, and he dug in his heels.

With the current cohort he is once again president. Not quite sure how that happened but I imagine it has something to do with the fact that two BMs are brand new and the VP is rightfully consumed with his professional life, where he excels. Part of the problem, I think, is that the BP has more time than anyone else to devote to the board.

As for voting him off the board altogether, I don't see how that can ever happen, since he is voting for the sponsor and also seems to have most of the proxies in his pocket. So.

Sorry to be prolix and sorry to sound defeatist, but this is not a good situation. However, one can hope that by the *full* board developing a working relationship with a new MA, and by the *full* board deciding which management company to go with, life in our building will be infused with just a wee bit more sanity (and genuine representation) than at present.

Thanks again for your input.

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GK: I understand what you're saying. You have a difficult situation with your BP. I'd like to say a few more things and I hope you don't mind.

1) I recall your saying that the wives of the BP and VP are friends. Fine. Let them. They're not supposed to be engaged in, or privy to, board biz anyway. You have to tell the VP he has to decide: a) if he wants to be the BP's friend and accept presents the BP gives him from his travels (he must realize they're payoffs) or b) if he'll be a BM whose first responsibility is --TO THE COOP AND ALL ITS SHs.

2) A bully (in school, at work, on a board) is only a bully if people LET THEMSELVES BE BULLIED. A BP has some specific duties: signing coop tax forms, chairing meetings (maybe), etc. But he has NO MORE PRIVILEGES OR RIGHTS THAN ANY OTHER BM. The board is a team of equals who work together.

3) Board positions aren't decided by SHs. The board votes on who will assume what position. Try this. Convince the VP to tell the new BMs how important it is to unseat the BP. They must have a clue by now that he acts totally out of order. Then at the next board meeting, the VP (or new BM if he'll do it) should ask the BP if he may have the floor to speak. It's "Parliamentary procedure" - if someone has the floor, it can't arbitrarily be taken away by anyone. It's given up if a person who has the floor agrees to give it up or if that person concludes his motions/business.

The VP (or new BM) should motion to vote on reassigning the BP as treasurer. (You only need someone to "second" it, you don't need a "third". There's something called "majority carries." If the majority of your BMs vote to reappoint the BP as treasurer - he's the treasurer. If he doesn't want to be, tell him he always has the option of resigning from the board. IMPORTANT - check this "procedure" with your coop attorney. If you can't trust him any more than the BP, ask another attorney, or ask a BP or BM you know in another bldg to ask their attorney for you.

4) I see why you don't want to be on the board with this BP. But you seem to be one of the few people who sees the big picture and has the guts to want to turn things around for the better. Shall I try to instill a pang of guilt in you and say: Your coop, SHs and board need you."

You have a tough situation, and if the BP has many proxies (incl the sponsor's) in his pocket, it isn't easy to get him voted off the board. That's another animal entirely. But think about it. Why does he have so many proxies? Is he friends with all those SHs? Do they give him their proxies bec he bullies them? Do they honestly think he's doing a good job, and "if it aint' broke don't fix it"?

I don't know how big/small your bldg is. But if you start looking for more SHs to run for the board, get them revved up, urge them to be more "visible" and gradually show all SHs how stagnant things are, and how new qualified people with fresh ideas and perspectives are needed on the board, you could change things by the time the next annual meeting rolls around. Keep communication going. As you get closer to annual meeting time, tell SHs you can make a difference and you hope they'll support you in the election in person or by proxy. You don't have to throw this in the BP's face. You (and by you, I mean you and others you can convince to run for the board) can campaign quietly just by keeping in touch and talking to SHs. You can do it in a responsible, professional way, which is probably not what your BP does.

GK, I still say someone can't be controlling if you take the source of his power away, and he can't be bullying if you refuse to let yourself be bullied.

Finally, GK, I don't think your board's problem is totally the BP. I think it's also the VP. Is he going to do what's right...or what's easy? Is he going to agree with you then keep backing down bec he's afraid of the BP? If he's so wishy-washy and easily manipulated by the BP, why doesn't he get off the board? What good has he done for your bldg lately as a BM? It seems to me he's virtually useless if he won't take a stand and STICK to it.

As my dad used to say: "Pee or get off the pot."

I didn't put in my two cents. I put in about a dollar and a half. :-) No offense intended. Just trying to help.

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Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, BP. No offense taken whatsoever. Just a bit difficult to respond to such matter-of-fact rationality, because our BP, although capable of bursts of lucidity, is highly irrational and seems to sow dysfunction wherever he goes.

"They're not supposed to be engaged in, or privy to, board biz anyway."

Yeah, but they are. The VP's wife in particular has a lot of board input.

"You have to tell the VP he has to decide: a) if he wants to be the BP's friend and accept presents the BP gives him from his travels (he must realize they're payoffs) or b) if he'll be a BM whose first responsibility is --TO THE COOP AND ALL ITS SHs."

I have told him this in no uncertain terms on more than one occasion. He just sort of shrugs it off; I'm not sure if I'm getting through to him. As for the gifts, these aren't big-ticket items. It's not like the BP is bringing the VP diamonds from South Africa. No, we're talking: a CD from West Africa here, a loaf of bread from an exotic island there...etc. Just little souvenirs that say "thinking of you."

"A bully (in school, at work, on a board) is only a bully if people LET THEMSELVES BE BULLIED."

I've heard this argument before; frankly I think it's an overly simplified reading of a very complicated dynamic. I really believe that most people are profoundly capable of empathy. I would go so far as to say that empathy defines our humanity. Bullies are the exception and, I think, manifest antisocial characteristics and an inability to empathize which makes it possible for them to manipulate others and to be cruel. And I do mean cruel. The objects of this will almost always try (and will spend a lot of time and energy trying) to UNDERSTAND the situation but, to paraphrase Primo Levi, Hier ist kein Warum--there is no WHY here. No reason, no rationality.

"The VP (or new BM) should motion to vote on reassigning the BP as treasurer. (You only need someone to 'second' it, you don't need a 'third'. There's something called 'majority carries.' If the majority of your BMs vote to reappoint the BP as treasurer - he's the treasurer."

What happened when we tried to reassign him was this. We were a board of four. One BM motioned to reassign the BP as treasurer. I seconded the motion. The VP, while recognizing the problem and offering to assume the role of presidency, abstained from voting. The BP, obviously, voted against the motion and said that, if necessary, he would get the sponsor on the phone and the sponsor would also vote against it. So even though this was clearly a no-confidence vote, we assumed we were stuck, and the status quo was maintained. (The BP interpreted this as a personal victory, and emerged from the meeting feeling more entitled than ever to the position of president.)

"Shall I try to instill a pang of guilt in you and say: Your coop, SHs and board need you."

I agree with you. But when my quality of life is so diminished by trying to deal with the nightmare that is our BP, I have to take a step back and protect myself. If I felt that others firmly had my back, that would be a different story. But the others in the building who had his number and were opposed to him have all left within the past year or so. I can't do this by myself. There are a couple of others still in the building who appear to have doubts about this man, but really getting through to them and persuading them that action is necessary to unseat him is a delicate balancing act. One hesitates to be a "troublemaker," because that isn't effective. I do have some emails that I could show them that would make my case quite persuasively, however. It's just a question of finding the right moment.

"I don't know how big/small your bldg is."

50 units.

"You can do it in a responsible, professional way, which is probably not what your BP does."

Nope. He buttonholes people and gets right up in their face (think of the famous photos of Lyndon Johnson where he utterly disrespects his interlocutor's physical boundaries) and basically just lies.

"I don't think your board's problem is totally the BP. I think it's also the VP. Is he going to do what's right...or what's easy?"

The VP is good to have on the board. Without going into too much detail, he has professional expertise that is vital to the co-op. He's also very level-headed and diplomatic. And smart. I'm disappointed that he can't seem to take a firm stand against the BP, though. The BP has bragged to shareholders that he is "grooming" the VP to be his replacement, which, though a pathetic, self-serving and patronizing thing to say, does at least offer a glimmer of hope that he foresees a future in which he will no longer be the BP.

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Our Board meets on a monthly basis at the managing agent's offfice. All Board members or at least a majority attend including the managing agent. Minutes are taken. The managing agent mails the minutes with the maintenance bill.
In between Board meetings we use e-mail to address co-op concerns. Board members and Managing agent are linked together in e-mail address book. This system works well to respond and act uniformly on issues in a timely manner.
GM

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GM, this makes a lot of sense and this is certainly the way I and two other board members tried to do business. The BP, alas, dislikes email (he is made especially uncomfortable by group emails or emails that are copied to relevant parties). He favors one-on-one conversations that leave no trace.

During my stint on the board I made what I think was a persuasive case for why the board should use email in its communications. I'm not sure to what extent email is used currently; my guess would be that it is used less. The BP's modus operandi is to scream until he gets what he wants; the other BMs are fairly conciliatory and I imagine would let him have his way on the email issue, since he feels so strongly about it.

BP, thank you, too, for your answer, which I'll address separately.

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As a principal and managing agent, I can say the current agent should be replaced if they are permitting this practice. I have one particular BP who does occasionally ask to meet me (starbucks, the building, wherever) and we discuss bills, questions, etc. When we are done, I ALWAYS memorialize any conversations and requests, etc. in an email to him, cc'ing the entire board.

The agent must understand, that even though the BP requests time, he/she works for the entire coop/condo.
feel free to contact me if you have any questions, etc.

~AR

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Wow. This is very good to know. Thank you so much for your response. (I've also been meaning to answer BP's thoughtful response.)

I've only been a co-op owner for five years. I confess that for the first year or so I didn't pay much attention to building governance. Once I started getting interested, our current BP was ensconced in his position and would meet privately in his apartment with the MA on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. It wasn't until I was on the board that I thought about that and asked myself: "Wait. Is that normal?"

You write that from time to time you meet one-on-one with the BP to go over bills, etc. You then follow up with a record of conversation cc'ed to the entire board. (That's something right there. Our BP would chew you out for that. He views copying others on emails as a personal affront/shaming device. I and almost everyone else I know view emailing several people at once as simply efficient. It's stunning to me that the basic features of email should even arise as an issue. If the BP were older, I might be able to explain it as a generational thing, but in fact he's in his early forties so you would think that email would not be particularly controversial for him.)

Aside from these occasional one-on-one meetings with the BP you mentioned, do you also make it a regular practice to meet with the entire board?

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Any meetings with the BP are in addition to regular board meetings, never as a replacement. Again, anything said is reiterated at the meeting.
If the MA is not adhering to ethical practices (by his own volition or not), then he is being managed and not managing. out of order, thus, it needs fixing.

oh, and if the BP ever gets insulted that i copy the board, then that would indicate that he has something to hide and the meetings would have to stop immediately.

~AR

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"Any meetings with the BP are in addition to regular board meetings, never as a replacement."

Wow. Eye-opening. Thanks. It's funny how dysfunction can sometimes pass for normalcy, when people don't know better.

"oh, and if the BP ever gets insulted that i copy the board, then that would indicate that he has something to hide and the meetings would have to stop immediately."

Yup. This is what I've tried to indicate: the BP behaves very much like someone who has something to hide. If he's as irreproachable as he says he is, he wouldn't fly into a defensive rage every time an email gets copied, every time a question is raised, etc.

Thanks again.

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encouraging participation-your opinions? - curious Aug 31, 2007


Interested in feedback on this idea:

"To join our coop, you must run for election to the board one year out of every five, or else pay a $500 fee in lieu of your year of service."

First a house rule and, depending on the results, perhaps later a bylaw (with the sum left open).

Thoughts?

--Curious


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Per Curious -> "To join our coop, you must run for election to the board one year out of every five, or else pay a $500 fee in lieu of your year of service"

That doesn't encourage participation, that requires it. I assume by joining the coop you mean buying into it. You'll lose buyers if board service is a condition of purchase, and not everyone has the time/interest to serve on a board. You also run the risk of getting board members who aren't qualified/capable and may manage things badly and do your coop great harm. That's always possible but moreso here.

And why make Shs pay $500 in lieu of board service? Help us run the coop or if you won't do it, pay us money - one has nothing to do with the other.

Forcing Shs to serve on the board won't foster cooperation or enthusiasm for the task. Shs will resent the demand, and those who don't want to will serve halfheartedly and not do a good job. It's also very unlikely you'd ever get your Shs to vote in an amendment to the by-laws that requires board service or paying a fee. I can't see that happening.

You want to encourage more Shs to run for the board? Get to know your Shs. Keep lines of communication with them open. Search out those with particular skills (accounting, mgmt, marketing) and tell them what an asset they'd be for the coop if they were on the board. Let Shs know that you want their ideas and welcome their participation in making your coop a stable, secure, desirable place to live for all.

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Absolutely agree 100% with every single thing BP said. Wise words.

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Perhaps in a small complex, compelling participation is useful or necessary.

But, in our coop we would rather not have 85% of the residents at shareholders.

Most have no view as to how to run a corporation and yes, the coop is a corporation, and not a social club wherein board members run on a popularity ticket.

Sorry to be so acrimonious, but most folks would destroy the good order of a well-run corporation.

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Sounds like we're hearing just from the well-run corporations...how about the badly-run ones?

Think of jury duty, where such changes were made to get better-qualified jurors (it worked); cooperatives of all kinds (e.g. the Park Slope Food Coop) that require a modicum of labor in exchange for membership.

I'd be willing to reject new applicants I didn't think qualified to serve on our board.

Our board operates FAR beneath the level of any entity in my professional or social life. There must be a better way.

--Need more participation

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"Sounds like we're hearing just from the well-run corporations...how about the badly-run ones?"

I was the first to respond and I wouldn't exactly consider our co-op to be run well. Our co-op is run much like a monarchy.

"Think of jury duty, where such changes were made to get better-qualified jurors (it worked) . . . "

That's a very interesting point and now you've got me thinking. In fact I've always considered board service to be quite similar to jury service: it's a duty AND a privilege. (Most people don't view jury duty as a privilege. What can I say? I do.) I'm curious about how that might work in practical terms. With jury duty there is quite an elaborate selection process in place, culminating in voir-dire, with an effort to construct a diverse and neutral pool; in a scenario where people are being elected, I'm not sure how that would work, exactly. Interesting, though.

"I'd be willing to reject new applicants I didn't think qualified to serve on our board."

This would require some fairly complicated legislative changes, would it not? At least, if you wanted to do it legally?

"Our board operates FAR beneath the level of any entity in my professional or social life."

Yep, so does ours.

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Oops, it just occurred to me that in the system you propose, GM, people would not be elected since board service would be mandatory.

How would that work, practically speaking? One would need to come up with some sort of schedule. I think that your idea is probably a bit Utopian and would be difficult if not impossible to implement, but I'm very interested in hearing how you think it COULD work.

Implicit in your idea is the notion of term limits, which I'm extremely interested in pursuing. Another thing that might be considered is not requiring anyone who has lived in the co-op for one year or less to serve. That way people could get the lay of the land a bit before plunging into building governance. But, beyond that, how would the cohort be selected? and by whom?

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I used to know of some companies that had that "use our garbage removal service, or you can't do business.." motto.

I dont think they are around anymore... (in the way ther were anyway!)

~AR

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