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HABITAT

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Just when I thought I could get out.... - Susan S. Jun 27, 2007


I have grown weary of board service.

However, I know too much to give it up.

I am frustrated in my attempts to get the board working together and sharing the work and attention.

I am sick of management not doing what they were hired to do and feeling the need to constantly check up on them because of it.

I am fed up with shareholders who just don't get what it means to be part of a coop or their role in the process.

I am sick of certain shareholders believing I, as a member of the board, am the landlord.

Just when I thought I could get out...they all pulled me back in.

This is my home and I would prefer a seat at the table trying to work towards function as opposed to walking away and allowing dysfunction.

But....lets face it...the coop model stinks. It is ripe for incompetence, inefficiency, wastes time, wastes money...and at worse is ripe for fraud. It is good in theory with a horrible history of practical application.

AHHHHHHHH!

> Join the conversation Comments (4)


1. Join the crowd.
2. Sell and get my famous Wennebago or camping tent.
3. Offer your services as the Co-op Agent and quit your job.
4. Act as the paid Consultant of the Board with power to override bad decisions. Let the board do the work.

AdC



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I would also like out, but have not found a way to extricate myself, short of packing it in and quitting.

It seems there are many bomb throwers but no one willing to step in actually do the work of a board member.

I would love to walk away but also find it difficult.

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And this is exackly why, we need to bind together and get a few laws changed. Starting with manangement companies.
Email, has forced our Man company to work. Man companies assign one agent to too many buildings, but in the past, they had to do very little. And, in general no one was watching what they were doing. They often play along with BM who keep their paychecks coming.

CoOp owners have always looked like the priviliged, but our building is in a five star neighborhood, but is still basically a working-persons building. So we do have SH who are interested in the botton line.

But it took four years, of a few of us sticking together to boot out board members who ran the building as their own townhouse. Keep sending Emails, (anyone not doing their job or not playing by the rules hates the Email trail) Save Emails and SEND EVERY CORROSPONDENCE TO EVERYBODY... We found that if you send an Emial to the Pres of the Board and our Man agent, generally it was ignored...Believe me, if we can do it, anyone can....

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It's disheartening to read such sad stories about shareholder miscomprehension, professional incompetence and an absence of interest to serve.

Your building can be run differently, and well, but it will take people who are committed to change and honesty to serve. Sound out your neighbors to see who wants a better place to live -- AND who can work as a team, commit some time, and remain honest.

My building, luckily, has a history of honesty. Our previous property manager was scrupulous -- so much so that she and the super would each speak to potential vendors alone, to see if they would offer a bribe to one or the other. Those who did never got contracts. Oversight with the funds and checkbook are critical. Our managing agent has a controller who keeps the book, but our board also retains an independent CPA who verifies all the accounting.

Can things get through? Sure, they can. Nothing is perfect. But we make it clear to staff that we do not tolerate cheating of any kind. Maintaining that standard requires board members who themselves are committed to it.

A point about shareholders. Not until a few years ago did our building even conduct interviews of potential buyers. As the interview procedure has evolved we have used it primarily as a way to explain to buyers (almost all of whom have never owned a home, let alone owned shares in a co-op) that the board is, in fact, the landlord; that shareholders do not, in fact, own their apartments; that safety (from accidents, trespassers and lawsuits) is of paramount concern to the board because accidents can be extremely costly; and that maintenance fees will never go down until inflation does too (i.e. when pigs fly).

A regular newsletter helps to remind shareholders of these points in a friendly format.

All of these things take time and, corny as it sounds, moral standing. (Serving on a board makes me realize why so many companies are so poorly managed: Good managers are truly tough to find.)

As I tell shareholders who don't seem interested in the co-op, "My apartment is my biggest single investment and maybe yours too -- if you want any investment grow in value, you have to take care of it." That means maintenance increases to cover rising inflation, assessments to fix a leaky roof, and strict oversight of renovations.

I find that most shareholder misunderstandings come from one of two erroneous points of view. Either they believe they own the physical apartment (and so ignore the board's legal & fiduciary obligation to oversee it), or they believe the maintenance fee is no different from paying rent (and then blow a gasket when the fee rises to cover costs -- THEIR OWN costs, of course). Explaining the difference calmly can make a world of difference to the board.

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Steve, you call for something many people forget, "TRUST" in whom you elect. Many shareholders don't understand that TRUST is an important aspect of board representation.

A large % of participants' greatest problem seems to be placing "TRUST". For example, the increase of maintenance and assessment is seen as poor judgment. Mangers seem "INCOMPENENT" or "CORRUPTED." Superintendent are judged as "BEING LAZY", "TAKING ADVANTAGE", etc.

Well, with such attitudes or prejudices, "who can walk on water?" Obviously, being happy with management, the superintedent or a board means to understand their responsibilites and work scope and have specific measures to assess for their individual performances.

However, "TRUST" is important to build a good foundation. Boards should build trust by delivering their part: (1) business procedures that are sound and enforced in all areas by professionals and staff. (2) Open and honest communications with shareholders. (3) Taking the "hardball decision" when required. (4) SERVE above all since they were ELECTED at the PLEASURE of shareholders.

Once you have TRUSTING shareholders and boards who build TRUST the result will be a solid Co-op.

AdC

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You're absolutely correct, AdC.

Trust is undeniably critical in leadership.

Most co-op shareholders need plenty of reassurance that the maintenance fees they pay are going to good use. (I'm assuming that a co-op is well run and without waste.) How many people balance their checkbooks? If that's too much hassle (I don't balance my own, I admit), then it's too much to ask that all our neighbors understand corporate finance.

Part of the solution is regular communication. Run-of-the mill stuff can go in a conspicuous public place. We find the elevator ideal for construction updates and whom to contact during the super's vacation.

Sensitive topics can go out in the mail, either from the property manager (a reminder to follow recycling rules) or from the board (explanation of new house rules).

All of these notices can help to remind people how their money is being spent (on the construction; on recycling fines; paying for someone to cover the super during his vacation).

Some boards go as far as allowing shareholders to attend a portion of the board meeting.

And always leave a phone number or e-mail address so residents can contact a board member. When they do, reply!

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Trust goes beyond mere communications. In fact, I will disagree to what you proposed. HATE things posted on elevators to be exposed to visitors and potential buyers, letters from managers and the board as general reminders, etc.

When I wrote my message, I meant HUMAN TRUST and KNOWING function. Example:

When we go to the POLICE, we place TRUST in this enforcement body because it is our understanding that their BUSINESS PROCEDURES (enforcement procedures guided by the LAW or CODE) will lead to some GOOD (PREVENTION, CAPTURE, SURVEILANCE ETC.) so that ORDER is again imposed in society.

Thus, boards need to develop and/or review periodically its business procedures that will lead to some good. Sound procedures established and periodically reviewed by the board are translated in good management, good response from the employees, good admissions policies, etc. All of those things that chatroom visitors complain about here.

Apparently, there are many individuals that post messages here, i.e., Alice T, Big AL, etc. whose level of TRUST in the BOARD is minimal.

However, WHO WANTS TO RUN FOR A BOARD when the trust level is minimal? when Alice T is advocating in trying to collect e-mails from shareholders to blame board members? Isn't this what is happening today in US politics? Who trusts anyone when we are ready to accuse, get dirty laundry out, or not give a chance to anyone?

TRUST is key! Knowledge of the function is key for board members too. This is why I mentioned how board may also build TRUST:

1) Business procedures that are sound and enforced in all areas by professionals and staff.
2) Open and honest communications with shareholders.
3) Taking the "hardball decision" when required.
4) SERVE above all since they were ELECTED at the PLEASURE of shareholders.

FYI - Taking "hardball decisions" would be the most difficult. It translates for me, "I don't care if I am not elected again! I did what my conscience and fiduciary duty called for!!!" This is why I tell shareholders, "I never promised you a rose garden."


AdC


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AdC is certainly on-target. And while I agree with him that trust must be created and maintained in many ways, I still believe that messages in public places can be one of those tools.

Using AdC's point about exposing visitors and potential buyers to building info, I suggest that boards do not post things about the latest vermin infestation, reminders that shareholders in arrears will be assessed fines, or notes telling people to pick up their dog's poop. That sort of thing should be done in personal mail.

On the other hand, notices about improvements -- "Painting in the hallways begins Tuesday morning" -- or upgrades -- "The workout room now has a new DVD player" -- or routine maintenance that affects residents -- "Hot water will not be available Thursday between noon and 4" -- can be an effective way to let everyone know what's going on. And when these messages promote good things (repainted walls, new equipment in the fitness room), they can help sell the building.

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I agree it would be nice to Trust the board. But, we live in a real world, and personal agendas of Board members have almost ruined our building. And, because we began to REVIEW and QUESTION their decisions, in the last three years alone, we have saved ariybnd $100,000 by stopping work that the former Pres of the Board (and the man co) wanted to approve, but as it turned out -- was TOTALLY unecesarry.

The Forth Estate, as deemed by the founding Fathers of our nation -- is the Free Press. And with the Free Press we have Checks and Balances... And with our Emails (which were signed and there was no spying or whatever) or pititions, we became the Fourth estate in our building. With every layer the NEW board peels back, they find old problems that were never addressed. Avenues of revenue that were ignored for personal reasons or incompentence.

You are starting to sound like one of our Old board members who wanted to conduct secret meetings, keep the Board min secret and refuse to answer to any shareholder who questioned a decision or how THEIR money was being spent, and why a few Board members did not need permits for the renovations in their apartments.

No matter how much you may not like the Email Power, it was through Shareholders bonding together that we were able to change things.
ONE MORE THING: As for sneaking around and spying on the Board. We discovered that the IN-YOUR-FACE peition, and the signed, dated EMail Trail, was the best way to change things...As for finding people to run for the Board, after the Shareholders saw that we ould make a diffrienc, we have more than enough people running for the Board. And we replaced most of the old Board.

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AliceT

I'm sorry to give you my impression of a co-op whose mode of doing "check and balances" is based on e-mails of shareholders being manipulated by one or a reduced number of individuals who may have well founded or not so well founded information on what is going on:

Just simple ANARCHY!!!

Perhaps the tactic worked well to remove an ineffective board, but once done, the co-op has to grow and new boards have a need, if not an obligation to construct SOLID TRUST on effective business practices.

In other words, the TIME OF TERROR is over!

AdC



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If the Board is honest, and doing the right thing, than they should have no problem with sending out min or talking with SH, or sending Email varification.

There was no Anarchy, secret spying or whatever else you seem to think we were doing. We were direct, straighforward and the more we found out, the more direct and straight foward we became. And because over 80% of the SH (and one major sponsor) bonded together, sent SIGNED Emals and pititions etc,,, it was hardly a Time of Terror.

The Terror was for the Board members who had been in charge for so long, seeing thier power and the SH apathy dissapear were the ones who were terrified.

We, the Shareholders of our building, took our building back, in a very open and honest way. And its now on the road to recovry. Why do you so object to this? We do trust our new board. And the new Board members, having been on the other side, know the value of transparency and Email verification. The Board also has to TRUST the SH. We are a group of professionals, who care about our investment.

I have very much appriciated the business-like exchanges of information on Habitat, and at this point dont see that this is a productive exchange of information or ideas, so this is my last response to you on this subject.

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Business/with employees in CoOp - AliceT Jun 26, 2007


A BM, for the last 10years has operated a business with employees -- from his apartment Employees spend more time in the build than some owners, come and go as they please, are not bonded and there are no back-ground checks.

Other people now want to open businesses in the building. Some are client-based businesses. (we are a CoOp)

He says the law is on his side, that he is permitted to run a business with one/two employees. We say that the House Rules -- rule, and he has to close his busines. We are concerned that if he does not close his business, others will have to be approved. Does anyone have any info or can you direct us to a site for information...Thanks....


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Lately, this seems to be the trend as more and more people are "consultants" because of the type of the business environment. However, you should check your proprietary lease, your certificate of occupancy and speak with your co-op counsel in order to bring sense to these problems in which you have "mix use" of a residence.

AdC

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Look at your occupancy agreement - and other corporate documents - ours state that the apartment can only be used for residential purposes - no businesses - besides which if you have central electric, water, etc - you the shareholders are paying for that persons additional use

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you MAY have a business - we are in a coop in manhattan and there are shrink's ofices, architects offices, etc - not really much more traffic than the housekeepers. is this your personal agenda or is it really a problem?

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Its really a problem when you only have one PA elevator for 100 apartments, and one business already had three employees, (started out as a single-home worker) And there are now three other SH who want to open employee/client-based business's. Home based business's are a growing trend, and as long as it only requires a ph, the internet and an occasional meeting -- no problem!

Four business with two employees or four clients a day, substancially increases the elevator usage and waiting time, not to mention the packages and deliveries...Also WHO are these people who spend more waking hours in the building than a sub-let or owner, they are not bonded and have not passed the Boards approval. We dont have the staff for signing in and out, so are they wondering around the building? Employees know our scheduel. And what about insurance.
The list goes on... The bottom line is that we bought into a CoOp, not a ConDo or rental... So, to say this is personal, is to accuse the majority of Sh in the building, who are tired of waiting for the elevator and disturbed by all the strangers, agree with this point of view. Bottom line, its also a very real safety issue.


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Alice, I agree with the previous responses: First, check your proprietary lease to see what kind of businesses are permitted. (In our case, it's "professional" offices that don't have pedestrians from off the street walking in.) Even in the case of our medical office, the doctor's patients are prohibited from entering or waiting in the building's common areas (the doctor has a separate entrance to his office). These rules are in our proprietary lease, which all residents must follow.

Second, check the certificate of occupancy. This is on file through the city's Department of Buildings.

Third, check the zoning laws. But even if the city permits an office, that doesn't mean that your certificate of occupancy allows it. And even if the c. of o. doesn't rule out such offices, your proprietary lease may. Finally, check the house rules. While they are an extension of the proprietary lease, they may be more detailed than the p. l. and may have more information about such questions. Then again, the house rules may be silent on the topic. Still, worth a check.

Here's one of the bottom lines: If someone has a business in his/her apartment with clients coming in for meetings, who is liable if the client slips on the stairs?

I hate to always have to bring up a lawsuit, but we live in litigious times in a litigious city. The co-op must take reasonable steps to protects its investors (i.e. you & your neighbors) from avoidable expenses.

So I think you are doing the correct thing to check into the kind of offices permitted in your building.

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As always thank you for the information. We are concerned about issue of insurance. Both clients and employees (this includes interns and part-timers) are our concern.

We are lobbying to have the house rules changed... No clients or employees... otherwise you can work in your apartment... Home-based businesses are becoming the trend,,, We hope that the house rules will be changed to avert this growing problem.. We now have three other owners who want to open busnesses in the building -- with employees and clients... We are a fairly small (75 units) building with only one elevator -- and if you start to add up the numbers of daily elevator trips of employees or clienst of five businesses...,, it quickly equals elevator gridlock....Thanks,,, AT...

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Of course, each person who falls in a building premise will be a potential for lawsuits. Of course, it could happen to anyone, the nanny, the dog walker, the client or a visitor to a resident. Unfortunately, human beings stand on two legs and chances for falling are greater than four-legged animals when "strolling."

The main issue is could you run a business with employees or tons of disrruption in a residential aparmemnt. The answer is to be determined by the documents that you have agreed will cover the "USE" of occupancy and makes for taxes and assessed value of the property.

AdC



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energy conservation - susan harder Jun 25, 2007


Boards could save money and energy by switching out all regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. See EFI.org for a good deal on packages of bulbs.

Also, consider changing your outdoor lighting. All night lighting at any outdoor location that is not the primary doorway can be changed to motion sensor activated lighting. Also consider using a shielded light fixture for better visibility and energy conservation. When the light source is visible, glare is produced.

Susan Harder

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questionable conduct. - Tom (unsightly view) Jun 22, 2007


Is there any law/code that states one has to have shades/curtains etc, when one is intimate. We have a nightly show and it is not the sight we want to see from out terrace.I have mentioned it to the super across the street but he informs me his coop/board know about this but do not care as the individul is very wealthy and powerful.

Tom


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If they're doing it where you can see it, they're saying "bye-bye" to their privacy rights. So ...

Get yourself a video camera, connect it to your computer, and put them on the web --

LIVE FROM APARTMENT XXX, 123 MAIN STREET!

Charge money for it! Get someone to blog on it! EVERYone will be talking about it.

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And once online it will be there forever!

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Excuse me but the suggestions to Tom that he record the intimate acts of the people who leave the shades open and put them on the Net were inappropriate and childish. They also don't answer his question. He doesn't want to see this from his terrace and he asked what he can do about it.

Tom: If the super says that coop won't do anything because those people are wealthy and powerful, talk to your lawyer. Maybe you can get their name and send a letter respectfully requesting that they draw their shades. Maybe the letter should come from your lawyer. You can probably at least figure out the apt number and send the letter to "Residents of Apt XX". Or send it to the coop's board. Let your lawyer advise you on this. Another alternative may be to call the police - not to report them but just to ask what you can do.

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Respectfully, BP, I'm not so sure that those suggestions were inappropriate. Ever since Rodney King, people have been visually documenting activities they find wrong so that they can furnish such documentation to people or agencies that may be in a position to take concrete action. I don't think that there's anything wrong with documenting those activities and their context. (Though I do think that it would be inappropriate to charge for it!) Get concrete proof to buttress your case.

Also, to AdC, Tom's own co-op board may take issue with him constructing barriers on his terrace.

Do talk to your lawyer, though, Tom. Good luck!

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GK - OK, I'm for videotaping things people feel are wrong so they can give it to people or agencies that may be in a position to take action to correct it. What I meant was I'm not crazy about more videos of people engaging in intimate behavior (and charging for it - ugh) on a website. Aren't we overloaded with that kind of stuff on the Net already?

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"Aren't we overloaded with that kind of stuff on the Net already?"

(lol) We are indeed.

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The problem is who draws the gun first! In your case, your "rich and powerful" are probably unaware that they are providing a free show that may not meet the expectations of the captive audience.

In your case, you may opt for privacy shades in your balcony too! If the site of two lovers is embarrasing because you are concerned for your children or friends when they visit you, then you must limit your view and those of your friends by building your own barriers.

As adults, we can train our eyes not to go in the direction of the Lovers of Verona that would go beyond the balcony scene. Unfortunately, they are in the intimacy of their apartments and they may, e.g., run naked and do other things that may not meet your approval. I am thankful that the problem happens in the view of a few, but not at Central Park where they will be exposed to all as long as the public censors (the police) take them for appropriate violation.

You have a tough one that I'm afraid you will not resolve to your satisfaction.

AdC

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While I respect your answer (and have read many of your previous responses)I would like to elaborate a little more. I am of the opinion if you are paying a hefty price for an apartment with a view then you should be able to enjoy it.
(not the case here). You briefly mentioned screens/barriers?this will not work on our terraces. This individulal is very much aware of what he is doing as he purposely opens the shades, has high powered lighting, and tapes his activity. Hate to say it but these are orgies. Should our tenants, guests, and young children be subject to such activity, I think not.

Tom

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Tom: Your neighbor "purposely opens the shades, has high powered lighting and tapes his activity" ? Apparently, you see a videocam and more than intimate activity in his apt.

I found some interesting court case notes on the Net. I've copied them below. Read them carefully. It would seem that your neighbor is guilty of indecent exposure, a criminal offense. It would also seem that the answer to your problem is clear. Call the police when activity in your neighbor's apt is going on and let them see it for themselves!

CORE CRIMINAL LAW SUBJECTS: Crimes: Indecent Exposure

United States v. Graham, No. 01-0227 (in order for the indecent exposure conviction to be legally sufficient, the evidence must show the exposure was, among other things, "willful," "indecent," and in "public view." -
exposing oneself while in one’s own house can constitute the offense of indecent exposure, as long as it is willful).

United States v. Graham, No. 01-0227 (there are two distinct types of indecent exposure: (1) exposure in a public place, the very fact of which tends to prove it was willful, and (2) exposure that does not occur in a public place but which, instead, occurs in a nonpublic place such as one’s privately-owned home; the mere fact of this second type of exposure does not prove it was willful, but it may still constitute the offense of indecent exposure if other evidence proves that it was).

United States v. Graham, No. 01-0227 (appellant exposed himself in the bedroom of his home – clearly a nonpublic place; but he did so willfully by inviting his babysitter into the bedroom and then allowing his towel to drop in front of her; in this way, he made certain that an unsuspecting and uninterested member of the general population had no choice but to see him naked; that is indecent exposure).

United States v. Graham, No. 01-0227 (the focus of indecent exposure is on the victim, not on the location of the crime - the offense is committed regardless of whether it takes place in the bedroom or on the street; the purpose of criminalizing public indecency is to protect the public from shocking and embarrassing displays of sexual activities; a person need not be in a public place to be a member of the public).

United States v. Graham, No. 01-0227 ("public place" means a location that is public; and, consistent with a focus on the victims and not the location of public indecency crimes, "public view" means "in the view of the public," and in that context, "public" is a noun referring to any member of the public who views the indecent exposure).


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Our House Rules state: "All windows must be equipped with shades, drapes, blinds, or other appropriate window treatment befitting a residential building."

Although our House Rules have been revised several times, the original House Rules would have said something similar and I wouldn't be surprised if other buildings have such a rule. Maybe you could ask the Super across the road to check?

Angela

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The problem here is Angela he has them. He just feels it is not appropriate to use them I guess.

Tom

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I agree that once its on the Web, its there forever, and you could be moving into very tricky territory.

Have you called in other witnesses. Board Members, neighbors, and manangement.

Go to your local police station. They have a division that can give you advice. Fill out a complaint. And sign it! The record, witnesses, complaint discussions,,, will back up your case.

Document and keep everthing. A one-sentence Email is documentation.

I do agree, that since its obivous they know what they are doing, you could vido tape it for evidence --BUT, do have as many diverse witnesses as possible.

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The guy obviously likes to be seen, maybe he feels more powerful on display.
The Board in his building obviously is aware of this and does not wish to confront him due to his status. This plays more into his power in that he can do what he wishes, and when.

Both are guilty of class B misdemeanors and can be held liable. Perhaps if you cited the code (below and linked to) to the Board, and informed them of your intent to file formal complaint and charges, in addition to suing each of them corporately and individually for breaching their fiduciary duties as a Board member, this alone will be enough to make them move to action. If not, follow through.

the information you need is below, with a link to its source.

ARTICLE 245
OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC SENSIBILITIES
Section 245.00 Public lewdness.
245.01 Exposure of a person.
245.02 Promoting the exposure of a person.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcode.pl?frame=right2&code=NY&ls=claws&law=82&art=61


Good Luck,
~AR

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How about if it bothes you, DONT LOOK. I am sure he, she they dont go forever.

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It really does not bother me but we have a lot of shareholders that have terraces on that particular side of the building with very young children. Should I not be able to enjoy a nice quiet evening on my terrace without seeing this. I think so.

Tom

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Tom, sorry. Didn't mean to sound the way it did. Guess you have to be in that position (no pun intended) to see the gravity of the issue.
Kids are always a factor that need to be protected. If it was me I would take a few pictures and post them around the neigberhood.
Pg

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Please, remember that the Lovers of New YOrk (sorry, for locating them in Verona) happen to be in their own apartment and in their own bedroom.

For other people to take pictures and other form of filming may get them in more trouble than the intended purpose. If there is anything to be done, call the police, consult your own attorney now that AR has given you some very valuable information.

First, I am confused because if they are in the their bedroom, only perhaps two to four terraces (not a lot of terraces) will have the priviledge of what are considered "orgies" during unpredictable hours of the night since they using bright lights. Only apartments in direct line with the apartment's bedroom in question can see the inside of another apartment, unless the orgies happen to be in the fire escapes, at the terrace edge or by the windows.

Although, Tom, you read my answer before and found it a bit insensitive, I also find your problem a bit like being disturbed by the sight of a bee polynating a flower when you are standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Your terrace with the view, seems to have more attraction around than the brick structure across the street, 50 - 100 ft away, from your building and the two individuals conducting an orgy across the street.

So, act discretely and make your actions concrete.

AdC

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While I respect your answer, am I not correct (and all others) in saying that I should be able to sit on my terrace without seeing "this show". One has to remember that there are a lot of sharholdres with young children in the building and they may be not aware that little"Johnnie" and "Mary" looked out their bedroom window and guess what they say. Would this not have a physchological effect on the children. And just to throw it out there, this is not a husband and wife/girlfried.

Tom

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Non-Union Super Needed - John in Westchester County Jun 22, 2007


Any suggestions where to find a superintendent for West. Cty. coop?

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John, here in Manhattan there are a number of " supers clubs" that have employment committees etc. e.g. Emerald Guild, Hibernia association, NY Building Managers assoc, to name but a few. I would say respond to this site with a brief description of the property (number of units,staff,job description,compensatin package etc) and lets take it from there.

FN.

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Job positings and more http://www.nysupersclub.org/jobssupers.htm. Good luck

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John, maybe you should contact the management company and ask them, they sometimes have handymen in other buildings that may want to move up to being a superintendent.

Good luck

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You already have trusted contacts that your building employs, e.g.: house electrician, mechanical engineering firm, HVAC firm, plumbing contractor, fire detection system firm, compactor maintenance firm; elevator repair firm, painting contractor firm, etc.

All deal with superintendents in your neighborhood. They usually know who is looking, who might be interested and who is "good".



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Share Holder Abatement - Michael Tambasco Jun 20, 2007


I bought a co - op about 14 months ago. I just got an assement for this year. I have to pay double the maintence for this month. The problem is no one I speak to has to pay this but me. They all received a shareholder abatement for this year. The co - op board held their abatement instead of charging them for this assesment. The property manager says its my responsibility to file for the abatement. I spoke to people who claim to have never filed for this abatement. They received it anyway. Is there anywhere I could look to see who is responsible for filing for the NYC Shareholder abatement?????

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Your managing agent did not inform you correctly.

It is the shareholders responsibility to apply for the star/veterans/clergy tax abatements. The Cooperative and Condominium Abatement yo are refering to is provided to each apartment (with exception to sponsor and investor units). It is the managers responsibility to update the form sent to them each year by the NYCDOF and return it on time. However; even if he neglected to do so, and unless it was an exempt unit, you still should have recieved an abatement under the prior residents name, then transferred to yours.
Also, 14 months indicates that you will be missing the 07-08 abatement also, so make sure this is done.

You can see the website below for more info, call your manager, his director if you must, but do not lose out on this.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/property/property_tax_reduc_individual.shtml


Best
~AR

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Hi, Michael,

Did you buy your apartment from the sponsor?

Steve

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In addition to sponsor units, there are individuals who do not file for the credit or abatement because the unit was not their primary residence or just PURE AND SIMPLE NEGLECT.

However, don't worry about it, when you receive an abatement you must declare it through your tax form. Therefore, your tax deduction is reduced. So, in all, your tax contributions continues to be perhaps the same or perhaps you may safe a couple of $$.

AdC




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You can also email Ata: (he works for the DOF, and is the one to process the applications) He may be in a position to assist you better by explaining exactly why you did not recieve it and what you can do now to ensure you are going to recieve it going forward.
He has helped me alot in the past.

CoopabaT@finance.nyc.gov

~AR

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sponsor right to vote vs. elect - sally Jun 19, 2007


for the last 15 years, since the coop converted, out sponsor has not actually voted in the annual election. rather, he has excercised his right to "e;ect " one person (per the by laws>). suddently, in the last year ther eis a controversial (but fgood) new candidate for hte baord and they (board) is trying to ge thte sponsor to elect himself AND vote his shares for all other cadidadates (in an effort to keep out the new person) - anyone? it seems as if a predcedent has been set.

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My answer is below; however, it begs the question.. Controversial? why is the rest of the board, and the sponsor against this person, maybe there is some just cause? Ususlly when its the whole world against 1, there's a reason. Is the candidate really good for the Board then? good for the building? the corporation? or his/herself? Just a question.

If you are correct in what you say, then...

Unfortunately, when it comes to voting, there are no precidents. Each Shareholder, including the sponsor may vote (or not vote) thier shares in any way they like.
This person may wish to campaign thier cause and desire to become a Board member amung the other shareholders to obtain a larger amount of votes; perhaps gather proxies from other shareholders that are not attending, etc..

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Recording the boards vote - Chuck Jun 19, 2007


When our board votes on an issue, we report the decision as a collective one, and in the minutes we record "the board voted for, or against, X".

However, some board members want individual votes on a topic to be recorded. For example "Jim Smith voted for, Jane Doe voted against" etc.

How do other boards handle this issue

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at our building the board votes as a whole and the minutes reflect the total for and against. There is no names mentioned unless a board member wishes it stated for the record how she or he voted for the issue.
Pg

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If Shareholders dont know the voting record of Board members, how are we to judge thier business acume, knowledge of the building and personal or otherwise agenda.

This is how we judge our elected leaders.

We have two board members whose voting records have been a financial disaster for the building. (the also kept a lying/stealing super on because of personal favors) But they both are brilliant communicators. (makes excellent speeches at SH meeting) Fortunately a shareholder took the inicitive and after questioning each board member, published thier voting record. We voted one off the board, and basically nuturlized the other...

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If your board members are lying and stealing, vote them off the board! Knowing the way they vote isn't the issue, it seems.

As has already been mentioned, once a decision is made the board acts as one. Individual votes do not need to be recorded (I can't imagine any attorney suggesting such a thing) in part because Americans love lawsuits, and New Yorkers in particular. You'd be surprised, Alice, how many people will find the smallest reason to threaten a lawsuit.

If you want to know how board members feel about an issue, ask them! If they don't answer, don't vote for them!

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Wish it were that simple. Voting someone off a board, is not that easy. And without going into the long answer, everyone at Habitat knows this. The reality is that its not easy.

I agree about the lawsuits, but the Board has to be accountable. And, as long as Board members vote in good faith, without a personal agenda or otherwise, there should be no problem in publishing thier votes.

It took us four years to get rid (two finally moved) of our problem board member. The Sponsor still has a major block of votes, but he finally realized (after the third raise in maint) that this guy was the problem, and all the little favors he had been getting no longer added up.
The Shareholders who had been his supportors, were finally getting the picture, but it took us FOUR years...

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I certainly wish that making big changes were easy. To be fair, I don't remember anyone who posts here saying that voting the bozos out is, in fact, an easy thing to do.

It takes a lot of effort by one or two or several shareholders to make their neighbors realize what's' going on around them. And even that is a big challenge because people either want to believe that their leaders are honest people devoted to the common good or, what's worse, they're apathetic.

So congrats on making a change in only four years.

I'd like to add one other point. Just because there are maintenance increases doesn't mean there's a problem. In fact, without knowing the size of the increases you're referring to, I would say the opposite is the case.

That is, if maintenance fees are NOT going up, there's a problem.

Now before you think I'm a crook or just bonkers, remember this: In July your water & sewer rates are going up 11.5%. In March, your electricity rates may go up as much as 17%. Oil prices (to heat your water, if you have a boiler, and to heat your apt, if you have steam heat) have doubled in my three years on a board. Insurance rates after 9/11 have gone up 10%-25% or more. On top of that, the cost of the floor cleaner your super uses, the light bulbs, and even your lawyer's hourly rates are higher now than a couple of years ago.

So without a maintenance increase, your board would either be spending down its reserves to finance operational costs (a big no-no) or it would have to buy its supplies & professional services from some magic kingdom where inflation doesn't exist.

Everything from the price of a bagel to medical insurance is more expensive today than it was five years ago. (Except the Staten Island Ferry. That's still free.) So take this as tough love: You're a home owner. Get used to paying for the privilege.

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Steve, Thank you for your supportive words. And yes, apathy was originally our problem. But as the expenses went up, this began to drain away. For years noone came to the SH meeting but we now have almost 85% of the Shareholders represented at the SH meeting.

We also know that everything is going up, but unfortunately the maint increases in our building are only a very small part of the picture. And there is not enough room to go over the mis-handling (financial and structural) of our building for the last 20 years... Everytime the board peels away a layer, they find new problems.

But, the good news is that we have a new board, who understands that they are running a business, are working together, and hopefully will put us on solid footing.


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I'm glad to hear that you're able to see things so positively, Alice.

When I was a political science student, one of the basics of elective democracy we were taught was that the more comfortable people are about how things are going, the smaller the election turnout. Not until the people get upset does turnout go up. So your building is exactly typical in that regard.

As for your other problems, our board tells new owners a story not so different from yours. We've been a co-op for a couple decades, but in the 90s, when the economy took a real dive, there were more than a dozen defaults in our building. Maintenance was not being paid, and the physical structure was not being maintained. Because people were on the edge financially, maintenance was not raised (or was only marginally), leaving the corporation barely able to pay for its monthly bills.

Then things got better. We enacted a flip tax, which has given us a comfortable reserves fund that had never existed. Every year for the last few years we have had a small maint increase (1% to 2%). And we've been able to complete some significant capital improvements through careful planning and an assessment.

The building is in much better shape physically, as well as financially, which makes it more valuable both for the long-term residents (who benefit from a sound structure) and for the sellers (who can promote the improvements as a selling point).

So keep faith. And hey, why not run for the board yourself? It seems as athough you already know more about how the building is run than even some board members. What's more, you care! And that, honestly, is what makes all the difference.

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Steve,, Again thank you for your encouraging words. Because the old board had too many agendas of their own, and were making individual SH happy so they could have thier proxy, things like the flip tax was ignored. But it was the first thing that our new board voted in.

So we are on our way. And by the way, it really was a few dedicated individuals, who plan to live here long-term, who started and kept the revolution going. But we could have NEVER done it without Email. We stopped a lot of non-sense (renovations without permits, illegal sublets etc) with "Email Power". All the board and Mange need to see is a few emails come in, and they begin to backtrack very quickly..... So do pass this along.

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This is the way most buildings record votes (as Pg states), or should.
The minutes reflect how many for, how many against, and abstained. If a particular member wishes thier vote to be recorded with thier name, it may be done.
You are a Board, a team, when a vote is passed, it is passed as a majority and that’s really all the shareholders need to know.
The other Board member(s) know who is the one always going against the grain, or voting for his/her own benefit, and as a result, can vote against that person come the next annual meeting.

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I see this from our Board President receiving complains because one Board member is never recorded as voting against various questionable issues. Please advice!

"What.... does not understand, and any one involved in any coop can tell you is that debate and disagreement that goes on when it does go on behind closed doors is not appropriate to present in board minutes, which are used above all for the lawyers of potential buyers to evaluate whether a building is a sound investment for the potential buyer to be making.
Time and time again, ......would like to see “his voice” and “his opinions” expressed in the meeting which would be devastating to anyone trying to sell, as our building would be seen as troubled or at the least, in some sort of divided and tumultuous state. A lawyer would tell a potential buyer to avoid our building based on the discussions the minutes. The less said in board minutes, the better for all investors Minutes do not exist to be a manifesto for minority or majority positions…they are supposed to be almost telegraphic.
So besides the deeply paranoid and troubling sentiments expressed, as he is just plain wrong about both the collusion and deceit at work, he is also poorly informed the purpose of board minutes as the place for his positions to be reflected. This has been explained to him on numerous occasions, but he does not seem to get it and continues to harp on this issue."
Miriam



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purchase application packages - Carol - Habitat Magazine Jun 14, 2007


What procedures do any of you use to secure the confidentiality of the information supplied to the board in purchase application packages (SS#, bank and brokerage account numbers, etc)? Has this been talked about among your directors, or is this a non-issue?


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Once the board is done with a purchase package, the package is shredded. Our building purchased an industrial type shredder. The other option is to hire a shredding company, where the truck pulls up to your building and you can throw the package into the shredder.
PG

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We do the same in some of my buildings. The packages are shredded in the Board room at the meeting it is discussed at.

AR

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In our 500 unit co-op in NJ, each board member has a file cabinet drawer wherein confidential corporate papers can be storied and retrieved. This includes application packages.

Nothing is distributed to a board member unless it is in an envelope sealed with tape.

We have an industrial strength shredder (confetti, not strip) as there are now programs that reconstitute shredded documents. In Iran, after the shah was overthrown and the US Embassy overrun, the bags of shredded US documents where given to Iranian weavers who reassembled the pages.

We also have an external service that comes to our building and shreds (pulverizes) materials for us and provides a certificate of destruction.

Documents not immediately shredded are safeguarded in a locked cage.

Application packages are either destroyed immediately or safeguarded until destroyed.

Likewise corporate financial documents, arrears, payroll registers, etc. are subjected to the same process of shredding or safeguarding until destroyed.

None of these materials are discarded via the recycling route.

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At the end of the interview, board members return their packages to the applicant. If there's no interview then the packages are shredded.

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We also return the resale package to the applicant.


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Why return to the applicant?

What if a board member made a notation in the package and then you decline the applicant?
The notation might serve as a basis for a suit.

Suggest you don't return, but shred instead.

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We are smart enough not to make any notations on applicant's package.

Applicants like the fact that they get back their info.

If an applicant is refused we keep one copy in the office filed under "refused" This info is necessary if you go to court they want to know how many other applicants have beeen refused.

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"Why return to the applicant?"

In our building, purchase packages are returned to the applicant, which I think is very smart. Computer technology has made life better in so many ways--but it has also made things like identity theft much easier. If I hand over to a group of people a packet containing all of the information necessary to steal my identity, I'm much more comfortable knowing what exactly becomes of that information.

What if a board member forgets to shred the packet? What if a board member accidentally throws the packet in the garbage, and it falls into the wrong hands? What if (god forbid) a board member is unscrupulous?

Much better imho to let the applicant have full control over his or her most personal information.

One change that has been made in our building recently: purchase packages are no longer left in front of board members' doors by the management company. The last board raised that as an issue when a packet went missing. (The board president wanted to maintain that way of doing things, but wasn't able to work his voodoo on the rest of the board and was outvoted three to one. Buy packets are now distributed by hand.)

The most practical method I think (mentioned by another poster in this thread if I remember correctly) would be to leave the buy packets in a locked storage area/box where they could be retrieved by board members.

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Water Damage in Apt/who repairs? - WaterWorks Jun 14, 2007


During the really bad storm a month ago a leak permeated the roof and water leaked into the 1st floor unit causing the ceiling to collect water, forming a sagging crease in the down out of the ceiling. It looks like a big wrinkle. Upper floor apts were unaffected. The co-op had the roof leak repaired, who is responsible for fixing the sagging seam in the shareholder's unit, sanding, taping, painting etc? Thanks.

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The Co-op should be fix the plastering,sanding and one coat of paint if the damage was from the roof leak.

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Interesting what you are saying? Usually you get the top floor affected by water penetration thorugh the roof. However, there are reasons why sometimes water bypasses other floors, e.g., water goes down through a riser, beam, exhaust duct walls or other structure that allows water to travel with minimal or no damage to other apartments. However, the upper floor will sustain the damage.

My answer is the same: if you are sure this is a roof leak, the co-op must take care of the damage in a professional manner. According to the proprietary lease, the co-op is responsible for, not a coat of paint, but repair in a professional-like manner and PRIME. Sometimes, and depending on the extent of the damage (if small enough) and as a gesture of good will, if the resident has paint of his/her aparmtent, you may just tell the repair person to apply it after the damage has been primed. However, you do not want to start a precedent by doing a whole room, etc.

AdC

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