Sunday, July 21, 2013

Margarita Lopez and Emily Youssouf, Whose Jobs at NYCHA Were Eliminated, Keep Getting Their $187,000 Salaries

NYCHA board members keep drawing six-figure pay — for their eliminated jobs

This week, NYCHA board members Margarita Lopez and Emily Youssouf — who each made $187,000 last year — were still on the New York City payroll, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office confirmed.

Margarita Lopez
Two weeks ago, a state law went into effect terminating the jobs of the two full-time New York City Housing Authority board members who make six figures and are assigned their own drivers.
Somehow, they didn’t go away.
This week, NYCHA board members Margarita Lopez and Emily Youssouf — who each made $187,000 last year — were still on the city payroll, the mayor’s office confirmed.
It remains to be seen what this means for the board, now supposed to be made up of a salaried chairman and six volunteers — or whether the board even legally exists in its present form.
Assembly Housing Committee Chairman Keith Wright (D-Harlem) who sponsored the bill that restructured the board, was puzzled at Lopez and Youssouf’s continuing presence.

“If the legislation says it’s supposed to go into effect immediately, it should go into effect immediately,” he said. “I can only presume that maybe Mr. [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg is paying these board members out of some other pot of money.”
The mayor is to appoint the new seven-member board, but as of this week, Bloomberg had not done so, and the old board continues to run the authority.

It includes Lopez; Youssouf; Chairman John Rhea, who made $220,000 last year; and one volunteer tenant representative, Victor Gonzalez.

Judith Goldiner of the Legal Aid Society questioned whether the current board even has a quorum to vote on anything. A seven-member board would require at least four votes, and at NYCHA’s regular meeting yesterday, only three board members voted.

She noted that the board is required by law to oversee an annual meeting next week: “The board is required to oversee that and there is no board. How is that going that to work? How can they do anything? I don’t see how legally they do any of it.”

Emily Youssouf

Bloomberg says the full-timers can stay because state law allows board members whose terms have expired to stay on. But the two full-timers’ terms did not expire — their positions were abolished July 3 when the law went into effect.
On Wednesday neither the mayor nor NYCHA would reveal the current job titles or whether they’re still assigned full-time drivers.
Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg, said, “The current board members are continuing to serve until we appoint new members, which will happen soon. Our proposal to reform the NYCHA board is about instituting best practices and proper governance over the long-term.”
On Wednesday after voting on several items at the regular meeting, Lopez and Youssouf both declined to comment.
Lopez ran out of the meeting when a reporter asked her why she was continuing to collect a city salary when her job had been eliminated July 3.


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