First, read this. It’s a letter from cooperator Tommy Loeb to board president Gary Altman asking (not for the first time) for a full accounting of the costs of our litigation against dog owners and the U.S. Attorney’s suit against East River which was settled this spring.Legal fees had increased 462% in the three years before our last published financial statement in June 2014. This excessive cost of litigation was cited by participants in our open meeting and dog poll this summer as a big reason for supporting a more permissive pet policy.
Now read the response Tommy got yesterday — not from Gary Altman, but from Bradley Silverbush, the lawyer who litigated the cases against shareholders and defended the coop against the U.S. Attorney. It’s typical (unfortunately) of the board’s approach to sharing information with shareholders.
Dear Mr Loeb:
I am in receipt of the copy of the letter you sent to me, referencing Gary Altman. As you know, I am one of the attorneys for your coop, and was the lead attorney on the USA v. East River case, as well as the underlying related litigation before the administrative agencies, the housing court, and State court. There is no one in a better position to address any related issue, or any aspect of that litigation, than I. I read your letter in disbelief, because I am astounded that anyone (let alone anyone who knows the truth) would engage in the sort of false allegation and innuendo that your letter wreaks of.
At the outset, when one goes off by sending insulting emails to a board member (especially one who, in my professional opinion, is beyond reproach), and copies it to others, I have to ask myself, “what kind of person would do such a thing?” Here, I believe that the answer is rather apparent; a person who has his own agenda, and is attempting to needlessly and improperly smear the reputation of a person who dedicates a great deal of time to the betterment of the coop. That time consuming and thankless work given by dedicated people like Mr. Altman, where there is nothing in that selfless dedication, except to have rude and crude people like you criticize, second guess, insult, and incite others to engage in similarly reprehensible and unfair innuendo. Mr. Altman does what he does out of a selfless desire for the betterment of the entire cooperative corporation. For people like yourself, on the other hand, you seek to besmirch his reputation for reasons I cannot fathom, except for what can only be some personal perverse please. Your conduct in doing so offends my sensibilities, and again, has me asking “what kind of man are you?”
Mr. Altman is one of 11 members of the elected board, and he has been honored to serve as president for the past year after the resignation of the former president for family reasons. He stepped up, and does what needs to be done to effectively undertake and accomplish the tasks with which he has been charged. Mr. Altman has previously proven himself to be adept at undertaking his duties and performing the difficult tasks with which he has been entrusted; the difficult and time consuming work that is associated with running a coop as complex as East River. In fact, in the over 30 years I have been involved with legal representation of East River, all of the people I have come to know and respect have consistently, and without exception, hailed him as the paradigm of the selfless, bright, compassionate, considerate, smart, and thoughtful individual who exemplifies dedication to the principles that work for the betterment of the coop. What is that you have done, Mr. Loeb, other than second-guess and insult Mr. Altman, for some personal reason? Have you done anything to improve the coop?
Surely you must be aware that the entire board, and not Mr. Altman (nor any one member), publishes the board newsletter. As such, the referenced March 2014 letter, which hinted that after approximately 3-4 years of zero increases that a carrying charge increase may be necessary, was reflective of the board’s position (and not Mr. Altman’s opinion alone). As you must also be aware, to date (more than a year and a half later), no increase has yet been given (as the board has taken other actions to bring in additional revenue up to this point). All of the foregoing has been communicated to the cooperators.
Based upon the information I have, it seems that you have some very close friends on the board, board members who are not shy about releasing board information. Such acts may be, in my opinion, a breach of the board members’ fiduciary obligations. So, why do you play games, and act coy? Why are you attempting to denigrate a person whose exercise of judgment has always been with the coop’s best interest as his paramount concern? Quite frankly, I suspect (indeed….I am fairly confident) that any information you seek has already been obtained by you long ago. As such, it is gamesmanship on your part, and inappropriate, for you to be referring to all board communications as if they came from Mr. Altman (I note your constant use of the word “You” in your correspondence).
When and if I prepare any information regarding the settlement of the dog cases (which was a priority of Mr. Altman’s when he assumed the presidency, along with most of the board members, in their attempt to prevent cooperators from having to face additional mounting legal fees), I am certain that it will be sent to all cooperators at the same time. I seriously doubt that Mr. Altman ever told you that you would receive an exclusive copy of any communication from the coop’s attorneys. We don’t do that, Mr. Loeb; only people like your friends do that. So your statement suggests to me what can only be a fabrication, because you are not special, and you are not entitled to anything other than what is properly distributed to all shareholders. Again, I ask myself, what are you doing with this nonsense of yours, and why would anyone do what you are doing here?
Surely you know that Mr. Altman has spent virtually his entire life in public service, selflessly trying to help others to the best of his ability; so, your implied or actual threats are not only rude and inappropriate, but are meaningless. To a man like Mr. Altman, who has committed no improprieties, threats are of no concern. Why and how people like yourself can get joy from attacking others (and I am not referring solely to Mr. Altman here) in unsigned distributions replete with lies and half-truths, is something I will never be able to fully understand. I have the benefit of knowing what you do not, that while you are an angry and calculating individual with your own personal agenda, Mr. Altman, and others like him, are able to sleep every night cloaked in the love of their family and the knowledge that what they have done is for the betterment of the coop, and the hope that what they have accomplished has helped at least one more person in need that day.
Perhaps your misguided group should for once try to learn how to truly help others, rather than find negativity in everything done in beautiful East River. Maybe if they were to do so, then perhaps others would find more satisfaction in their lives. I am unaware of any other development in our city, and probably in our State, where one can proudly live in such beautiful surroundings for the very low monthly carrying charges all of you pay (and still look out for your very large senior population on fixed incomes).
Finally, please note that any non-confidential (and sadly, if not improperly, confidential) information that you believe you have not yet exclusively received (or perhaps don’t recall receiving) can, I am sure, be obtained from your friends on the board. We both know who your sources on the board are, so do us both a favor, and at least stop with the pretenses. Life is too precious to waste on false, needless, and harmful negativity. But if you want to continue in that vein, then so be it. As always, East River’s annual report (including all financial data certified by independent auditors) will be distributed to all cooperators prior to your upcoming annual meeting, as it has been in the past. You may think that you have some special entitlement, but you don’t. Personally, I don’t give a damn about what you may think you are entitled to. What have you ever done to improve any aspect of East River? Anything? Ever?
Bradley Scott Silverbush
ROSENBERG & ESTIS,P.C.
733 Third Avenue | New York, New York 10017
(212) 551-8409 (Direct Phone) | (212) 551-8484 (Fax)
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.rosenbergestis.com