The pain of appealing at East Midtown Plaza
The front-page headline article on January 26, “Court says pro-privatization EMP residents can appeal,” makes it sound like EMP residents are jumping for joy about continuing in courts to pursue privatization, the conversion that was rejected three years ago by vote of the shareholders.
Since then (January, 2009), without authorization, EMP’s board of directors has dipped freely into the co-op’s operating funds to pay attorneys to petition to override the shareholders’ vote – and lose, then appeal and lose again, and now to appeal again.
They have continued to press on in the courts despite good conscience, business sense and shareholders’ objections and petitions that should have caused them to quit wasting our funds on the futile pursuit of personal profit. Yet they persist.
Below the happy-sounding headline, there is plenty of misinformation. For example, no matter what Alan Kahn says, pro-Mitchell-Lama cooperators have not cost the co-op a penny to deal with the building code violations arising from the installation of balcony doors that are inaccessible to the disabled and hazardous for the able. Protests began when only three doors had been installed, but the board ignored the protests until 300 more were put in place and the Dept. of Buildings issued a Stop Work Order. The board also ignored orders from the Commissioner of Buildings to fix the doors. Six Environmental Control Board hearings were scheduled in 2011 regarding these doors, but the board did not appear or send a representative to any one of the hearings; the architects sent a representative to one hearing.
The co-op was penalized $800 per door for allowing installation of doors that, as the architects admitted to the ECB, violate the NYC Building Code. The irony of the situation is that the injuries caused by the doors have been suffered by able-bodied residents. Limited-mobility folks are in less danger because they can’t get through the door; they have simply been cut off from their balconies, for which they pay 10 percent of their monthly charges.
Yes, the two incumbent board members were returned to office in December’s board election, and the board’s choice of a third candidate was elected. EMP has had an entrenched board since 2005; they run the elections, have disbanded almost all of the shareholder committees, discourage resident participation in the co-op’s affairs, and suppress challenges by threatening to adjourn a meeting if anyone speaks from the floor. They have also promised to make everyone rich by going private. The playing field in our co-op community is as uneven as the unsightly plaza this board has allowed to crack and subside. The will of the shareholders is not easy to discern, but it is not joy that we will spend many more months and another extravagant amount of our “maintenance” charges to pay attorneys to oppose our vote.
Jeanne S. Poindexter, EMP Continue reading