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HHA Chairman: City attorney rules HHA board attorney appointment invalid

HHA Chairman Jake Stuiver announces:

HOBOKEN HOUSING
AUTHORITY COUNSEL APPOINTMENT DEEMED INVALID
The Hoboken
Housing Authority Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 7 vote to 
reappoint Charles Daglian as general counsel has
been invalidated based on 
legal advice provided by the City’s Corporation
Counsel.
HHA Chairman
Jake Stuiver referred the matter to City of Hoboken Corporation
Counsel Mellissa Longo on Feb. 11, due to his concerns
that (1) Mr. Daglian’s
representation of
the Board in connection with his own contract may have 
been improper, and (2) that Mr. Daglian
permitted a vote to reconsider the 
initial rejection of Mr. Daglian to be taken in
violation of proper
procedures. Under New
Jersey Local Housing and Redevelopment Law (NJSA
40A:12A-22)
,
housing authority boards are permitted to seek legal
guidance
from the City’s
Corporation Counsel: “For such legal services as may be
required, a redevelopment agency or housing authority
may call upon the
chief law officers of
the municipality or county.”  Since the issues here
involved the holdover board attorney’s own potential
conflict, it was
necessary to obtain the
legal opinion from Corporation Counsel as a 
nonconflicted attorney in accordance with state
law.
Ms. Longo
responded to the Chairman’s inquiry on Feb. 13, stating that due
to the conflict created by Mr. Daglian advising the
Board in connection with
his own contract
as well as the failure to follow proper procedures, the
reappointment of Daglian was invalid. Ms. Longo
advised that Mr.
Daglian should not
advise the Board in connection with the legal contract
and should recuse himself as counsel to the Board
during any future
consideration of the
contract.
“Ms. Longo’s
legal opinion confirms our suspicions that many aspects of the 
Feb. 7 Special Meeting did not pass the smell
test, and that those
Commissioners who
have been questioning the soundness, validity and
objectivity of Mr. Daglian’s advice have been on the
right track,”
said Chairman Stuiver. “I
thank Ms.  Longo for taking the time to address
this matter amid her numerous other obligations, and
look forward to finding
an unconflicted
special counsel to advise the Board in what will hopefully
be a resolution to the longstanding debate over who
can serve the Board as a
trustworthy
general counsel going forward.”
HHA Commissioner
Greg Lincoln, who voted for Mr. Daglian at the Feb. 7 
Special Meeting, said he regrets
that vote in light of the conflicts and impropriety of Mr. Daglian’s conduct,
and that he would not vote for him again.
”I voted to
appoint Mr. Daglian despite serious reservations.,” said Commissioner Lincoln. “I
was concerned about the fact that there was a clear conflict of interest, but I
assumed that as an officer of the court, he would have recused himself if it
was appropriate. The questionable legal advice he provided the board left
me feeling I had little flexibility or choice. In essence, he advised the board
that we were legally required by the current procurement policy to
reappoint him as legal counsel, which is patently false. “
Commissioner
Lincoln added:
“Additionally,
Director Garcia wrongfully asserted that failing to reappoint Mr. Daglian might
even be a criminal act.
I now understand that not to be the case, and am
very disappointed in the lack of professionalism
and integrity that was displayed at the special meeting. I plan to
support an effort to amend the HHA procurement policy as soon as possible.”

Charles Daglian (l) appears to be telling HHA Chair Jake Stuiver there’s only one choice to make at the previous HHA special meeting where appointing a HHA counsel was the sole item on the agenda.  The City attorney Melissa Longo issued a legal opinion that advocating for your own contract is a conflict and ruled the appointment invalid.

Talking Ed Note: Well as MSV said, there was something rotten in Denmark.  In this case, the HHA too.

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