Saturday, March 31, 2012

Galvan Responds

At last Wednesday's Legal Committee meeting, Alderman David Marston (First Ward) reported that his research had revealed that the eleven supportive housing facilities operated by Eric Galloway's Lantern Organization in New York City averaged twenty-six building code violations per building per year. This statement was quoted in the Register-Star coverage of the meeting and by Gossips. Today, Tom Swope, executive director for the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, responds to this allegation on the foundation's blog.  


  1. Gossips received this comment from "Weltschmerz":

    "Shame on Galvan for going after Dave Marston. Insinuating that he is somehow prejudiced against people in need is precisely the kind of tactic used by SLC. Rather than unite, they choose to divide. Rather than stand on their record, they try to smear their opposition. Nice. So once again, they shield, blame, deflect or simply refuse to answer reasonable questions. Dave must have hit a little too close to home by unearthing something they would rather have remain buried."

  2. Tom responds as the perfect shill he has been hired by GalVan for.

  3. Attacking me personally rather than demonstrably citing evidence contrary to my asseration is an incredibly irresponsible position for a foundation seeking a 30 year 3+mil dollar relationship with a city I partially represent. I encourage anyone to go to the NYC Dept of Buildings online BIS (building information system) and explore the Lantern violations themselves. GalVan can marshall lazy deceptions about my 'prejudices' against the people supportive housing helps, or they can listen to those very people, and speak to the hundreds of complaints they have lodged against Lantern through the NYC DOB.

    The City has never put out an RFP for this project. Perhaps that would start the conversation without the shadow of stinking impropriety that Civic Hudson has cast on the discourse of this massive municipal project.

  4. Whether they're correct or not, it's one thing for GalVan to contest facts and quite another to enter into ugly, ad hominem accusations (accusations I know to be false, I might add!).

    GalVan's decision to call both my representative's characters into question, and by extension their sympathetic constituents, is utterly despicable.

    Suddenly this quasi-gift of a new police station is looking a lot less generous. These tactics are part and parcel of a coercion.

    With this giant miscalculation, GalVan owes the Common Council and the entire City an apology.

  5. Bulletin:

    From the telltale style we believe we've discovered the whereabouts of Quintin Cross:

    "One wonders what the real agenda or motivation of the the three alderman, of which Marston was one, who voted against the non binding resolution supporting the Lantern Groups proposal. Is it simply that it is Eric Galloway is proposing this?"

    We're amazed the Chinese didn't censor it.

  6. It is unfortunate that Tom Swope leveled accusations of prejudice against a Common Council member. Nonprofit housing developers for the formerly homeless rarely if ever level those charges when faced with community opposition. It is trash talk and serves to build walls not take them down. Swope needs to stand up and apologize. To suggest, also, that a Member is asking pointed questions because it is a Galloway project smacks to me of adolescent whining. Nonprofit housing developers for the formerly homeless learned long ago to seek community buy in for their projects. Swope is not doing that and the arrogance in statements he has made make me think that the principles of this organization have scant intent to build community in Hudson. Further, Swope did his employer no favors in his Galvan blog by stating that Lantern projects would not be financed if there were building violations. This is a deflection and it is baloney. Lantern has had building violations. They currently have building violations. I have been highly involved in building more SRO units/efficiency units for single homeless adults in NYC than any other nonprofit developer and more housing for formerly homeless families in NYC than any other nonprofit developer. Violations happen. They get fixed immediately if buildings are well managed. Swope could have taken the high ground and told the Members that the violations were administrative in nature and some were due to deferred maintenance. But he chose to charge someone with bias instead. The lack of transparency, deflection, mixed messages, and the sheer arrogance ranging from Galvan's lawyer to Tom Swope suggest to me that Hudson has problem on its hands -- starting with public relations. I suggest that the Van Amerigen Foundation make a grant to Galvan for two highly experienced community organizers ASAP. And, I suggest that Swope go to the regular meetings on the Nonprofit Supportive Housing Network of NYC and learn the basics.

  7. After the fateful meeting on Thursday night, Marston and Mendolia were seen at Red Dot commiserating. Swope then walked in, stopped at the curtained threshold, saw Marston and Mendolia, and turned on his heel and, in my view, angrily left. Why the anger if he got the vote he needed from the Common Council? Why the cowardice to enter Red Dot upon seeing an alderman and the Democratic Party head? Lots of people are against this stupid, ungapatch SRO/police station and court project. What is Swope getting out of this? How will Lantern or GalVan Init. or Galloway or van A, or even for that matter, Scalera profit from this project? What are the numbers? Why is it wrong for a duly elected alderman to raise legitimate questions about this project, or any project, which is up for consideration by the City? If Swope was totally in the right, and on moral high ground, why didn't he just march into Red Dot, have a drink and wave at Marston and Mendolia? It gives one pause.....

  8. Wow. That I didn't see the person I thought would be at the Dot and so didn't enter, is now evidence of guilt? I never saw David and Victor.
    Interesting the turn of character assassination I'm accused of by asking what motivates the particular alderman who voted against just supporting the idea of the project, is now used against me. I'm called arrogant, venal and corrupt. Has anyone ever considered that perhaps the reason the Foundation has floated this plan is that it is a way for Hudson to affordably solve a long standing problem?
    David made some pretty serious allegations, which don't stand up to scrutiny. The violations he finds on the website are misleading. Kate Stone understands how this happens better, but still stoops to attacking me and not providing a solution to the issue. These violations often predate Lanterns acquisition and get cured when they get the financing and do the construction. I'm not in NYC, I'm not at their offices, but ask these critics; would Lantern continue to be able to get the type of funding it does if it did a poor job of managing its properties? They don't just give money away, there are a lot of strings attached. I think Lantern can stand by its record, which is also public. I also ask, how is one to build a new Police Station and Courthouse, which are needed? Anyone have a better idea?

    1. Mr. Swope, "character assassination" is a bit of a stretch. Rather than build bridges to the community you retreat into the tradition of accusing people of bias when you feel pressured. Lantern knows that does not work in front of Community Boards in NYC and it does not work for Galvan in front of the Common Council in Hudson. You can't be thin skinned in this business. And to your point that Lantern would not get funding if it did a poor job of managing its properties -- from experience I know that there are nonprofit housing developers in NYC who do get funding even though they run poorly managed buildings. I am not suggesting that Lantern is a poor property manager but do take exception to your statement that they would not get funding if they were. Sadly, there are many landlords receiving federal/state/local money to provide housing who run slums. Others run excellent facilities. With all due respect, you need to know more about the issues. I did give you a solution, Mr. Swope: quit being so defensive and build bridges to the community. Galvan has a PR problem. You can either continue to reinforce it or learn the art of community organizing: reach out to Galvan supporters and critics and bring more citizens into the process, be transparent, be smart -- have a thorough understanding of the issues. And, understand that the majority want to help the poor but they don't understand all the issues of homelessness and what it means to house the formerly homeless in their neighborhoods. I was a program officer at one of the largest foundations in NYC, making grants to such organizations as the Van Amerigen Foundation. I respect their grantmaking. Again, representing a foundation calls for thorough knowledge of the issues and diplomacy.

  9. How about eliminating all not for profits in this burg so real taxes can be paid by real citizens who can then afford to build their own public buildings instead of graveling at the feet of snake oil salesmen.

  10. "[W]ould Lantern continue to be able to get the type of funding it does if it did a poor job of managing its properties? They don't just give money away ..."


    Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

  11. Why hasn't GalVan answered the questions I posed? Who will be profiting, and by how much? Specifically, what compensation and/or economic return/profit will Swope, Scalera, Galloway and Van A get out of this project if it is built? This is being done out of the goodness of your hearts?
    BTW, for the record, the Swope entrance into Red Dot was oddly abrupt and dramatic---it was not a casual, oh, I am looking for my friend, sort of entrance. Marston had his back to Swope, was standing in clear sight fifteen feet away, and given Marston's tall, rangy profile, he is hard to miss. Mendolia, being a much smaller man, blends in with the crowd much more.

  12. You have good questions Observer, but your subjective interpretations of the merely observed behaviors of others is ad hominem, arbitrary and frankly a bit scary!

    My point is this: it's a shame that the bitchier contents do detract from your welcomed questions.

  13. Tom, you didn't question Dave's motivation as you needn't: he stated it -- there is a long track record of NYC Housing violations at properties owned/controlled by Lantern. Dave merely raised it as an issue. But, rather than directly respond, you first obfuscate ("we get lots of public money so we must be good") and then second you attack by questioning Dave's motivation. Permit me to respond in my colleague's defense: his motivation is to ensure that the City of Hudson gets the best deal from its partner in the proposed plan. Period. Full stop.

    If there are questions about Lantern based on its history then you need to address those questions; if there are questions about Galloway's motivation, then you need to address those; if there are questions about the quality of Galloway's work to date here in Hudson, then you need to address those. The bottom line here is that no one is operating in a vacuum -- not Lantern, not Galloway, not Galvan, not the Council and not you. And, given Galloway's track record of purchasing significant properties and then either letting them continue to deteriorate, building shoddy in their place (your attention is drawn, for example, to the house just west of the intersection of 2nd and Union on the north side of the street) and/or decimating the trees on the properties, there's a lot to answer for.

    The truth, Tom, is that we all live with the ramifications of our actions. Galloway/Lantern/Galvan is weighed down by its own collective history both in NYC and here. Dave will live with the fallout from his questions (which, by the way, are only objectionable to you and your employer(s) and are universally understood to be nothing more than an alderman doing his/her job), and you will live with the ramifications of using attempted character assassination in a bid to silence a critical voice. My bet? Dave's reputation has climbed a notch or 2 in the eyes of his constituents and the rest of the City.

    For my part, after spending a long 10 days or so reading, analyzing and critiquing the Galvan/Lantern plan then negotiating in good faith with representatives of Galvan and Lantern to craft a mutually-acceptable resolution, the immediate response from Galvan and Lantern is what amounts to dirty pool. I'd say you have removed the chimera of good faith from your end. How do you expect the City to deal with this proposal now?

  14. Naturally GalVan is telling itself that it didn't have the support to begin with, but if the organization really is sacrificing good faith then it's time to stanch the blood-letting and apologize to the Common Council for doing its job.

  15. @unheimlich:
    I have observed you also in public, and I must say, the award for abrasiveness and disruption would have to go to you, not I. My questions, in my view, are not made less compelling because I happen to have a keen eye (at least I think I do....). I didn't think my observations on what I saw the other night were "bitchy" at all. And trust me, if you want "bitchy", I can compete with the best of them. After all, the premise of the Gossips blog is, soi-disant, to cast a "gimlet eye" on Hudson's happenings. If we don't have the freedom to do that here, due to tender egos that are easily "scared", then what use is this blog at the end of the day?
    Comments like yours on my observations are annoying, condescending and have a quelling effect; in the future, I think I may keep a lot of observations and thoughts to myself. Which may be sad, especially if GalVan and its slimy mouthpieces end up getting their way and hoodwinking the City's elected representatives.

  16. No one can hoodwink you without your permission.