Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hoboken City Council Representation on Housing Authority Board -Rami Pinchevsky

Local resident Rami Pinchevsky who is politically active and lives in the 4th Ward, District 2 has this letter to the editor that was also published in the Hoboken Reporter this week.....

Note: This letter references the last Council meeting, when in fact, at this point, it was actually the meeting before.

Hoboken City Council Representation on Housing Authority Board

The Hoboken City Council currently designates one council member to serve as a representative on the Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) Board. At the last City Council meeting I suggested that the Council consider a slight alteration to their current practice of appointing a fellow Council member to the HHA Board for a full 5-year term. While I believe having Council representation on the HHA Board is a good thing, I don’t agree with the term lasting 5 years. Currently, the Council also has representation on the Planning Board, but for only a 1 year term. Every year at their reorganizational meeting, the Council decides to either reappoint the same person, or appoint someone new to the Planning Board. I think the Council should follow a similar practice when they appoint a Council member to the HHA Board.

This change would be beneficial for several reasons. First, it would likely allow more Council members to serve on the Board, which would allow for a broader range of expertise. Typically, this position has been held by Ward Council members, and a move like this could easily result in At-Large Council members also being considered.

Furthermore, according to federal law, it is illegal to act as a Commissioner and politick for a candidate in a partisan election. Therefore, if our municipal elections were partisan, it would be against federal law for a Councilperson to sit on the HHA board while running for reelection, provided their ward contained HHA property. We avoid this federal law because our elections are non-partisan. While I agree that local elections should be non-partisan, I think we’re certainly, at the very least, breaking the spirit of the law by allowing any politicking by a Council member who has a seat on the HHA Board, and should discourage, if not prohibit, such activity.

Once again, I respectfully ask the Council to consider these changes. Let’s take this to subcommittee, get an opinion by the Corporation Counsel, and discuss the idea. If it’s not legally possible to officially make this change, I think the Council appointee, in the spirit of good and open government, should then go ahead and resign once per year before the reorganization meeting. There is a reason these types of laws exists – to avoid undue influence of housing authority commissioners over tenants. We should strive to hold ourselves to a higher moral standard, and follow the spirit of these laws.


-Rami Pinchevsky
Editor's Note: Please keep the submissions coming. I am slowly winding things back up now that I know the source of my medical issues that had me exhausted and physically unable to maintain this blog. Gradually my strength is rebuilding and I look forward to providing more insight where I can to provoke the discussions on Hoboken and my occasional dalliances with national issues. ◦