If approved, the expanded contract will allow the board’s lawyer to look into the Authority’s administrative processes in light of a recent mix-up that left employees unable to deposit their paychecks.
The contract currently authorizes a special counsel, Joseph Manfredi of Joseph Manfredi & Associates, to look into $3.5 million in no-bid contracts awarded by the Authority since 2010. Some of the companies awarded contracts later made contributions to Carmelo Garcia, who authorized the contracts in his capacity as HHA Executive Director. (Garcia is also an Assemblyman representing the 33rd District.)
Banks would not accept the paychecks issued to HHA employees on June 20 because they had an invalid signatory. They had been signed by Dana Wefer, the new chairwoman of the HHA Board, but the prior board chair was still listed as the signatory, and a resolution required to change it had not been passed.
Wefer said a resolution allowing her to become the new signatory was passed at a special meeting last Thursday. She met with the HHA’s account executive at PNC Bank in Hoboken on Friday, and said she expects the issue will be resolved going forward.
Wefer said she wants the board’s special counsel to investigate the “root cause” of the paycheck issue. She charged that Garcia’s administration has had difficulty completing administrative tasks and providing timely information to the board. For example, she said it took a week for Garcia to provide her with contact information for the HHA’s account executive at PNC Bank.
Wefer took over as chair of the HHA Board of Commissioners during a reorganization meeting in May. She is an ally of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, whose allies assumed a 3-4 board majority in May. They are at odds with Garcia, who is suing Zimmer for alleged discrimination against him.
The HHA manages the approximately 3,100 units of low-income federally subsidized housing on the city's west side. Garcia is a paid director whose full-time job is to manage the agency, but he is overseen by HUD and by a local seven-member unpaid board of commissioners, which Wefer heads.
The special meeting of the Housing Authority board will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2 in the Council Chambers at City Hall.