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The Year in RE Review, 2015
The year is ending, and with that, we present a review of what was good, bad, and inane in the New York Real Estate world.
The “I’m Not Going to Mince Words” Award: to board president Joe Camastra, who commented on a previous board’s inability to build a park in the public space at his co-op: “They listened to so many people that did not know what they were talking about. They just wanted to put a flower pot here, put a flower pot there, put some flowers in it, and think they were doing good. They had no idea what the hell they were doing.”
Most unusual communication a lawyer had to undertake: by attorney James W. Glatthaar, who was forced to write a letter to a shareholder about the proper disposal of a discarded box that had contained an inflatable “love doll” and was seen by many unwary residents in a public space before it was trashed
Least pressing new legislation passed this year: Local Law 39 of 2015, which mandates that electrical sockets in common areas have covers added to them to avoid shocking the unwary who may stick (apparently very thin) fingers into them.
Best place to hold an annual meeting: to Le Havre, a 1,024-unit cooperative in Queens that stages a summer session by the co-op’s swimming pool, which gives firebrands and hotheads an opportunity to cool off – quite literally – if the discussion gets heated.
Most appropriate response to the sound of a gas leak: by the contractor who punctured a gas line and ran screaming out of the apartment.
The Humphrey Bogart Don’t Mess with Me Award: to two-time winner Joe Camastra, the board president who told disgruntled ex-board members that he had forced off the board: “I’m not running away. You can sue me. But be careful about what you say because I’ll come after you, and I’ll take everything you’ve got.”
The “Who Says Soap Operas Are Dead?” Award: to the shareholders involved in these attempts to lie, cheat, and steal to get or profit from a co-op apartment, including Amy, who produced a power of attorney allowing her to transfer an apartment from boyfriend Bob to Amy, without disclosing that Bob was dead and had living relatives/beneficiaries; to Cindy, the executor of her mother’s estate, who sought to transfer the lease and shares to a trust to permit Cindy to live in the apartment without disclosing that her sister, Daisy, had equal rights to inherit the apartment but would receive no benefit from the apartment while Cindy lived there; and to Ed, the beneficiary of decedent Fred, who sought to sell an apartment without revealing that the federal government had filed tax liens against Fred in Florida where Fred had lived in the last years of his life.
Simplest Way to Resolve Tension Prize: to high-powered board president Francisco di Blasi, who has spent the last five years caring for his co-op’s impressive roof garden, and admits: “I work one hour here, and the problems of the day seem unimportant.”
“But why would you want to?” Award: to the shareholder who was excited about the installation of a new remote-controlled door intercom that could be opened by someone on a cell phone: “This system can go to any telephone number so the door can even be answered from overseas. I love that I can let UPS in the building when I'm not there.”
Best Training for Being a Board President Prize: to Amy Markovitz, who before serving on her board worked in a halfway house for the mentally ill. “I had one guy climb out on the roof at two o’clock in the morning. I thought, ‘Holy cow, what do I do?’ I talked him off the roof.”
Best Media Conglomerate about running a co-op or condo in New York City: Habitat.