The (full) truth at Amalgamated


To the editor:
(re: “The truth at the Amalgamated,” June 21)

The statement from Jack Spiegel, the president of the Amalgamated, that the state had abandoned affordable housing and the board of directors at Amalgamated has “shared this sentiment for some time now” has a double meaning.

One is that the state does not support operation or management of housing companies to get loans. The other — that the housing commissioner ruined the affordability by waiving the statutory requirements of competitive bidding to pay only “the minimum amount necessary” “for the actual final cost of the project” enacted to get the lowest offers to actually pay the minimum for expenses.

Unfortunately, the latter is true. The commissioner illegally allows mismanagement and Amalgamated board of directors practices it. So the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal and the board collude.

The only remaining remedy against the looming 45 percent-plus rental increase at Amalgamated to cover the deficit caused by mismanagement facilitated by commissioner regulations and the last resort is to appeal his order approving the increase and proving it illegal.

Spiegel’s statement that the board and management “have been transparent” is not true. At a February meeting about Amalgamated finances, he limited my speaking to just two minutes while allowing most others speaking without restriction. During the May 23 meeting with elected officials, when my turn to ask question came, he said “you not,” disallowing me asking. So I forcefully said that I have a question and Bronx borough president

Vanessa Gibson said “I want to hear it,” overruling Spiegel.

I asked our elected politicians: since the law requires thriftiness and thus protects affordability, Amalgamated lack of money obviously results from not following that law, supervising housing commissioner orders a 45 percent rental increase to cover that mismanagement.

The commissioner serves at the pleasure of Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, and I will sue commissioner order as illegal. Are they not afraid that my lawsuit will badly reflect on the Democrats suggesting that they kill housing affordability?

Eric Dinowitz responded that the law can be changed.

Amalgamated board of directors hired a lawyer through whom they refused my access their financial records mandated by the commissioner before asking questions at the public hearing on rental increase. I wanted to know how many Amalgamated contracts were subject to competitive bidding (as I expected none) and what are employee compensations not by name, but by position, as, in 2023,m eight boiler room workers where five were paid $1.2 million — over two times the prevailing wages that did not seem competitive.

The lawyer argued that the refusal is due to my request lack specificity and a time frame that were lies. Additionally, they refused on the last day of the access period. A refusal against a mandate is illegal.
So, how such a refusal constitutes transparency of Amalgamated board of directors Spiegel claimed?

To the contrary!

Under the law, the order increasing rentals is not final or conclusive without answering all questions within the commissioner’s jurisdiction. But the Amalgamated board of directors illegally refused my access to their financial records needed to pose my question to the commissioner at the hearing mandatory before making his order as to the overcompensation and overinflated final cost that is additionally not actual, but projected.

So, by refusing my access to the financial records disallowing my question, Amalgamated board of directors lack of transparency provided evidence for a court that the commissioner did not answer all due questions before making the order increasing rentals 45 percent, deeming the order neither final nor conclusive (effective), and thus to be invalidated by the court on an appeal.

Eugene Tenenbaum

The author has been an Amalgamated shareholder since 1992

Eugene Tenenbaum