COMMITTEE ON APPOINTMENTS
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21, 2007, AT 4:00 P.M.
PRESENT: Chair: Swanson. Members: Bronz, Jenkins, Pinto, Oros, Ryan. Staff: Vita.
GUESTS: RGB Applicants: Jonathan Klein; Keith Parker; Alba Guevara-Bolanos; Timothy Collins. Jeff Hanley, Associate Director-Building & Realty Institute of Westchester. CEO’s Office: William Randolph. Thomas Abinanti, Legislator, District # 12; Jose Alvarado, Legislator, District #17.
Mrs. Swanson called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m., noting this meeting will solely discuss the applicants for the two vacant positions for Public Members on the Westchester Rent Guidelines Board.
RENT GUIDELINES BOARD APPLICANTS:
Jonathan Samuel Klein, Esq. Is a resident of White Plains, New York and is presently an Associate Attorney with Marcus, Ollman & Kommer, LLP, a general practice firm litigating in State and Federal Courts. He manages cases from a variety of clients including privacy and health law litigation, probate, real estate, family and criminal law.
Mrs. Swanson asked why he wanted to serve on this Board, he replied that he wants to give back and do community service, he is familiar with the area, has no agenda and can offer his services. He is a homeowner, but not of rental property. He said he spent a short time developing senior housing in rural Pennsylvania and knows all sides of the situations—owner, tenant and builder. Prior to his present position, he practiced law for several years, especially with tenants and landlords in housing court; one of his biggest clients was Lefrak City.
Mrs. Bronz wanted to be sure all candidates know that this Board is tough to deal with at meetings, and they serve until they wish to resign or retire. Mr. Klein said he would have no problem.
Mr. Pinto asked if he would be able to make a fair decision at the meetings after hearing both sides make arguments, and there are some arguments that last all night. Again, Mr. Klein said he would have no problem, and will be fair in judgment.
Mrs. Swanson thanked him for his time and noted that there are other applicants and all will be notified once the committee makes their decision.
Keith B. Parker: Is a resident of New Rochelle, New York and he is employed as a Senior Bank Examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since July 2003. He conducts comprehensive bank examinations and risk assessments relating to consumer protection, fair lending, civil rights, community reinvestment and other compliance related statues.
When Mrs. Swanson asked if he owned his home and why he wanted to serve on this board. He is a home owner, and does not own rental property. He has a passion for issues concerning housing and at times, his work leads him to affordable housing and economic development. He has done research on the Rent Guidelines Board as far as how the meetings are set and he is anxious to learn more if he is chosen to serve.
Legislator Oros was impressed with his background and knowledge, and feels, if chosen; he would make a good candidate for the position.
Legislator Pinto was also impressed and asked if can be a fair and impartial member, Mr. Parks replied yes he has no conflicts of interest. Mr. Pinto explained that some of the meetings can be heated at times and tempers flair. Mr. Parker said he can handle it as he deals with the same at times in his line of business.
When asked if he had any questions, Mr. Parker asked about the framework of the RGB. The Legislators briefly explained the procedures of the meetings and the number of meetings per year, and the sometimes lengthy hours, but Mrs. Swanson pointed out, the RGB will not meet until they have a full compliment. After the Board of Legislators makes their recommendations, the Commissioner of Housing and Renewal makes the final recommendation.
Mrs. Swanson thanked Mr. Parker for his time and will contact him as soon as the committee their decision.
Alba S. Guevara-Bolanos: Is a resident of Yonkers, New York and a Community Development Program Assistant for the City of Yonkers. She was referred by Legislator Jose Alvarado, who asked her to consider the position as an additional community service project. As a Community Development Program Assistant, Ms. Bolanos assisted in the planning, developing, implementing and reporting of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant, HOME, and Emergency Shelter Grant programs, including the preparation of the RFP’s, Consolidated Plan, Release of funds and other numerous performance reports.
Mrs. Swanson asked if she was responsible for setting rents, Mrs. Bolanos replied no, she handled mostly Federal CDBG grants, and what organizations were funded, which are dictated by Westchester County.
Mrs. Swanson stated that the public member position is a neutral position on the Board, not favoring either tenants or landlords and asked if she was available to attend meetings and if chosen, would she be able to make a fair decision.
Ms. Bolanos said she grew up in a building that was rent-controlled and she is currently an owner of a co-op, so she has the knowledge of how to defend tenants rights, and she also understand landlord rights, and yes she would be able to make a fair decision.
Mrs. Bronz wanted to be assured that she would be able to attend the evening meetings, sit in the middle of a conflict, and asked, with her knowledge and understanding will she be able to make a fair decision, and not take sides. Again, Ms. Bolanos replied yes.
With not other questions, Mrs. Swanson thanked Ms. Bolanos for her time and again said there are others to be interviewed today and the Committee would notify her of their decision.
Timothy L. Collins: Is a resident of Irvington, New York and is a law partner with Collins, Dobkin & Miller, LLP, where he currently conducts a general law practice, covering areas such as Real Estate, Landlord & Tenant, Personal Injury and Administrative Law. The firm also handles all litigation matters including motions, depositions, summary proceedings, settlement negotiations, trials and appeals.
Mr. Collins was also a former Assistant Attorney General for NYS Department of Law, Real Estate Financing Bureau, where he organized and facilitated financial workouts for troubled cooperatives and condominiums, and handled complaints involving fraud in the offer and sale of real estate securities. He also was a former Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the NYS Rent Guidelines Board, where he managed a research and administrative support staff, accountable for agency budget, served as Agency Chief Contracting Officer, provided legal counsel to the Deputy Commissioner, drafted legislation and assisted in responding to lawsuits.
Mr. Collins stated that the RGB laws are good and it balances the tenants and landlords, and it is important that they see the fairness in treatment. The RGB needs to address extraordinary pressures and situations that need to be factored and stabilized. In the past he lobbied and/or testified at the RGB in New York City, but, if chosen by Westchester County, he would relinquish the opportunity to continue.
The Committee had no further questions for Mr. Collins. Mrs. Swanson stated that there are other candidates for the two vacant positions on the Rent Guidelines Board, and once this committee makes a decision, those two will be sent to the State Agency for recommendation. She thanked him for his time, knowledge and expertise and said she will notify him of the committee’s decision.
Howard William Rasher, Esq.: Mr. Rasher did not appear for his interview, phone calls were not received by the Committee Coordinator, nor did the Receptionist Desk receive any calls. He will be called to inquire why he did not show for his interview. When asked if a confirmation letter for today’s meeting was sent, Ms. Vita replied that a phone call was made and a letter was mailed and faxed to Mr. Rasher’s home.
After all candidates left the floor, Mrs. Swanson said that she will contact Michael Rosenblatt, Assistant Commissioner & Deputy Counsel of the NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal, and notify him that the committee has conducted the interviews, and she will hold a special committee meeting to make a determination.
She noted that the two positions were vacated by David Cheek and William Brown. She will take into consideration the suggestions of the committee members that ALL other members of the Rent Guidelines Board have the opportunity to remain on the Board or chose to resign.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 4 p.m., at which time all applicants for the Rent Guidelines Board will be discussed and a decision will be made for recommendation of the two Public Member positions by the April 9th Board meeting.
The minutes of February 15, 2007 were moved and approved by Legislator Oros, seconded by Legislator Swanson. All in favor, none opposed, motion carried 5-0. (Ryan out for vote).
The minutes of February 28, 2007 were moved and approved by Legislator Pinto, seconded by Legislator Jenkins. All in favor, none opposed, motion carried 5-0. (Ryan out for vote).
With no other business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 5:15 p.m.