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OWNERS AS MANAGERSDevil or Saint?[[wysiwyg_imageupload:822:]] The 22-unit cooperative had its share of troubles. The managing agent was unresponsive, problems were mounting, and the board – in the person of one director in particular – seemed to be doing all the legwork on capital projects. Why not just pay that director to run the place?So the board did. It fired its outside manager and hired the owner (who then resigned his seat on the board). Things seemed to go swimmingly, until a few board members began complaining.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:800:]]Alina Nikolaou speaks softly, with a Greek accent: “It's distressing. It's depressing.” She is 25, with long, silky brown hair, an oval, olive face, and piercing green eyes, "An average couple with our income, if they don't have a fairly large income. I don't see how they can afford a house, there is no way."
It was certainly an odd situation, to say the least. The board at 127 West 96th Street had accomplished a great deal during its time in office. The budget at the 128-unit co-op was balanced, a new roof had been installed, maintenance was reasonable, and the building itself was in good physical shape.Yet the board was not very popular.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:676:]]Every crusade begins with a cause, and every crusader seeks out his or her own brand of justice. In the case of a man we’ll call Howard, it was a problem with his bathroom vent that occurred when he was only a shareholder. He contacted the board and said that the gas dryer from a laundry room below was venting directly into his bathroom. Within five minutes of someone using the downstairs dryer, the bathroom was a sauna.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:677:]]There are myths everywhere. In the world of co-ops and condos, there is the myth that a condo is a better deal than a co-op because there’s virtually no approval process. There’s another myth that co-op boards are filled with tin dictators, giving potential purchasers the third degree because they get their kicks out of making applicants sweat. And then there’s the myth about co-ops OK’ing applicants if the bank gave them a mortgage because, well, the bank gave them a mortgage.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:672:]]When is a stop-work order not a stop-work order? When it’s resolved, right? For most people, that would be the answer. But not for the Department of Buildings (DOB). Apparently, in the bizarre world of that bureaucracy, a phantom stop-work order can continue to exist…even after it has been resolved. And woe to the person who tries to resolve it.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:674:]][[wysiwyg_imageupload:675:]]We had a choice to make. The reporter at the other end of the line had some off-the-record information about a company that was apparently pulling off a scam. It wasn’t illegal, just unethical – and no one would speak on the record about the issue. Nonetheless, the reporter called the company and asked the press representative whether the company had a comment on the allegations. He did. He denied them.
FALLING UPWARDS[[wysiwyg_imageupload:651:]]Loser Takes AllLet’s call the super Pete, and the only other thing I’ll tell you about him is that he’s honest, hard-working, and knowledgeable. Oh yes, and I’ve known him for 25 years. When he complains about something, it isn’t idle talk.
A CONFLICT THAT WASN’T When in doubt, accuse.