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fire escape repair company recommendations - chuchuliga May 15, 2021

We are a small self-managed Soho coop looking for a company to inspect and repair our fire escape. Any recommendations?

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Financial records - belmarbeagle May 15, 2021

A newly elected treasurer wants to see the financial records of the coop for the last 5 years. The board president has denied that request. The treasurer is not a neophyte having been on the board before and serving as a treasurer knows she is entitled to view them. Outside of hiring a lawyer and making a big deal out of it what other steps should she take?

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What's the point of having a treasurer that doesn't have access to financial records?

I think hiring a lawyer and making a big deal out of it is an excellent idea, but another option might be to discuss the matter with the co-op's accountant at the next annual meeting.

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this pres is outrageous and worthy of your disrepect.
Agree with the advice to get a lawyer if talking with him doesn't loosen the finances for review.
I'd work on voting this guy out.

BYW, every shareholer should see the finances on a regular basis.
My first consideration is to think he is a crook.

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I fully agree with PhilC and Grant. This has a very bad smell to it.

As suggested by PhilC, I think the first course of action would be to have the treasurer ask the co-op's accountant for copies of the last five years of audited financial reports and annual budget projections. How the accountant reacts to the request will tell you a lot about how you proceed.

Another approach would be to contact the Real Estate Finance Bureau. They are a division of the NYS A/G's office. Either they can help you directly or point you in the right direction. If there is anything illegal going on with your building's finances, the A/G's office is who you want involved.

Your final recourse will be to have a group of shareholders hire a private attorney familiar with co-op and condo law. It won't be cheap, but ask the attorney if you can recover any expenses from the co-op and under what circumstances.

Have you considered putting up a slate of candidates to run for the board at the next election meeting? If it's not that far in the future, this might be the least painful way to gain control over your finances.

Best of luck to you.

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Why doesn't the entire board vote on this? The president doesn't have the power to unilaterally withhold documents from officers. If the full board votes to conceal past financial records from the treasurer, then I'd be worried for many reasons. The treasurer should have access to any financial records from the dawn of the coop onwards, in my view.

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refusal to credit annual tax abatement - recourses? - DM May 13, 2021

I will start afresh. If a coop or condo refuses to give eligible units their credits or unilaterally
decides to postpone them for 6 months or more beyond the legally required date, what resources
does an apartment owner have?
Small Claims court? If anyone has an idea it is most welcome. Thank you.

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When you say co-op or condo... which is it?

For a co-op, maybe you should point them to this:

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/RPT/467-A 6:

6. The commissioner of finance may impose, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, civil penalties on each member of a cooperative board of directors of no more than ten thousand dollars for the willful failure to credit fully any tax abatement granted pursuant to this section to eligible dwelling units.

Also, you might find it helpful to obtain the relevant renewal and change and tax benefit letters to see what is going on. You can do this with a FOIL request:

https://a860-openrecords.nyc.gov/

This is explicitly permitted/available under 467-A 8. Once you have the tax benefit letter, you can always just show up with it at the next annual meeting.

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Hi Phil -

Thank you for posting this. When DM first mentioned a deadline I had never heard of any civil penalties enabled in the legislation. This clears it up nicely.

Unfortunately, this particular section of 467-A is silent on how long a period of time must transpire before non-action by the board is considered "willful failure to credit fully any tax abatement." You wouldn't happen to know if a time limit is called out anywhere in this or other legislation?

Thanks!
--- Steve

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No coop or condo board has the legal authority to delay the credit of the abatement to eligible units past the required time.
It is bad enough that it has become routine to commonly assessed for the abatement as the idea was to equalized taxes for unit owners.

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I believe if you take a second look at the simple math, the abatement does equalize taxes with single family homes compared to co-op's. The state giving money back to a building does defray the cost of projects compared to asking shareholders to dig into their pockets, which is what they would have to do if the abatement wasn't eventually directed at paying for building costs.

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In most coops, you don't actually net any money from the abatement. It's typically flattened with an offsetting assessment in the same billing cycle. The abatement is "vapor money" that results in a reduced tax bill for the building, not actual cash that the coop is given to disburse.

That said, it is of course obligatory for coops to credit the abatement as a line item in your billing, even when it is immediately offset by a corresponding assessment. But it's not a hidden pot of gold that's being withheld; it's an accounting issue. It should definitely be credited/assessed within the fiscal year to ensure the accuracy of your annual financial report.

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I'd like to add a brief coda to Carl's good response, and answer a question I am asked every year. Why are the abatement amounts and the assessment amounts not the same?

The answer is that each is calculated by entirely different sets of rules by entirely different organizations.

Each apartment abatement is determined by the Dept of Finance using complicated algorithms. Two seemingly identical apartments can be granted very different abatement amounts. The list from the DoF is sent to either the co-op or the managing agent.

Assessments on the other hand must treat each share equally, by law. What most buildings do is divide the total amount of the abatement by the total number of shares, and assess each unit by the number of shares it owns.

The two are *never* the same. Some shareholders gain and some lose. If your abatement and assessment are identical, your managing agent did something very wrong.

I hope this helps new board members and especially new treasurers deal with those shareholders who end up in the loss column.

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Bidets in your building? - Marty Apr 29, 2021

There's been talk of allowing bidets in our co-op. Does anyone have them in their buildings? Can you provide feedback based on your experiences?

Do you need a plumber AND an electrician to install them? I think you do, but I'm not sure.

Do you allow them to any s/h or do you limit them to people who have a medical reason (and can supply documentation) for wanting one?

Do you treat them as a renovation and have the shareholder sign a document agreeing to be responsible for any and all repairs that may result from problems in the future?

If you have them, have you had problems with them or have they worked with few hassles?

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide.

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should not be a problem. bidet is very close to being a toilet. Both need a waste pipe and cold water supply, but a bidet additionally needs a hot water supply.
So if you have the floor space in your bathroom, feel free to proceed!
Hope you know how to lay out a floor plan or call a pro.

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When tax abatement credits must be given - DM Apr 26, 2021

By law, credit are supposed to be passed by coops to eligible units within the city's fiscal year when they are given vi a being applied to the coops tax bill.
This is by June 30th of every year. Our coop has been giving them in December - 6 months late.
What can we do about this?

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Try asking your co-op board about the delay. They may have a perfectly valid reason for waiting until the end of the year. For example, most co-ops approve a one-time assessment in the same amount as the abatement so they can recoup the budget shortfall due to the abatement. Your board may believe you're running a surplus, and are waiting until the end of the year to see if they can impose a lower assessment because of the surplus. That would definitely be to your benefit.

Try asking your board first, and let us know what they say.

--- Steve

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Hi Steve - I think it does not matter what the Board's reasons are. The cut-off date - legally - is the end of the fiscal year in which the credit was applied to the coop's overall tax bill. That is June 30th of every year. It is the law.

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Hi DM - I understand about the Jun 30th deadline for the credit being applied to the co-op's tax bill, but I've never heard of any deadline for when the abatement must be distributed to shareholders in the form of a maintenance credit.

If you have a link to a website where this is explained I'd appreciate your posting it here. I'd like to read it over and possibly pass it to our MA, who seem blissfully unaware of the deadline's existence.

Thanks!
--- Steve

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Steve - Any manager worth their salt knows this.

It is law that the credit must be given within the fiscal year in which it is applied to the coops tax bill. Ex credit given to coop on July 1 bill then credit to eligible shareholders has to be passed on by June 30th of the next year.
You can Google if you need a link.

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Hi DM - I did as you suggested and searched google for a copy of the law requiring the co-op tax abatement be distributed during the fiscal year in which the abatement is applied to the co-op's tax bill. Here is what I found:

"Remember that co-ops are not real property, and the coop corporation receives one property tax bill for the entire building, which it owns. Shareholders have a proprietary lease to occupy their specific apartment, and have shares of stock in the corporation, but are technically tenants of the co-op corporation’s building.

As a result, the managing agent for a co-op will typically receive any tax rebates directly on behalf of all shareholders, and the co-op boards have discretion on how best to distribute the proceeds back to the shareholders."

https://www.hauseit.com/coop-condo-tax-abatement-nyc/

This article seems to be saying that abatement distribution is at the discretion of the co-op board.

Please help me understand where you found the law or administrative code requiring distribution by a certain date, as you stated in your last message.

Thanks!
--- Steve

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Check the law and check with the city. On the Coop annual Tax Property Benefit letter, the city states it must be credited to eligible individuals immediately which has been interpreted to mean by the end of that fiscal year which is June 30th. I am correct about this. They do NOT have the discretion to grant it after that.

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Hi DM - I went right to the source and read the CO-OP TAX BENEFITS LETTER we received from the DOF. The salient part which I believe you are referring to, states:

"By law, managing agents/coop boards must credit the unit(s) with the benefit amount listed on the enclosed report once it is received. Credits are calculated using the tax rate for the applicable tax year. This report reflects sales or transfers that occurred on or before January 5th of this calendar year. We must receive this form by February 15, 2020."

There's a big difference between "...must credit the unit(s) once the report is received..." and "must immediately credit the unit(s) by a certain date..." There's no need for absolute urgency stated or implied anywhere in the letter.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time here. Your original statement about distributing the abatement credits by a certain date piqued my curiosity because I hadn't heard it before. I'd like to check the law, which is why I asked you for a link to the parts of the law that support your interpretations. If you could post the URL in this thread, we'll all benefit from your research.

--- Steve

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I did not post so you could punch holes in my email.
I am correct - the coop must credit the eligible units by the end of the city fiscal year in which the credit is applied to the coop's tax bill.
. End of story.
The QUESTION was is what do we do when they disregard the law and delay the credit by 6 months or more each year?
Attorney General's office?

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DM - I've been reading the back and forth responses between you and Steven424.

I can see that you're frustrated by your co-op's inaction. You asked what can you do about the situation. Steven suggested that you speak to your Board and ask them why there is a delay.

Your response to his suggestion is it doesn't matter what the Board's reasons are. Okay. You asked for suggestions, Steven gave you one, and you didn't like it.

He's trying to help. You've been on this site before. You know that Steven is very thorough and tries to understand the situation BEFORE offering any advice.

Don't get angry with him for asking questions and doing research so he can try to help you. Steven is not the type of person to try and punch holes in anyone's email. He genuinely tries to help people and has done so for years on this website, including me.

You might try contacting the DOF and ask them for their interpretation of the law. It couldn't hurt.

I do agree with him that you should contact your Board, but I'd also add that you should do it in writing, thus creating a paper trail. If the Board refuses to answer or gives you an answer that doesn't satisfactorily answer your question, you could then email the co-op's attorney to ask him/her for their opinion.

Good luck.

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DM this is a forum to help people who can not get answers or who has a question. I also have been reading this back and forth and I give Steven credit for trying to help you. It's seems you really don't want answers to your question. I do feel that you need this abatement money so badly and refuse to go to your managing agent or board for an answer. What ever your reason is. But don't take things out on Steven for going out of his way and researching an answer for you. Just say Thank you and move on Best of Luck

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DM/DP
This is a wonderful site where people freely help each other by sharing their experience and knowledge. I have benefited many times from the responses I have received on this forum and greatly appreciate any and all advice I have received. Apparently you have many issues with your Co-Op board and how your building is run. Your constantly request for " Informed and knowledgeable responses only" is quite annoying and somewhat insulting. Basically what you want is free legal advice and you tend to get snarky if you do not agree with or like the response you receive. Here is some knowledgeable, informed advice...Move.., BTW, there are no units in my Co-op. Steve424, remember Connie? Can you work you magic again? :-). Please no need for a response.

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Hi all, I do appreciate Steve's time but he did nit-pick at my use of the word "immediate." Which I did not feel was nice. The overall idea I here to help each other with information and my question was posted with that intent.

The question is not 'why' does a coop choose to pay late illegally. The question is what can people do - what recourses do we have when the law is broke in regards to this? Does anyone know?

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DM- Love the idea of you relocating to another building or better yet join the board.
Maybe you need to educate yourself being you can't take constructive advice. MOVE ON!

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DM/DP,
You might as well stop asking the question. I think your time for advice on this site has expired. I can't imagine anyone who would want to help you after this despicable and childish display. Contact the D.O.F. with hour questions unless they are no longer responding to you.

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Stop now, please. You are being negative and repetitive.
It is basically now just spam.


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DM/DP
You are delusional. I wish I had as much knowledge as People's Choice. Now please take an aspirin and go lie down. You are stating to frighten me.

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Construction company - Vicky Apr 17, 2021

We'd like to know your experience with Standard Construction Corp located in Brooklyn for their quality work and competitive price.

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Boiler Mechanic Needed - Badly! - REAPLLC Apr 12, 2021

It seems the real automotive, boiler and HVAC mechanics have gone my the wayside... I am looking for a recommendation for a good gas/oil boiler mechanic.

Someone who knows how to repaid a burner rather than just place a computer on it and tell you to replace parts as part of his troubleshooting process..

Added info: I currently use the service provided as part of contract with my fuel provider... new guy every time there's an issue and every one has a different opinion and no one takes the time to actually troubleshoot, diagnose and repair.. or at least see what the last 5 guys did to get a history!

If you have a good recommendation, please drop one here!

Thanks in advance
~AR

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Cell phone roof towers - pros/cons - Marty Apr 06, 2021

We are a 6 story building that's been approached by DISH Wireless to install 6 antennas on our roof, in addition to needing 100 sg ft for equipment. Does anyone have experience with DISH and/or these towers and know the answers to the following questions that can affect shareholders (s/h)?

Did you notify all s/h prior to the lease and/or take a survey to see if the s/h wanted it, or did you just leave it to the Board?
Are they noisy (humming noise perhaps) and possibly bother the people on the top floor? Any noise complaints from s/h?
Does their weight adversely affect the roof, possibly making it easier for the roof to leak?
Must the roof be checked out beforehand by a engineer to make sure it's sturdy enough to bear the extra weight?
Do they have any negative effect on parking lot remotes?
Have shareholders complained of feeling sick/nauseous, especially those people on the top floor?
If you do have the towers, have you had an overall good experience and do you feel its been worthwhile?

We want to make an informed decision, so any information/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for any help.

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We have had them for about 15 years with no issues. The company should pay for your engineer to review its plans.

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MissP,

Thank you very much for your input. Just curious - did you ask your s/h their opinion about the towers before you installed them? Thanks.

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No. But when we reported there were no questions of concerns from owners. Interestingly, a few people who have since bought without thinking about them have suddenly become very concerned! If they were that upset about it, you'd think they would ask before buying. Provide info -- the only place that there can be a danger is in front of the towers and they face out (and 180 feet up).

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Thanks again Miss P!

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We do not have towers on my building, but two points come to mind...

* Notify your co-op insurance company of the proposed installation. There may be something in your policy that affects or may be affected by the installation, and that may cause your premiums to go up. At the very minimum, your insurance company should review the contract before you sign to make sure you are adequately protected, and they review any insurance the tower company says they will carry.

* Have your co-op attorney review the contract for all the obvious stuff, and to make sure you are getting a fair financial deal.

You've probably already considered these, but I wanted to get them out there.

--- Steve

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Steven,

Now I'm on the receiving end of your sound advice. Thank you very much!

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Very glad to help, as I have learned from you as well.

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I have them in 1 building and negotiating in 2 others right now...
The service is different from their usual model and the new setups are strictly for a new 5G cell service initiative they are launching.

Its a Board decision in most Coops, but if its the first provider on the roof, you may want to put it out to the building out of courtesy.

Thigs to consider are
~Will they build their own deck? How and where is this mounted? Does it affect a roof warranty or maintenance? Make sure they take responsibility to move it ASAP should you need.
~ Where is the electric coming from? Who's paying, Are they installing a meter? Where? Where will the feeder line run?
~It's 5G, so there is signal bleed... Have them provide and RF safety report showing that the signal bleed into the building, residential and public are well within FCC safety recommendations. - This will limit Board liability later.
~Do not permit the 5 automatic renewable terms they ask for... it's a long commitment and you will not be able to renegotiate for many years. Sign off for 5+5 or 10 with option at your discretion.
~everything is negotiable so read the contract and have your building Atty review it and ensure it fits what you are willing to accept with regard to installation, time, ongoing access, and compensation.

~AR

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REAPLLC,

Thanks very much for this information!

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Tax Abatement - marym Apr 02, 2021

If a shareholder bought an apartment in December 2019, who gets the tax abatement for the 2019/2020 tax year?

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If you purchased on or before January 5, 2020
from an eligible shareholder/unit owner, you should receive the tax abatement for the July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 New York City (NYC) tax year. Therefore, if you purchased on or after January 5, 2020, then you will
first be eligible for abatement credits during the July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022 fiscal year.

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Regardless of any fine points of law or regulation, to me the ethical answer is, whoever pays the co-op assessment deserves the abatement. Most co-ops debit the assessment in the same month they credit the abatement, so it becomes a wash for whoever is the owner of record at the time of the transaction.

I'm still trying to figure out why the is even an issue.

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If you don't know the correct answer pls it is confusing when you post.

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Fair enough, DM. :-)

In almost every instance, the annual abatement is distributed to shareholders in the form of a credit against what is due for monthly maintenance. Unless there is wording to the contrary in the sales contract, whoever owns the stock certificate when the credit is issued receives the benefit of the abatement.

By itself, the benefit from the abatement follows stock ownership and does not stay vested with the seller after the stock transfer. If the issue was addressed in the contract of sale, both parties are bound by the terms of the contract.

Is there anything in your contract of sale or its riders that address the abatement? If not, the current owner of the co-op's stock is entitled to the reduction in maintenance provided by the abatement credit.

Here's what the NYC DOF has to say on the matter
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/landlords-coop-condo.page#require

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Thank you

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You're welcome, DM. Best of luck and I hope you get some answers.

--- Steve

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What kind of supers do you hire? - Deny Mar 13, 2021

Do they know everything about electricity, plumbing, heating systems, and construction. But lacks communication skills, leadership skills?

Or are you more open-minded to hiring someone who is passionate, who is continually developing himself, who has a great personality and communication skills? But knows only basic things about electricity, plumbing, heating systems, and construction.

If you had to pick one, which one would it be?

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All of the above

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While both hard and soft skills are important, I would put greater emphasis on soft skills like being passionate, continually developing himself, and has a great personality and communication skills, rather than knows everything about electricity, plumbing, heating systems, and construction.

Why? Because you can almost always hire qualified contractors to handle the tasks requiring hard skills. And if you find you're constantly in need of a plumber, electrician, carpenter, either your building is falling apart or you live in a very big building. In the extreme, you can hire a dedicated handyman.

Executive functioning and interpersonal skills are a 24x7x365 requirement. The super is your intermediary between your board and your shareholders. Without good communication flow and diplomatic demeanor, even the most talented technician will be ineffective.

My building is looking for a new super. This is what we've learned from all the candidates we've interviewed and given trial runs, and the feedback from our shareholders who've had interactions with the candidates.

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I am currently interviewing for a super for a particular site. I am seeking all the required skill sets, but above that, passion, conscientiousness and aptitude.
I can train you to repair a boiler, fix a simple electrical or plumbing repair, but I cannot train you to care, to be passionate about your job and building, and I cannot give you the aptitude to adapt.. so these are more important...
I use a few simple tricks to gauge this.. mostly for the in person interview portion... I leave a pencil or small piece of trash on the floor in the office and when greeting them, advise to go right on in and have a seat.. Ill be right with you.. then I step away for a moment and take notice.. did the see it? Did they pick it up? Did they leave it on the floor and step around it?
The conscientious ones will pick it up and either hold it, put it in the trash or on the table... then I continue the interview...

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