Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Burden of Mayoral Appointments

It is the mayor's responsibility to appoint members of the regulatory boards: the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Historic Preservation Commission. The mayor also appoints five of the seven members of the governing board of the Hudson Housing Authority, which oversees Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments (a.k.a. "the low rise"). Mayor William Hallenbeck doesn't seem to like this part of being mayor very much. He took almost a year to fill a vacancy on the Historic Preservation Commission, and, months after Phil Abitabile resigned, there is still a vacancy on the Zoning Board of Appeals. When the mayor does make appointments, his choices can be problematic. A letter from Victor Mendolia to HHA executive director Jeff First, presented to the Common Council on Tuesday night, alleges that the mayor's most recent appointments to the HHA board are in violation of Public Housing Law. 

The following statement is quoted from Public Housing Law [N.Y. PBG LAW Paragraph 30: NY Code--Section 30]: "Not more than one member of an authority [the HHA directors are called "members of the authority"] may be an official or an employee of the municipality at any one time." A few months ago, the mayor appointed Kathy Harter and Geeta Cheddie to the HHA board. Both women currently serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals and, in that capacity, are public officers, or "officials of the municipality." It would appear that, according to Public Housing Law, only one of them may serve on the board of the Hudson Housing Authority.

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