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Friday, May 16, 2014

My Response to Tim Collins, TA Counsel

In a comment made on this blog on May 15th, Tim Collins, head counsel for the Tenants Association, wrote:

On November 8, 2013 following the TA meeting in which I explained what the TA faced with regard to the MCI fight, Stuy Town Reporter said...
 

3) Collins stated with assurance that the DHCR errors would delay the MCI charges, but that it's not a certainty that all or some of the MCI charges could be stopped. That's what the fight will be about.
November 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Now that you trashed my good name and distorted my legal advice by implying in your more recent posts that I promised a permanent recission of the MCI increases (contrary to your own characterization of my statements back in November and any reasonable interpretation of the audio tapes), and now that I fully explained my position and responded to questions re the MCI settlement at the May 10th meeting, perhaps you will issue a public apology.

It is the honorable thing to do.

Tim Collins


-----------------------------------

I wrote back that I would review everything and make a post on the matter, issuing a public apology if warranted.

This is that post.

Let me immediately get the following out of the way: On May 2, I made a post, after hearing a portion of the audio tape of the November Town Hall TA meeting that was provided by a blog reader and not, as promised, by the TA. This was my post:

The "money-shot" is around the 19:00 mark. Tim Collins, TA counsel:
"The good news is that I'm fairly confident--I can never make any guarantees--but I'm quite confident that every single one of those MCI orders is going to be rescinded."

My comment:

Wow. Wow. Just wow. 


All I did in the above was quote exactly what I heard on the audio tape. I did not, however, proceed to listen at that point to what came afterward because there was a break of vigorous, joyful applause and I was involved with imperative distracting work that forced me away from continuing on. And, frankly, blood was already squirting out of my eyes at the bravado of such a statement because, from the vantage point of time, no MCIs had been rescinded. Tenants and CWCapital received notice of the DHCR affirming these MCI's in October and they were attached to our rent bills in January. So the statement "I'm quite confident that every single one of those MCI orders is going to be rescinded" was bewildering and infuriating in the face of the reality that occurred afterward with our rent bills and the MCI settlement between the TA and CWCapital.

I was later informed in the comments section that after the applause Tim Collins said the following:

"But before you get your hopes up too much, it'll only be temporary, and we'll be back to square one."

At this point, I listened to this sentence, though its beginning was, and is still, garbled to me by the noise in the hall. I concentrated then on what was meant by "rescinded," for, whether temporary or permanent, the MCIs had not been rescinded at all. (Mr. Collins is free to correct me on this point.)

I regret one thing: I was going to attach to that May 2nd post Mr. Collins' statement ""But before you get your hopes up too much, it'll only be temporary, and we'll be back to square one," but other events and concerns distracted me in the debate that continued on in the comments section for that post, which did include Mr. Collins' further words and comments taking his side.  My mistake. So, if I led anyone to believe that Tim Collins affirmed at that November meeting that the MCIs were going be rescinded permanently and with certainty that was not my intention and for that Mr. Collins does have my apology.  I will review and revise any prior statements I may have made that even give a hint of such an implication.

Onward....

The "square one" that Tim Collins spoke of was slightly amplified later on by him at that November meeting. The "rescinding" of the MCI orders (by the DHCR) would have meant that the TA would challenge once again their justification, with both parties presenting their case before the DHCR. That was the important back to "square one." It appears that we never reached that stage because talks between the TA and CWCapital took a different turn, with the result being the MCI Settlement that gave long-term RS tenants a 5% reduction on these MCIs (to evaporate once the RS tenant moved out or died) and a removal of all retroactive charges attached to the MCIs. There was no legal fight before the DHCR on these MCIs, so that, for instance, the MCI for shoddy work on the sidewalks is now affirmed as a just MCI permanently attached to the rents of those buildings affected. An important point to consider: Had the TA won on this one MCI, the retroactive charges, if they stood, would have been less because there'd be one less MCI to charge for retroactively.

If one listens to the November Town Hall meeting and juxtaposes it to the reality that followed, they are two different impulses: In one, the fight is against the MCIs with the "retroactive charges" considered for what they are: temporary and not attached permanently to the rent rolls. In the other, the removal of the retroactive charges has become the primary victory with the MCIs a cross tenants must bear because of the pro-landlord laws of the State.

It is understood that talks between two combating entities are fluid, with a give and take that can erase or alter previous plans and goals. As I've stated several times already, I am thankful that the retroactive charges for the MCIs have been removed and for this the TA and its counsel (Mr. Collins, et al.) should be applauded. I am not thankful that affordable housing has once again lost the battle in ST/PCV because unjust MCIs have now been codified in rents that will be the basis for more higher rents on long-term RS apartments with every lease renewal.  On this important issue, CWCapital stuck to their plan and won, and long-term RS tenants lost.

If Mr. Collins wishes to respond to the above, I will gladly post his statement below.

UPDATE:  5/22/2014

Tim Collins has responded, and as promised, here is his statement:

-----------------------

STR:

First, I appreciate your integrity in printing my post.

Second, I accept your explanation and apology (although a limited apology). The fact that a formal "recission" of the MCI orders was not issued (even if temporary) came as a major surprise to me. DHCR's issuance of orders without consideration of the TA's last set of submissions was a flat violation of due process -- a violation of the type that has routinely resulted in remands from the courts. Despite the strength of our position in seeking recission, it was not worth wasting resources on a short term correction of the problem. We needed to focus on a long term resolution. Hence we did not launch a court challenge to the MCI increases in place during the negotiations. There are several other tactical reasons for this decision which I won't go into.

Third, I understand your disappointment and disagreement with the final deal. Nonetheless, I had the difficult task of weighing our chances of success in litigatino against securing the deal on the table. I am very familiar with DHCR practices. They often allow owner do-overs if the MCI's are found to be defective. Even if we won on the pavement MCI (due to defects) DHCR probably would have allowed corrections and reinstated the increases at a later date. Tenants continue to have the right to raise service complaints for items that are in disrepair.

The elimination of large retroactive charges was a significant achievement. The prior 23% reduction of the increases applied for by the owner had already addressed many of the objections we raised in our (ignored or misplaced) submissions. Hence, our target had been narrowed. By the way, TA submissions which predated my involvement were submitted and considered by the DHCR and may have played a significant role in achieving those initial reductions. Removing an extra 5% rendered the overall reduction quite good.

I must add that it is annoying and demoralizing to listen to a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacks second guess the hard work of the TA leadership. I can tell you that the TA's leadership is vigorous (some close to militant) and very well informed of the issues. They spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to best serve the tenants. Nothing is perfect. There is always room for disagreement. But personal attacks (from some of your readers) are cheap, ill informed and unwarranted.

Finally -- and I will be blunt -- anyone who says that support for the TA is inconsistent with the best interests of the tenants is an idiot. The TA remains -- far and away -- the best hope for the tenants. In addition, every one of the elected officials I have dealt with supports reform of the MCI laws. Some form of MCI increases will always be necessary to encourage building upgrades and sustainability. But the current laws are badly in need of reform -- particularly to the extent that such increases are permanent.

I thank you in advance for printing this. And I hope that you will play a constructive role in keeping tenants informed of important issues -- perhaps in occasional opposition to some TA policies, but hopefully in loyal opposition.

Tim Collins

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Screwed again, and again, and again........................

Anonymous said...

The MCI settlement was definitely not a perfect victory--but what negotiated settlement ever is? At least some people are getting several thousands of dollars in retroactive charges waived. The real battle is to get the law changed--it's outrageous that a cost that is depreciable goes on forever. And we have to look into filing Rent Reduction Applications for the so-called improvements that are defective. It takes a lot of energy to keep up this battle (not to mention legal fees). I hope we're all up for it because the battle won't necessarily be fought from the keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Got to know when to fold em.......

Anonymous said...

Exactly!! 2:35pm. Does anything really matter at this point anymore?

Anonymous said...

The "big boys" will always try to manipulate the law to their advantage. Until these ridiculous Rent Laws change, hold on for now. I think things are starting to change for us by DeBlasio's newly appointed RGB people. Let's just hope and pray. This can't go on forever.

Anonymous said...

Never, never, never give up.
Winston Churchill


When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe

If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.
Jesse Jackson


- “The genius thing that we did was, we didn’t give up.” - Jay-Z


“If you never give up, you’ll be successful.” - Dan O’Brien

I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'
Muhammad Ali

A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.
Pat Riley


To be champion requires more than simply being a strong player; one has to be a strong human being as well.
Anatoly Karpov

Yes it still matters. Because they are only about winning for the sake of money in their shady well lined pockets. We are about saving our homes, everything a home means, our families, our grandparents homes, our new family's homes, our every PCVST person's home.

Anonymous said...

3:01. Not sure how it's going to change things. He (Big D) is not going to change the laws - the MCI - and not going to give L L a 2% or less increase.

Anonymous said...

What is the Improvements that are defective -- the 2;17 pm post? huh?

Anonymous said...

Winning....Charlie Sheen

Anonymous said...

4:21 Seriously?!

Anonymous said...

Well said, 3:12 PM.

Anonymous said...

I know STR has made some valid points regarding the previous MCI meeting and Tim Collins has responded as well but you all do realize that right now, CWC is laughing at us. Full disclosure trumps mindless following but divided we fall, united we stand, is still a relevant statement.

Anonymous said...

"Full disclosure trumps mindless following but divided we fall, united we stand, is still a relevant statement."

But we are divided. The TA has divided us! They went behind tenants backs and made a deal that the vast majority of tenants do not approve of. They had no right to do that, legally or otherwise. Then they let the landlord run roughshod over the property, bent over for a crappy MCI deal all to gain favor for their unsupported plan and you and they (if you aren't one of them) expect that people will unite? That's ridiculous. Once the TA rids itself of the TOXIC Garodnick, comes to it's senses, starts acting like a tenants association instead of a wannabe buyers club, and APOLOGIZES to the tenants they sold out perhaps we can unite. Anything short of that and the TA should stand down. Period!!!

Anonymous said...

They went behind tenants backs and made a deal that the vast majority of tenants do not approve of.

Oh really, When did you take the poll?

And good for STR for mensching up and apologizing to Collins.

Anonymous said...

At this point, anyone who is focusing their ire on the TA or Garodnick, or any other divisive issue is quite simply on the side of CW and the hedge funds. The only strength and hope the residents have is through unity.

Anonymous said...

Poll:

TA Members 10%

Non Members 90%

Poll over.

Stuy Town Reporter said...

Nearly 5K members. Represents tenants before the DHCR. Frequently mentioned in news reports on ST/PCV. Councilman Dan Garodnick, front and center member.

Anonymous said...

Fail, 12:01 AM. The number of TA/members/nonmembers is not indicative of who does or doesn't support a particular TA "deal." I am not currently a member, I'm late on paying my dues, but I support the MCI deal for example. It's always been a struggle for the TA to attract a wide membership (except maybe among seniors) for as long as I've been living here (25+ years) and I'd argue that it has very little to do with the quality of leadership or deals. IMO non-seniors are busy with other things and can't be bothered because they just assume it'll get done.

Anonymous said...

actually less than 3300 members.

Anonymous said...

Actually, less than 1500 voting eligible members. Although they count you as a member if you signed the pledge, but if you haven't paid dues you can't vote.

As for membership not reflecting policy, then how come so many people left after TA tried to buy first time? Membership was much higher prior to that!

Anonymous said...

Nearly 5K members. Represents tenants before the DHCR. Frequently mentioned in news reports on ST/PCV. Councilman Dan Garodnick, front and center member.

LOL....Good one...LOL

TA Counsel said...

STR:

First, I appreciate your integrity in printing my post.

Second, I accept your explanation and apology (although a limited apology). The fact that a formal "recission" of the MCI orders was not issued (even if temporary) came as a major surprise to me. DHCR's issuance of orders without consideration of the TA's last set of submissions was a flat violation of due process -- a violation of the type that has routinely resulted in remands from the courts. Despite the strength of our position in seeking recission, it was not worth wasting resources on a short term correction of the problem. We needed to focus on a long term resolution. Hence we did not launch a court challenge to the MCI increases in place during the negotiations. There are several other tactical reasons for this decision which I won't go into.

Third, I understand your disappointment and disagreement with the final deal. Nonetheless, I had the difficult task of weighing our chances of success in litigatino against securing the deal on the table. I am very familiar with DHCR practices. They often allow owner do-overs if the MCI's are found to be defective. Even if we won on the pavement MCI (due to defects) DHCR probably would have allowed corrections and reinstated the increases at a later date. Tenants continue to have the right to raise service complaints for items that are in disrepair.

The elimination of large retroactive charges was a significant achievement. The prior 23% reduction of the increases applied for by the owner had already addressed many of the objections we raised in our (ignored or misplaced) submissions. Hence, our target had been narrowed. By the way, TA submissions which predated my involvement were submitted and considered by the DHCR and may have played a significant role in achieving those initial reductions. Removing an extra 5% rendered the overall reduction quite good.

I must add that it is annoying and demoralizing to listen to a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacks second guess the hard work of the TA leadership. I can tell you that the TA's leadership is vigorous (some close to militant) and very well informed of the issues. They spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to best serve the tenants. Nothing is perfect. There is always room for disagreement. But personal attacks (from some of your readers) are cheap, ill informed and unwarranted.

Finally -- and I will be blunt -- anyone who says that support for the TA is inconsistent with the best interests of the tenants is an idiot. The TA remains -- far and away -- the best hope for the tenants. In addition, every one of the elected officials I have dealt with supports reform of the MCI laws. Some form of MCI increases will always be necessary to encourage building upgrades and sustainability. But the current laws are badly in need of reform -- particularly to the extent that such increases are permanent.

I thank you in advance for printing this. And I hope that you will play a constructive role in keeping tenants informed of important issues -- perhaps in occasional opposition to some TA policies, but hopefully in loyal opposition.

Tim Collins

Stuy Town Reporter said...

Thanks for you response, which I've posted in the appropriate area on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Time will tell as they say.

It is now very clear the TA is not as depicted by Tim Collins.

It is this community and a few individuals in particular who are owed an apology and more. For calling us idiots and again, for more.

https://www.nycourts.gov/litigants/clientsrights.shtml