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Board members who gossip - HKM Apr 14, 2007


Recently a board member was gossiping to me about confidential coop information about a shareholder who has been a vocal opponent of board policies. The board member essentially accused the shareholder of bribery for special favors. This violates our board confidentially agreement and is completely unethical. Anyone have experience in handling this situation?


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HKM, are you a board member? Or is the gossipper (whom you have identified as a board member) gossipping with a "civilian"?

Board confidentiality is of critical importance. The private details we have about the financial and personal lives of our neighbors must never be shared casually, even among board members.

Your co-op attorney can provide you with ethical guidelines that the board can review and vote to adopt.


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


No, I'm a civilian. The gossiper is a board member making accusations about another shareholder who is an opponent of board polcies. In other words it was an attempt to discredit the shareholder and sway public opinion and possibly intimidate other opponents. It will be difficult to bring this issue to the board since it implicates one of their own and this board member has a bare majority of seats in support; the remaining seats are pretty much in opposition.


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That's a very serious situation. I think you are morally obligated to mention this to the board president because board members should not be sharing private info with other shareholders, especially to discredit them.

I suggest talking with the board president -- don't e-mail about this. Bring it up in a calm, non-confrontational way, such as by saying that you want to make the pres aware of a comment that you feel is inappropriate. You don't need to ask the pres to do something; he/she should automatically.

If you feel uneasy, remember that a board member could choose to share private info about you with others. Your talk with the board pres should put that activity to an end.

Finally, if you're incomfortable talking to the board pres, call the co-op attorney.

I am curious to read what others suggest.

Steve W


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Tell the board pres what the gossiper is doing. I assume from your last message he's spreading gossip/accusations to others, not just you. If the board doesn't know what he's doing, they must be told. If they do and don't try to stop it, they're as bad as he is.

The gossiper isn't one of "their own" (the board's). He's one of "everyone's own". If he felt you were a threat to him, I'd bet he'd do the same to you, or anyone else. If his accusations can't be proven with facts, he's guilty of slander. That prompts a question. HKM - does the victim of this badmouthing know what's being said about him? If so, he can sue the gossiper for slander if he wants to. That would be a private matter, not the coop's.

If the gossiper has little support, it shouldn't be hard to get him voted out. If other board members don't try to stop his activity, they should go too. I bet anyone who knows what's going on thinks: "If he discloses private info or gossips about X, I wonder what he may be saying about me."

The gossiper lacks key qualities that every board member should have - honesty, ethics and respect for others. By doing what he's doing, he's proving to everyone that he's not trustworthy. If a board member can't be trusted to uphold coop standards and not victimize others unfairly, he probably can't be trusted about anything and shouldn't be in a position of responsibility for the coop.


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


Thanks to everyone for your responses as a double check that this behavior is unethical and should prompt immediate action. A petition to call for a meeting to discuss the board member's actions and possible removal has been successful, however, the board member has refused to attend and instructed supporters to do the same and, surprisingly, some have agreed.

I'm not sure why telling people to NOT attend a public meeting isn't raising everyone's red flags.


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We are having a conflict we have 8 nominees for the board
three of them have been disqualified for nocompliances in
giving in their resume to run.

Now the board is split 3-3 and one side is refusing to
agree to the meeting, even though we have a legal opinion
that the disaqualied people did not comply with the
requirements.

Does anyone know what New York State Law provides for
in this situation? any help real fast if possible.

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Lynn -- According to NYState's Business Corporation Law (the "BCL") under which most coops were created and with which they must comply - an annual meeting of shareholders must be held every year. Also, check your bylaws, probably Article II. Your board can't refuse to schedule and hold an annual meeting. It's not a matter of board voting. You have to have the meeting. It's clear cut in the "BCL".

As for not getting resumes from people who want to run for the board: a) your coop governing documents, b) an existing board-enacted policy or 3) what was standard procedure in the past may dictate that submitting a resume is required.

You say you have a "legal opinion" that disqualified people didn't comply with requirements. It would therefore seem that some policy or statute for your coop requires resume submission in order to run for the board.

A question: Who disqualified those people and what do they have in writing to support their right to do this?
A suggestion: I'd also ask your "legal opinion" to show you where in writing requirements are outlined and how those people failed to comply with them.

We have nothing saying that resumes must be submitted prior to an annual meeting. We don't ask for them because we're fairly small (60 apts). Only in some years does anyone run for the board in addition to incumbents. If we have many new owners and a flurry of people who want to run in any given year, we mail a letter to all owners suggesting that anyone who wants to run send mgmt a resume by X date and all resumes received by X date will be sent with the formal meeting notice to help owners make informed decisions. In my coop's case, this doesn't prevent anyone from standing up at the annual meeting and saying he wants to run for the board even if he didn't send in a resume.

So... You must have an annual meeting. You should find out what your coop requires regarding resumes for candidates and where it says so, and your counsel should provide you with solid basis in fact for his "legal opinion."

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> Join the conversation Comments (5)


Thanks for the reply.

Our co op has a procedure that requires resume from
candidates so all shareholders have an idea of their
policies,

this year all resumes had to be certified mail return
receipt postmarked by 4/10/07. however some real
smart people decide to circument the system and send
e mails which was not designated as a means of delivery
these candidates were in legal opinion disqualified.

Now the board (3 of them support these candidates) want
their names on the ballot. We the valid candidates feel
this is not reight as the rules and procedurese were
clearly outlined.

So some board members are now saying they will not agree
to the annual meeting package to be mailed out the annual
meeting package to shareholders.

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Particularly in a small community, working to keep others off the ballot is usually the best way to guarantee a year of unproductive & unpleasant infighting.

Even though some candidates haven't complied with the rules, I suggest taking the high ground & being generous. Welcome them to the debate, focus on specific issues & style of governance, explain why your ideas & qualifications will best serve the community, & allow voters to choose.

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I forgot to remind you that these candidates could always be nominated from the floor at the meeting. Since they have board support, you should expect they'll be granted time to speak & that there will be ample write-in slots on the ballots.

It will be a more civil meeting & better serve voters if all candidates present as equals.

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Under procedures set up we do not allow nominations from
the floor. this has been the policy for over 15 years.

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If everyone knew resumes had to be sent via certified mail, my opinion is that those sent via e-mail shouldn't be part of the annual meeting package. If a coop makes exceptions to clearly defined rules/procedures on one issue, it could affect how any issue is handled. An "exception" could become expected for anything. The infrequent exception made in some cases (e.g., not charging a move-in fee if a tenant moves into a furnished apt) could become the rule instead of the exception.

On the other hand, if your board doesn't mail all resumes with the meeting package, it could create a lot of discord between now and meeting time among owners, and make for a contentious meeting, with time wasted if things get heated.

I still say rules are rules, and this case doesn't warrant an exception. But I'd suggest two things in an attempt to be fair to all and stem the rising tide:

#1 Ask counsel if there's anything applicable to your coop that says people can't run for the board on meeting night if their resume wasn't mailed with the meeting package or sent in at all. Not sure if it's "law" but my coop allows this and I know many others do too.

#2 A formal annual meeting notice is supposed to just state swhere/when/why the meeting will be held. But if #1 applies to your coop, a line could be added (with NO mention about resumes) that all those who wish to run for the board will have, say, 2 minutes to address attendees at the meeting. (An impartial party at the meeting should make sure this is adhered to for ALL candidates, note when they have 15-30 seconds left, and cut them off when it expires.)

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You say the petition was successful, implying the board president has called a special meeting. If so, just proceed...the fact that the offending member chooses not to defend himself should make your task easier. If you convince enough voters--& I agree the board member's behavior re: the meeting raises red flags, you've resolved the problem [& sent a message that other board members will remember for some time].

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I don't know whether or not you're also on the Board, but regardless of that answer, this scenario is dreadful. Board confidentiality is an absolute; having a gossip on the Board is an inexcusable breach of ethics, and the Board should act swiftly to constrain this individual.

Separately, if a Shareholder IS bribing someone on the staff or Board for special favors, this is also a breach of ethics by the Board/staff member, which also needs to be dealt with immediately.

If you are not on the Board, alert someone who is. If you are on the Board, ask for a special meeting to deal with the situation.




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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


Confidentiality is critical and something board members too often fail to honor.

If you ARE a board member, tell the board member gossiper he's guilty of a serious breach by disclosing private info about a shareholder. If it's in your governing documents, a board can vote someone off the board for good reason. Maybe your board should think about removing the gossiper from office for this breach.

If you ARE NOT a board member, tell the board about this and insist they address it immediately with that member. But don't repeat the private info to them - or to any other shareholders. If you feel it's warranted, you could inform fellow shareholders diplomatically of this breach and try to get the gossiper voted out at the next annual meeting.

Whether you are a board member or not, tell the gossiper he could be sued for slander for telling you and/or others a shareholder accepts bribes for favors. If he has solid evidence of it, he should present it, otherwise he should keep quiet. Is he saying it because the shareholder is a vocal opponent of board policies and he's afraid he won't be reelected? Maybe the shareholder wants support against standing policies and hopes to get on the board himself?

The gossiper has a reason for his claims. Maybe they're in the coop's best interests. Maybe not. In any case, private info about a shareholder must remain private, and unless the gossiper can prove his accusations of bribery, he should be instructed to keep quiet or removed from office. Just my opinion.


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Yes, it is unethical but a board member who gossips should be warned on the spot that the behavior is not only unwelcomed, but the board will take action on such a person.

AdC


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Condo policy on film shoots in units - NSB Apr 13, 2007


A few unit owners in our condo have recently asked permission to allow commercial film (movie) shoots in their units. The Board is very hesitant, but not dead-set against. Does anyone out there have written polices on shoots in units that I can use as models? Thanks.


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A friend of mine allows the use of his apartment for a weekly crime drama. I will see what I can get on it for you.

Fat Nickie.


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Looking forward to your response, Fat Nickie!

Is there a way to list your apartment/building with production companies to let them know they're welcome to film in our building?

A few years ago, before I was on the board, one of the TV cop shows asked to film in our building. The board said no because they were afraid of damage to public areas. Now, we're hardly a fancy building -- pretty basic, in fact, with plenty of scratched walls and cracked tile. I can't believe a film company wouldn't make a certificate of insurance available.

Now other buildings around us are used for films. I hope we haven't missed out.

Fat Nickie, if you find out what your friend's building charges for the right to film in it, please let us know.

steve w


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)


I did not go into the fees charged for shoots. He did inform me that the crews are very professional and responsible. Some of the issues to be concerned with are.

* Keep your shareholders informed of when shoots will take place.

* Makeing sure the walls and floors are protected as heavy equipment will be rolled around.

* Many will have their own touch up crews if hallways etc get damaged.

* They may need to hook up to the buildings electric panels.

* Be aware that shoots may run later than scheduled.

* Security issues.

* There will be a lot of traffic in/out of the building.

* The location manager should be able to answer all you questions/concerns.

FN.


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it is $4-5k a day to the building of a coop or condo is publiic areas are used and about 4k as a fee if they are just passing through the common spaces to get to an apartment. for the apartment owner it ragnes about 5k depending onthe budget of the movie company.


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TITLE Hollywood Shuffle
DESCRIPTION Getting Hollywood to film in your building can pay off...
TOPIC Access
AUTHOR Frank Lovece
MAGAZINE ISSUE June 2006 - Number 224
ARTICLE TYPE Feature
PAGE # 26-34



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TITLE Hollywood on the Hudson
DESCRIPTION Extra income from film and TV productions
TOPIC TV
AUTHOR Rob Cummings
MAGAZINE ISSUE May 2004 - Number 201
ARTICLE TYPE Hotline
PAGE # 43-45

ABSTRACT Film and television production bring over $1 billion a year to New York City. How can your building get a piece of the pie? This article discusses what's involved in using your co-op or condo as a set, including expected income, inconveniences, and necessary precautions.



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Folks,

Not to throw water on a party, but what happened to the mantra: “quiet enjoyment” to which all residents are entitled?

The activity does not pass the test, so we would not approve.



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Re: ID theft protection - R Apr 13, 2007


As board member I am being refused copies of any documents which contain the signatures of the board officers, ie contracts, loan documentations, etc. because of fear of identity theft as their signatures appear on these documents. Therefore, I am expected to review at the board meeting, 250pg loan document & give it back or go to the lawyers or managing agents office. When suggesting that signatures be blacked out, answer was that is is too time consuming as many pages have their signatures. It is my understanding that BM should have access to all documentation. by the way our attorney as advised me that I can only get copies of documentation if approved by the board. Please adivse.


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Convincing the Board - BP Apr 11, 2007


I'm on my board a long time. We have very little debt and a reasonable reserve. For years I've asked my board to paint resident service areas, patch holes in storerooms to keep out mice and bugs, and do general repairs in bldg rooms that haven't been touched in years. Total cost is $4K-$5K.

They say why spend money on areas visitors don't see. They want to redo the lobby for $50K only because they want a more "modern" look, and to redo our landscaping which is fine and thriving. I know curb appeal is important but how do I convince them some bldg work has to be done and the cost won't break our bank? I feel like doing the work myself (which I won't) but this is very frustrating.


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I know what you mean and believe me, I am with you. If your lobby and landscaping is still in good shape, it may need some retouches at lower cost to make it look refreshed. HOwever, total care of the building is important to even increase general quality of living of the building.

Years ago, the compactor rooms in my co-op were painted, holes patched to prevent bugs, and new ceramic tiles were used to make the room look nicer. The cost was less than $2,000. Interesting enough, many residents put down the project and even came to say they looked like shower closets, etc.

A year later, they were praising the look of the place and what a great idea was to do them over.

In your case, learn from water and wind. The elements will not break or wear the rock in one day, but over a period of time. If I were you, I would go to the pet shop and contribute to the point by planting some mice and roaches to add to the point! Well never mind devilish idea. When budget time comes, try to convince the board to put a discretionary amount of money such as $4K or $5K to do minor projects that will contribute to the enhancement of "occult" areas of the builidng.

Good luck!

AdC


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Thanks for the advice. The property manager and I have tried to work money into the budget for minor projects and my board won't go for that either. And these are different board members, not all the same ones every year. They don't get it that because a bldg hasn't caved in doesn't mean it doesn't need work to keep it in good shape. Maybe something has to cave in before they got the picture. ugh


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A problem that I see in many board members is their lack of interest for the physical plant. I have told board members to come for a walk on Saturday or a Sunday to look at all the problems. GREAT IDEA!!! but the words do not follow the action.

So, when I tell them that we need to excavate certain areas of the foundation because of water penetration, they look incredulous.

What can I tell you. Unless it happens in the apartments of those who serve, it is not considered life threatening. No wonder you find individuals with garage doors that make noise, yet they questions whether the co-op needs to pay for it, or the gas leak behind the wall and who to charge for the problem.

AdC

AdC


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That is the problem with some people on boards. They are there to service themselves only with no regard to anything else that happens to shareholders. I too am in the same boat. Can't get the board to focus on anything small that will aid in the long run. Keeping bugs and rodents out of a building is more important in the long run than having a pretty lobby. Where did these myopic people come from and when are they leaving? People elected to boards should be looking at the big picture to run their buildings


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I have found over the ages, that a building that has the mechanical areas, basements, elevator rooms, etc., clean, painted and well lighted add to the motivation of the staff. It also gives the staff pride. In other words it is not a dingy place to work. Also, the attitudes of contractor change as well, when they work in such well kept buildings (they tend to do a less sloppy job). While these areas are hidden to most people, so are the rewards of their good up keep.
It is rather simple, pay a little now or pay much more later as the cost may end up costing more then just money later.
Not sure if I am making any sense.
PGrech



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When prospective buyers have building inspectors come, they often look at "private" areas, and these inspectors will note how well you maintain the building as a whole. Exterminators, contractors, and other vendors notice these things, too.

Our building has made an effort to maintain such spaces, and I speak from personal experience; our building has a reputation as "well kept." It makes a real difference in attitude from outside visitors.


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Thank you for giving another perspective of the positive.

You're absolutely right! It adds to motivation, it adds to perception of vendors and inspectos.

I would say that in my builidng, we have tried to keep these areas painted, and above all clean. In fact, the staff is reprimanded if they allow vendors to be sloppy in these areas. There is no reason why a vendor is paid for a service and leave things in worse shape.

Finally, the fact that clean areas are a morale booster to employees is a fact and I thank you for those good reminders!

AdC


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When my children were in junior high school in Rockland County (previous residence), the principal and I were very well acquainted as we both were active Scouters.

The story he related to me, which is probably germane here, was his philosophy on graffiti. Basically the custodians had standing rules that graffiti needed to be cleaned or painted within minutes of discovery as one begets many.

Likewise in a co-op, a failure to pay attention to detail in one area, so begets poor or slovenly practices in many areas. Some practices may even give rise to hazardous conditions that could lead to injury. A case in point is our indoor and outdoor parking areas. As soon as a vehicle is discovered with an oil leak, absorbent materials are applied and the resident is admonished to remove the car and have it repaired, lest oil accumulations lead to pedestrian slips or falls and damage to the protective coatings.

While we don’t “fine” in our building for infractions by shareholders, we do admonish via formal letters.



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Don't quote me on this Ted but I think they refer this as "the broken window theory". If left unchecked it becomes two, three, etc windows broken.

FN.


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I agree that poorly maintained bldg areas can be hazards. Our 2 stairwells were used by everyone, including movers, during our 8-wk elevator upgrade in '05 and a power failure in '06. Some residents use the stairs daily for exercise. Steps have cracks/broken edges. You think I get my board to patch/paint the stairwells? Last time was 1997. They won't even spend money to just repair the faulty steps. I also suggested battery-operated stick-on lights for stairwells in case of future power failures. They said no to that too. I guess someone has to fall down the stairs and break a leg (and probably be sued) before my board wakes up.

I'm tempted to ask shhldrs at the annual meeting to vote on allocating, say, $20K for small bldg jobs. I'd avoid saying our boards repeatedly refuse to do it. If I can't avoid saying that, my board will resent me for going "straight to the people". I'd rather not do that anyway, but I'm at a loss for other solutions to this. Anyone have more ideas?


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I agree with each and everyone of you on the above. It should be the upkeep and maintenance of the entire property.

Should we not worry about the service entrance as many shareholders/guests come in the main entrance anyway?

Not many people use the storage facility in the sub cellar so that is OK I guess? (why sweep and mop it)

It is the housekeepers that mess up the laundry room, so let them sort it out.

No,no,no, last time I checked this was part of the property. And yes, shareholders do notice. A good superintendent will perform periodic inspections, write up punch lists and if it is within his/her power take care of it. If funding is needed the super should bring it to property manager/boards attention (documented of course)

Fat Nickie




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Sometimes in situations like these it's best to get back to the basics and see if the Board is in compliance with governing documents and applicable law.

Maintenance of common areas is one of the Board's major responsibilities. It seems that the "minor" repairs, especially those to keep out vermin, are unavoidable. There could even be code violations there. Not repairing these areas could be putting the building at risk in a number of different areas. A Board that does not act could open itself to fines and/or lawsuits.

Regarding the facelift, again, the Board has fiduciary responsibility to the owners. Is the facelift in the best interest of the building? Can the Board's decision stand up as "prudent business judgment."

Otherwise, think about a vote by all shareholders. There may even be a clause in your governing docs that requires a vote if capital expenses exceed a certain amount. If you go that way, make sure the shareholders know the impact the costs would have on the building’s finances.

Where are you in the lifespan of the building's major components? Will your building be able to recover the cost of the facelift before it's reasonable to expect, say, an elevator or boiler replacement?

Finally, maybe you can get some compromises to reduce the costs of the facelift.



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board disagreement - Anonymous Apr 10, 2007


One of our shareholders just moved in this year and uncovered a pre-existing condition within the walls of their aprtthat will result in the bldg having to repair with an outside plumbing company. In addtion, most of the work will be done in the bldg outside the shareholders apartment. This also opened up several other issue within the bldg that will require repair.

The board wants to charge the shreholder for everything and I feek this is wrong. what do we do. Shouldn't tne bldg's insurance pay as the shareholders ins already denied claim


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Again, the condition is important. There are conditions that do not make the building to collapse, but if the condition is dangerous or is damaging the co-op and other units, then BE THANKFUL, take care of the problem and BE DONE!

I don't understand a board who is afraid to fix things. If ASSESSMENTS are required to take care of the problem, SO BE IT! After all, boards are responsible for conditions that they know that may threatened lives or major catastrophes!

Our building had two joist issues discovered after the resident moved out; so we bit the bullet and took care of it. It cost $5000 to fix the problem, but we do not have a whole room collapse into another person's apartment with potential for injuries.

AdC


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there was a pre-existing gas leak in one of the main risers that was caused(many years ago) by a long screw placed in to the wall to hang something up. The new shareholder uncovered this and their Ins. will not pay becuase they did not cause the leak.

It turns out that there is more work being done for items not up to code that have nothing to do with the leak itself. (these repairs were picked up by the dept of bdlgs)


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Please no more anonymous posts. Give yourself a name (even Mary Jane) so be it. Then we know who we are responding too. Its impossible to respond to anonymous. (now was that anonymous that posted the question, or anonymous that was responding?. See my point

Bob.


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Yes. Point well taken. Do you have a response?


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I am getting how this works now. Yes. Point well taken. Do you have a response?




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It is acknowledged that the shareholder did not place the screw in the wall that severed the riser. Two lines were shut down and all of the work was done by a well known plumbing company in NY. The screw was so old that it had the concrete of the wall all over the screw. It was probably done years ago by either the former shareholder or a worker in the bldg.

The shareholder wants to do work but the board will not let them do anything until they clear the additional 17k plumbing bill added to their maintenance. The shareholder was advised to make an offer to the board to settle. The board, knowing all of the facts, will not budge.



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Agreed,however it came to a standstill and the shhldr was not allowed to do future work unless they cleared this bill. As Attny fees would be in excess of the 17k,Shldr reluctantly offering 5k to settle just to move on.

do you think this was not a smart move by the shldr based on the circumstances?

Regards




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First, you should rationally address each topic, i.e., the nail has nothing to do with the out of code work. So, the fact that out of code work is being done does not mean you are to hang the bill for a nail.

Staring here...

(1) There are many things that will accidentally cause problems in common areas. In this case, a nail that penetrated or broke an old pipe. However, the nail was not driven by the current shareholder, or you cannot prove that this is the case.

Then, the co-op as the ultimate landlord for the building has to step in. Tough! Did you have the gas turned off for the entire building??? If this is the case, then I feel sorry for the co-op.

(2) Work out of code: A co-op should have an alterations / renovation policy and anyone who is to do work in a building should submit papers to the co-op for review. Demand licensed plumbers and electricians, review certificates of insurance, find out from the code what types of work require permits. Obviously, you cannot allow shareholdersto do work w/o the co-op knowledge. People usually have good intentions, but they are probably as ignorant as your board when it comes to renovations.

AdC


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It is acknowledged that the shareholder did not place the screw in the wall that severed the riser. Two lines were shut down and all of the work was done by a well known plumbing company in NY. The screw was so old that it had the concrete of the wall all over the screw. It was probably done years ago by either the former shareholder or a worker in the bldg.

The shareholder wants to do work but the board will not let them do anything until they clear the additional 17k plumbing bill added to their maintenance. The shareholder was advised to make an offer to the board to settle. The board, knowing all of the facts, will not budge.


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Well, in this case, let the shareholder sue the co-op and be finished. For $17K, I will do it if in the case of the shareholder.

A board that cannot distinguish night from day should be fired when elections come!

AdC


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Agreed,however it came to a standstill and the shhldr was not allowed to do future work unless they cleared this bill. As Attny fees would be in excess of the 17k,Shldr reluctantly offering 5k to settle just to move on.

do you think this was not a smart move by the shldr based on the circumstances?

Regards


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Agreed,however it came to a standstill and the shhldr was not allowed to do future work unless they cleared this bill. As Attny fees would be in excess of the 17k,Shldr reluctantly offering 5k to settle just to move on.

do you think this was not a smart move by the shldr based on the circumstances?

Regards



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Well, what's done is done. If the shareholder caved in, that's its problem.

However, the board who pressed so far should go to bed with not such a clean conscience. Too bad!

AdC


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Thank you for your comments and insightful thoughts. If the board were to no charge or settle woth the shhldr, do youknow how would they absorb the cost? Is the only way by assessment or do they take the money from the reserve fund? Have a nice day


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I tell the board at budget time not to cut their nails too short since there is a need to scratch money from stones if necessary. With this said, not only do we pad our budget a bit to take care of this contingencies, but if necessary and depending on the magnitude of the repair, you either go to reserves and/or assess to replenish your reserves.

I find it EXTREMELY unethical to charge for something that was there and was found through incidental construction.

Case in point, last year we uncovered an A/C that was pulled from the wall by God knows what renter or shareholder at one point in the history of the co-op. The co-op found the problem because a commercial space that had not been rented in years was getting water through the head of the window in beautiful days. The problem was traced back to the unit above. The co-op, not only paid for the sleeve ($270) but for its installation. If this story could have cost more to the co-op, the co-op would have taken care of it, because the board knew that the sleeve was not taken by the person.

AdC


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No Subject - Anonymous Apr 10, 2007


Do all coops have nominating committees? and is this a way of the board obtaining as much control as possible over the coop?


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How do you recruit your board in your co-op?

First, one should learn from politics. Some forms of democratic governments throw out their legislative bodies if the elected president and the legislative body come from different parties. This is done to eliminate the wasted time arguing party issues.

Second, a board may look for shareholders who may exhibit certain characteristics: discretion, good judgment, vision,initiative and show some preocupation for the property as such. (No need for PhD's or extremely impressive credentials - I know many "well educated" individuals that you question their practical sense).

Obviously, to wait for surprises at the annual meeting is foolish for a board. You may get a shareholder who may try to advance its own agenda, or you may get a shareholder with mental issues (certified, of course!) attempt to run for the board. There are many shareholders who may not know these individuals and when they present themselves they may sound impressive. So, shareholders may be willing to give them a try to the detriment of the co-op.

Obviously, a Nominating Committee should not be controlled by the board, and the committee should do the most to make sure that information on each individual or even informal meetings are held to promote all the candidates. However, from the many years on the board, I think that a good board should try for sharholders with the right skills sets to make a productive board member who will bring advancement rather than division to the corporation.

AdC


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thank you. Do most bldg's have term limits for President, etc....?


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Speak with your co-op counsel as to how you go about instituting terms if this is perceived as desirable, whether an Amendment is required or just a simple Resolution of the Board.

Now... terms may be good or may be bad. As they say, every action has an equal but opposite reaction. Some presidents and board members do a great job. Consequently, if they like to serve, then you may be at an advantage. However, as long as you have new members who get into the the board and are trained you have succession. Contrary to what many participants of this chat room say, presidents and board members are not all on ego trips, or are controlling. So, each situation is special and temrs is just a matter of preference.

AdC


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Your by-laws will tell you if term limits already exist. If they don't and you want them, you'll have to amend the bylaws, which probably requires a vote of all shareholders.
I would suggest that before you go that way to limit only the terms one can sit in each office -- that is, one could be president no more than three terms, but membership on the board can be six years, or even unlimited.
Remember that the more vacancies on your board, the more volunteers in your building you'll have to recruit for this thankless job.


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We have a shareholder who left because of health reasons, got the operation, recovered and was re-elected to board for a two year term. And there are some shareholders who better not even think of running for the board again. They will be met with serious protest. But so far we don't have terms limits.


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Term limits can be good in some cases. New board members can bring fresh ideas/perspectives to the table or weed out self-serving or ineffectual members. The best board is a mix of new and old. Those who aren't new provide stability, experience and continuity which every board needs.

Term limits can be bad too. Board vacancies don't always prompt people to run. What if no one runs? What if a few people get elected as a slate and have majority control? If they're new and don't know what they're doing, it can be a disaster - especially if they share a personal agenda and want to do things their way and get what they want.

Term limits can also be a problem in smaller bldgs. Board members may try to get certain people to run. They may convince someone but if that person's heart isn't in it, that won't make for a good board member. It's hard to get an ongoing flow of new board members in smaller bldgs. If you know most/all of your shareholders, think about the ones who probably wouldn't run because they're:
-- not interested enough or don't want the hassle
-- are mainly focused on their work/career
-- often work late or travel a lot on business
-- have many other obligations (e.g. family)
-- may be very ill or elderly

Then there are those who don't live in the bldg...aren't (in your opinion) qualified or whom you don't want on the board...are very new to the bldg and (in your opinion) should get a better "lay of the land" before they run for the board...never come to an annual meeting or even send in a proxy. There may be a few who own two or more apts. After you eliminate all these people, you may have a handful who could be potential board candidates in any given year - if they want to run and, of course, they'd have to be elected.

Shareholders in my bldg (60 apts) voted down term limits a few times. Almost all felt it's unnecessary. But as AdC said, each situation is special. Whether a bldg is large or small, it depends on the board, how effective it is, and what the bldg needs.


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AdC makes some good points, but I've seen it work in the opposite way. In a coop where I used to live, the board essentially chose whom it wanted to fill vacancies. Then, at the annual meeting, the board nominated a slate. It happened amazingly quickly, as if it were an auction. Like this:
BOARD PRES: I open the floor for nominations.
FRIEND OF BOARD PRES: I nominate the slate.
BOARD PRES: All in favor?
And it was done. Not even a motion to close nominations, let alone a call for others to run.
So if there's to be a nominating committee, I agree with AdC that it should exist separate from the board.


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In addition to believing in independent co-op nominating committes, I believe in drumming up the business for the board. I speak to shareholders who have demonstrated many of the following traits and/or virtues: independent thinking, concern for the building, integrity, ethics, responsibility as a shareholder, and good judgment. I don't recruit among FRIENDS. In fact, I can say, as a board president I have NO FRIENDS.

Why do I recruit members for the board?

1. I don't want to come to an annual election with SURPRISES.

2. I would like to see a board composed of shareholders who exhibit the outlined traits and/or vitues so that their talents and decisions can be put to work, free from the influence of FRIENDS, who exercise prudence and fairness at the time of decisions, a group of shareholders who will work in harmony for the advancement of the co-op if elected.

3. I would rather present 5 good candidates for shareholders to select for 3 positions, but sometimes reality is that good people may not be available that year for personal reasons; but if I were to have them, I would present them all. Why? because it gives variety for shareholders to select from.

Two problems I had to face last year:

1. The investor who only had 10% came to the annual meeting with a second representative to be elected. The investor got one position. The second representative was outvoted because the board (to the dismay of the Habitat's forum readers) collected proxies to ensure a quorum and that business would be transacted and proxies were voted against the second representative.

2. A shareholder who has serious health issues and does not exhibit 90% good conduct and judgment submitted its name. Well, there were many new shareholders who do not know the person who casted a vote for this individual. Having a person on the board with such issues would have been as explosive as a roadside bomb.

AdC


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Assessment for Bldg. Improvements - Anonymous Apr 10, 2007


I sit on the board of my Bldg. and we just passed an assessment to the shareholders that have caused quite a stir. I happen t agree with the shareholders but do not want to tell the board this.

Th cost is too high and the approach was wrong.
The job should be done on a lower scale and in phases. How do I get theother members of the board to change things before the assessments begin?


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You should speak up and not let the board dictate how shreholders are to spend their money


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How many members does your board have? How many minutes, hours and facts did you gather to arrive to the assessment, the size of the assessment and the way the job is to be accomplished?

Obviously, a board should have carefully considered all the angles of the problem to be resolved and what is the impact of the assessment on the general shareholder population. In fact, board members may be also exclaiming Ouch!, but may have more facts on hand.

Unfortunately, shareholders have opinions and plenty of Ouch!, but may not know the full implications of the need for assessing.

What do you need? Articulate the need for the assessment and why the board has considered the assessment and the way the work will be done as the best solution to the problem.

Good luck!

AdC


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thabk you for the response. many shareholders in the bldg have approached me with these very same questions. the shhldrs have also submitted a petition to call for an open mtg prior to the first assessment in May. Are they entitled to know all of this? I would think so

They are also asking if they make the first payment of the year long assessment(maybe more)does that make them liable for the rest. On the flip side they want to know what the repercussios are for not paying and placing the money in escrow until sorted out.

your thoughts.....


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First, read or review your By-Laws regarding the power of the board to fix the budget and any additional amounts required to cover repairs, etc....Obviously, there is a need to refer to your documents so that people understand that the power of the board.

Second, a board out of courtesy should be upfront with shareholders. An open shareholders meeting helps dissipate any problems with perceptions. The board should put the cards on the table relating to the decision and shareholders, no matter how much lamentation and grinding of teeth they may do, will have to accept the decision. After all, shareholders elected them to do the HARDBALL decision.

Putting your assessment in ESCROW is a NO!!! Read your documents and find out if there is such an animal available in your case.

Again, BOARD members (who work for the advacement of the co-op) are elected for the purpose of breaking their heads in good faith to advance the business of the co-op by taking the required decisions, no matter how unpleasant or umpopular they may be. Shareholders have an obligation to question and find out understand the decision Also, they have the right to vote for the right board members and nominate themselves if they feel they have the character to make decisions that may not always be applauded.

Finally, a board that communicates and overcommunicates will get their point accross even when they know their decision may be unpopular. An open shareholders meeting is logical and good for the co-op when decisions that affect the lives of shareholders are on the table.

AdC


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I am the President of my board and although the board most probably can do what they want, if they are not polling the shareholders concerns and being prudent with the cost associated with the job, this should be raised by a shareholder as a representative of the non-board members then


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This is nonsense! But take it personally, but the main thing as a board member is to know what your responsibilities and obligations are as a director.

So, you assess because you have a fiduciary responsibility to (1) keep the co-op above water (2) keep the property in good repairs.

Now... part of the equation is to communicate. If boards do not communicate you raise the suspicious flag. So, present the issues as they are. If you are not elected again, SO WHAT!!! You took care of your responsibility.

A problem wih many boards is not knowing how to state regularly what is happening and the challenges that the board faces. Part of the problem is BLOWING YOUR OWN HORN and prepare the way for incrases, assessments and any measures that require tough decisions.

AdC


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This is nonsense! But DON'T take it personally, but the main thing as a board member is to know what your responsibilities and obligations are as a director.

So, you assess because you have a fiduciary responsibility to (1) keep the co-op above water (2) keep the property in good repairs.

Now... part of the equation is to communicate. If boards do not communicate you raise the suspicious flag. So, present the issues as they are. If you are not elected again, SO WHAT!!! You took care of your responsibility.

A problem wih many boards is not knowing how to state regularly what is happening and the challenges that the board faces. Part of the problem is BLOWING YOUR OWN HORN and prepare the way for incrases, assessments and any measures that require tough decisions.

AdC




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>>"You should speak up and not let the board dictate how shreholders (sic) are to spend their money."<<

This misconception is one of the toughest parts of being a board member: the idea that owners somehow don't have to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of their own property!

On the contrary, the reason a board exists is to determine just how shareholders' money will be spent to keep their investment safe, in good condition, and in a state to increase in value.

The board does not "dictate," Anonymous, it makes decisions on behalf of shareholders -- the very same shareholders who elected them. If you don't want others to decide how to maintain the property you share with them, either get a seat on the board or sell and buy a house.

Finally, remember that board members are shareholders too -- they are subject to the same assessments as everyone else.


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If you, as a Board Member, act outside that venue with your concerns -- i.e., as an "agitator" siding with other Shareholders -- you will end up alienating the other members of the Board, and could possibly split the whole co-op.

Do you really want to live in such a poisonous environment? If not, I strongly suggest you make your best case TO THE BOARD for handling the assessment differently -- and, if you cannot, that you resist supporting efforts to subvert the Board's decision. As a Board Member, your responsibility is to the health and safety of the co-op as a whole. If you cannot convince the Board of your logic, try discussing with the individual members their reasons for supporting the assessment; they may change your mind and/or help you better understand and support the Board's point of view.

Alternately, you could try to help the Board find a point of compromise between its position and that of Shareholders who are not on the Board (just keep in mind, such Shareholders have not been privy to ALL of the facts, and to the Board's deliberations, and therefore will not have completely informed opinions).

But I urge you not to foment a "palace revolution" -- that will only have really bad consequences, and it could take your co-op years to recover. Work towards consensus, always.


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inappropriate fees - frustrated Apr 10, 2007


Thank you all for this good guidance.

We did everything suggested here: wrote the letters, sent digital photos, demanded (to no avail) the plumbers' report, requested mediation (but received no response), stated we would take legal action and finally consulted an attorney.

Our conclusions to date:

-We can't force the board remove the charge without taking the coop to court. Court & attorney fees would likely far outstrip the sum in question.

--We were advised, alternatively, to either file a claim with our homeowners' insurance, or to pay the charge and to try to recoup the funds in small claims court. In the latter case, we're afraid we'll find ourself unevenly matched, against the corporation's attorney.

Certainly seems to suggest a need for "abusive board" legislation.

Further suggestions very welcome!




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mediation - firtinella Apr 10, 2007


You were right, all. The board refused. Looks like we're headed to court.

Thanks, anyway, for your good advice.


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Do you use specialized attorneys? - Fred Apr 07, 2007


We have an attorney that can handle pretty much anything, but we're doing some construction work and our board wants to engage a different attorney just to review the contracts of the engineer and construction company. Our attorney says reviewing the contracts is not a problem for him. Do we really need someone who specializes in construction just to read these contracts? Or is it better to stick with the attorney with whom we already have a relationship?


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We have a house attorney who handles closings, letters to shareholders, modest legal research, those in arrears (admittedly this is a partly sum as typically we are but $6,000 in arrears in a 500 unit high rise), ongoing contract renewals.

For some forms of litigation, e.g.: another building, next door, we employ another attorney, the municipality, etc.

For labor issues, e.g.: a new union or new union contract, we employ a labor attorney versed in NLRB activities and laws.

For capital improvement contracts we use an attorney, who himself, is a trained engineer.




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