Consistent with federal law, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants the Hoboken Housing Authority to reimburse them the $95 they overpaid former executive director Carmelo Garcia in 2014.
“Is this specifically an audit of our executive compensation,” HHA Commissioner David Denning asked Executive Director Marc Recko – who was hired in September.
“They’re [HUD] doing this to all housing authorities,” Recko responded.
“It seems like … they haven’t come after us in previous years, it seems like they’re some way targeting us,” Denning added, though Board Counsel Harold Fitzpatrick called the initiative “a national effort.”
The 2013 Appropriations Act for HUD capped the salaries, that come via Federal Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher funds, of all public housing authority employees at $155,000.
Hoboken Housing Authority Chairwoman Dana Wefer, Garcia’s main adversary in 2014, asked if the boards understanding was the same as HUDs in this matter – that Garcia was paid $155,095 before being terminated in August 2014.
Garcia, the HHA, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, her husband Stan Grossbard, and others, remains in litigation over his impromptu dismissal from the authority.
In December, a judge ruled against releasing thousands of emails between Garcia and his attorney Louis Zayas transmitted via the HHA server.
Fitzpatrick said he didn’t believe that figure was correct, but declined to go into further details at Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting at the Fox Hill Gardens.
Commissioner David Mello, also a Councilman-at-Large in the city, mentioned that he brought up the fact Garcia was overpaid in the past.
“In case anyone wanted to send me a letter saying that I, improperly in a debated, brought up the compensation somebody was receiving and maybe referred to the level of compensation of the governor of the State of New Jersey, the head of HUD on the federal level and the vice president of the United States … I think this correspondence from HUD makes it apparent I wasn’t overzealous in pointing out those discrepancies.”
Mello, another longtime nemesis of Garcia, gave a big smile to the camera after making his statement.
When speaking with Hudson County View after the meeting, Recko said this was HUD simply doing things by the book and was happy the HHA is not one of the authorities that owes HUD tens of thousands of dollars.
“It’s a shame that instead of focusing on the conditions of the buildings and the suffering of the residents, they continue to rehash the circumstances surrounding a wrongful termination, despite now having six department directors,” Garcia said over the phone early this evening.
The agenda item approving the reimbursement passed by a vote 5-0-1, with Commissioner Rob Davis voting no.