Published: Spring 2014
AT APRIL ANNUAL MEETING
MARTHA SICKLES JOINS
CNYC EXECUTIVE BOARD
The Council of New York Cooperatives
& Condominiums held its annual
meeting on April 23, 2014. Keynote
speaker Howard Rothschild, president
of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor
Relations, Inc. (the RAB) provided detains
on the newly negotiated contract
with building service employees in Local
32BJ (see pages 1 and 4). CNYC Board
members provided updates on a variety
of issues important to cooperatives and
- A court decision that challenges the
use of 'grandfathering' as a means
of bringing about gradual change to
- Modifications to the property tax
abatement program and the ongoing
crusade for tax fairness by the Action
Committee for Reasonable Real Estate
Taxes (see page 4).
- A lawsuit by renters challenging the
constitutionality of the present property
tax system on the grounds that it
discriminates against renters.
- Guidance on detecting corruption,
(see Board Vigilance in next column).
- Resiliency and preparedness advice
for buildings and residents (see page
- The Business Judgment Rule.
- Strategies to keep housing affordable.
An election followed for six Executive
Board seats, which were filled by
Gregory Carlson, Mary Fischer, Marc
Luxemburg, Ted Procas, Stuart Saft and
Martha Sickles. Ms. Sickles is the one
new board member. She serves on the
board of a condominium in Manhattan
and is an urban planner and building energy
The CNYC Executive Board met
subsequently and elected the following
Chair - Stuart Saft
President - Marc Luxemburg
Vice President - Arthur Weinstein
Treasurer - Greg Carlson
Secretary - Mary Ann Rothman
Throughout the year, CNYC holds evening
meetings on a variety of topics. Many
are free to members and subscribers.
Pages 12 and 13 lists events that will take
place in the coming months. The CNYC
website will provide updates as additional
events are announced. Following are
highlights of some recent classes:
TO PREVENT FRAUD
New instances of fraud perpetrated
against cooperatives and condominiums
have recently surfaced. To help members
improve their ability to protect their buildings
against such problems and to recognize
them if they should occur, forensic accountant
Mindy Eisenberg Stark presented
Detecting & Preventing Fraud & Kickbacks.
She defined fraud as an intentional deception
resulting in injury to another. Previously,
the type of fraud most generally seen
was 'off-the-books' fraud, where bids were
rigged or kickbacks were given. These are
sometimes dismissed as 'victimless crimes'
but that is inaccurate, as either can easily
affect the cost and the quality of the work in
question. The recent incidents are 'on-thebooks'
fraud, where funds were transferred
from client accounts and records were falsified
to cover the fraud.
Procedures to establish to avoid such
problems include ethics manuals (for property
managers and for boards), and emphasis
on disclosing any relationships with
vendors, etc. Boards should make certain
their building has insurance coverage for
all eventualities, and should require that
management hold its funds in a separate
account. Only specific recurring payments
(mortgage, phone bill, utility bills, elevator
contract, etc.) should be made without
authorization of the Treasurer, who reviews
each bill and gets answers to any questions
before OK-ing them for payment. Checks
should be made out and mailed directly to
vendors. Banks should send monthly statements
to the treasurer as well as to management,
and the Treasurer should review
each statement when received. Sealed
bids should be required for all major contracts.
Reserves should be accessible only
to board members (with 2 signatures always
required). And no exceptions should
ever be made in the established policies.
These are just a few of the many
points raised and explained in this enlightening
class, which will be offered
at CNYC's 34th annual housing conference
on Sunday, November 16th.
FOR EVERY RESIDENT
Architect Eric Cohen used slides to illustrate
his theme that accessible design
can be attractive as well as utilitarian.
He showed ways that building entrances
and lobbies can be redesigned to meet
the needs of wheelchair bound residents
(lifts and ramps, of course, but never eyesores!),
or of those whose eyesight is imperfect
(lighting, color choices for carpeting
or trip on steps, banisters and railings)
and he provided thoughtful and creative
answers to participants' questions.
LIGHTS ! CAMERA!! ACTION!
New York is a very film-friendly town.
On any given day there are movies and
TV, commercials and magazine stills
being shot in many boroughs. There is
disruption, of course, but the agents and
crews all want to be able to come back to
a good location, so they do their very best
to be courteous at all times and to leave
the site restored to its original condition.
Isabelle Wedemeyer moderated a panel
of three experts who deal with different
aspects of scouting and using locations.
They spoke frankly of the problems that
can arise – and of how hard they work
to smooth these out. They answered
questions – generally about fees. Ms.
Wedemeyer has been invited to present
this class again at CNYC's 34th annual
housing Conference on Sunday, November
16th at Baruch College.
EXCHANGES OF IDEAS
The Workshop for Building Treasurers
never has a fixed agenda. It is an opportunity
for treasurers to ask the questions
that are troubling them, to learn how
other treasurers may have addressed a
particular problem, and to receive guidance
from Rick Montanye, experienced
co-op/condo accountant. CNYC offers
this class two or three times a year. It
is always well attended and it is different
every time. The next session will be on
October 9th (see page 12).