HUD Letter questions investigation of Housing Authority Director Garcia
Jul 03, 2014 | 1223 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia speaks against the expansion of the Special Counsel investigating the HHA's financial practices at a special meeting on Wednesday.
Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia speaks against the expansion of the Special Counsel investigating the HHA's financial practices at a special meeting on Wednesday.
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HOBOKEN -- The investigation into Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) Executive Director Carmelo Garcia’s administrative and financial practices by the agency’s Board of Commissioners hit a snag this week. At a special meeting on Wednesday, the HHA Board of Commissioners tabled a resolution that would have expanded the scope of its contract with a lawyer investigating Garcia after receiving a letter from a local director at a federal agency questioning the investigation.

The contract currently authorizes special counsel, Joseph Manfrediof 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 Garcia’s state Assembly campaign fund.

The resolution, which - in the end - was tabled Wednesday, would have allowed the board’s lawyer to look into the Authority’s administrative processes in light of a recent mix-up in which HHA checks to employees, credit unions and vendors were not valid due to a signatory issue.

A letter received by the HHA board on Wednesday from Sonia Burgos, a director at the New Jersey public housing office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, focused on the manner in which the special counsel had been procured. Because it is a federally-funded agency, HHA must secure all legal representation through a competitive bidding process or else justify why such a process was not feasible.

Burgos wrote that the HHA had not provided the necessary documentation to justify retaining Manfredi’s services through a non-competitive process. As a result, she said the contract with Manfredi was "not justified."

The situation is ironic in that the HHA board is questioning many of Garcia's contracts for the same reason: They were apparently not bid out. Garcia has said that there were extenuating circumstances.

Burgos also detailed the rules governing how much can be allotted to special counsels by public housing agencies. “Based on the limited facts with which we have been provided,” wrote Burgos, “our office in unable to ascertain the validity of the allegations [against Garcia] or support the justifications of Hoboken HA Board to procure Special Counsel.”

In response to the questions raised by the letter, Wefer proposed a motion to table the resolution for the time being, which was passed. However, she stated that some of the documents Burgos said were not received had already been sent.

The majority of the Hoboken Housing Authority board, which is allied with the administration of Dawn Zimmer, has been at odds with Garcia over various decisions and procedures. Until recently, Zimmer's allies were in the minority on the board, but they recently took over the majority.

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anonymous
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July 04, 2014
Absolutely amazing what a mess the HUD is? Mr. Garcia's term cannot expire soon enough, we will wait patiently accordingly for a more competent person to run the HHA...