All posts by Cooperatively Yours

Change starts at home


Last week’s election has affected us all in different ways. In many ways it was a reminder of all the values that are as appropriate to our coop as they are to our country — respect for individuals, elected leadership accountable to their constituents, and the power of voices, when raised appropriately, to be heard.

Many of us are feeling like we could have done more to help shape the future. Here is your chance – as the saying goes, “All politics is local.” You can still help shape the future of our community. Action for positive change starts at home.

We are running for the board of directors to open up communication with all cooperators — to ensure you are consulted and heard before maintenance fees are increased, before shareholders’ heirs become absentee landlords, before 8-foot tall fences are built, and before potentially inadequate planning saddles you with unexpected assessments. Our goal is to add relevant management expertise and fresh, new ideas to the existing board while increasing transparency into major decisions so that your voice is heard.

Please add your name to our campaign.

We just posted the complete results of our recent survey. You can see that the largest area of dissatisfaction among the hundreds of responses is the board’s lack of transparency and the board’s failure to seek input on major decisions. We agree with you! If we are elected, your opinions and input will be solicited, considered, and valued. The financial health of our coop is very important — but equally important is your enjoyment of living here and your satisfaction with the services we receive.

We plan to put just one letter under doors, signed by our supporters. Over a hundred cooperators signed our letter last year — let’s raise that number and show our neighbors that we are no longer willing to be ignored and intimidated.

Please add your name to our campaign.

There is so much we agree on. The diversity and affordability of our coop need to be protected and we want to facilitate an open, respectful conversation about the best way to achieve these goals. If you support us for the board, we will advocate fiercely for transparency, shareholder involvement, and substantive communication.

Cooperatively yours,
Mary Jo Burke
& Julian Swearengin


Another cooperator endorsement, this one for Rajkumar

Two weeks ago we asked cooperators to send in their personal endorsements for candidates for Tuesday’s primary. We also reached out to each of the six campaigns for endorsements from East River Cooperators. Today we received this endorsement for Jenifer Rajkumar from Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, who has lived at East River just over a year:

jenifer-rajkumarJenifer Rajkumar knocked on our door one night last week after dinner to ask for our support in her campaign for State Assembly. We stood at the door and talked for more than 20 minutes about the neighborhood, this election, city politics, and her background. She, and the conversation, were remarkable. She was genuinely interested in my concerns about the neighborhood and answered my questions clearly, frankly, and showing a deep knowledge of community issues. She came across as progressive, politically savvy, and razor sharp. The fact that she came door to door to introduce herself, and to ask us about the issues important to us, indicates to me a desire to work hard and do what it takes be a true representative of her neighbors.

I moved to New York in 1981 and have lived mostly in the East Village and Lower East Side. In all that time, I’ve never been canvassed personally like that. All the Democrats running against Alice Cancel have similar progressive politics, but I think we need someone smart, persuasive, and hard-working like Rajkumar in the Assembly. We need more strong, ambitious young woman Democrats in city politics, and Rajkumar won my vote.

Agree? Disagree? If another candidate has your support, let us know at

Hyper-local endorsement for AD65

Two weeks ago we asked cooperators to send in their personal endorsements for candidates for Tuesday’s primary. We also reached out to each of the six campaigns for endorsements from East River Cooperators. We got one response, from cooperator Susan Levinson, who sent in the following endorsement for Paul Newell:

paul-newellSeveral weeks ago, I attended a Meet and Greet event at East River for Paul Newell and Lee Berman. Previously I hadn’t known too much about Paul, although I’d certainly heard good things about him. It’s a huge understatement to say that I was *incredibly* impressed with Paul, to the extent whereby I’ve been volunteering for his campaign ever since (and it’s been many years since I last devoted serious time to a candidate’s campaign). What impressed me the most — aside from Paul’s tireless efforts as our district leader, his work on various issues and his genuine earnestness — was his innate kindness. I really think that combination is quite a rarity in politicians and therefore I think Paul would make a *superb* State Assemblyman.

Agree? Disagree? If another candidate has your support, let us know at

East River Yard Sale returns September 25


This just in from Dawn Fox, who organized the successful yard sale this past spring:

Due to the overwhelming success of the 1st Annual ER Co-op Yard Sale this past spring, an autumn yard sale has been planned! Woo hoo!

Please join your neighbors at the autumn East River Co-op Yard Sale on Sunday, September 25th from 10am – 4pm.

Rain or shine!

Located at the basketball courts behind East River’s Building #2 at 577 Grand Street at the corner of Madison Street.

Spaces are FREE but sellers must RSVP with the below info;

If you are an East River resident and interested in being a seller, please contact with the below information by Sunday, September 11th:

* First and last name(s) of all adults participating
* Apt # (Including the section letter and apt. number)
* Cell # (if you do not have a cell number then provide your home #)
* Email address(s) of all adults participating

Sellers must bring their own tables and chairs. They will NOT be provided.

Selling is only for ER Cooperators but everyone is welcome to come and take part in the yard sale’s great deals!

Come for the bargains, stay for the community!!!

Too hot? Community room open with A.C.




The Cooling Center is now open in the Community Room in Bldg. 4 for all residents who require this service. In this heat, we ask cooperators to check on their neighbors who might require assistance and not know of the benefit of the Cooling Center.

Thank you.

Note: The community room is located in section M, 477 FDR Drive. Enter in the back hallway behind the elevators.

Memo: The Passing of Heshy Jacob

June 29, 2016

To: All Cooperators

From: Gary Altman, President

Re: Heshy Jacob

As most or all of us know by now, our long-time General Manager Harold (Heshy) Jacob passed away last week after a relatively short illness. The good deeds and life saving actions which Heshy performed every day are little known by many people but have affected thousands and thousands of people and families of every race, religion and ethnic origin in our community and throughout our city and state. The respect that Heshy never sought out but had attained through a lifetime of tireless charitable, community and civic devotion meant that virtually no major politician running for city, state or national office didn’t call or stop by to sit down with Heshy. The benefits of these relationships have improved the lives of so many in our Cooperative Village. Below I will write about just a few areas in which Heshy’s life impacted so many but first want to write about our co-op at the present time.

Heshy became our General Manager in 1988 joining Shulie Wollman, our Manager, who arrived 2 years earlier in 1986. Heshy and Shulie saw us through, to name a few, reconstitution, new roofs, elevators, lobbies, hallways, Superstorm Sandy, upgrade of our electrical infrastructure and the transformation of our property into countless beautiful garden areas. Our carrying charges are virtually unmatched anywhere else with the level of maintenance service we provide. Any cooperator who believes, as I do, that this is not only a beautiful, fantastic and desirable place to live but a cooperative where a large and diverse group of people live in harmony, owes much of this success to Heshy Jacob and Shulie Wollman.

In recent years as Heshy geared up for an eventual retirement, that sadly he will not get to enjoy with his beloved wife Esther, his 5 children, many grandchildren and even great grandchildren, he turned over much of the day to day running and management of our cooperative to Shulie. Heshy, among many other things, then focused years of energy and time bringing the boiler room conversion to a very successful conclusion. Besides saving millions and millions of dollars in fuel costs our new plant now burns clean natural gas which is a bonus environmental and health benefit to all of us. Shulie while running day to day management has just completed the beautiful renovation of our fitness center, last year’s community room upgrade, renegotiation of our mortgage at very favorable rates, further expansion of our gardens, renegotiation of large commercial leases, 3 laundry room underground pipe repairs, labor contracts, union matters, finances, security and myriad issues facing a cooperative of about 4-5,000 people. Heshy’s loss is immeasurable but our Cooperative remains in very capable, committed and devoted hands.

It is said that he or she who saves but one life it is as if they saved the entire world. Then Heshy’s lifelong volunteering work in front of and behind the scenes saved many thousands of worlds. As President of NYC Hatzolah, and the Founder of the Lower East Side Hatzolah, our incredible daily life saving volunteer ambulance corps, Heshy used much of his free time building a volunteer organization which 24/7 – 365 days a year serves one purpose – SAVING LIVES. Very few of us have not been affected by this amazing group of people. Hatzolah answers every call and never, never, never asks about your religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. They only ask what is wrong and where you live. It doesn’t matter if it is 2 A.M. or the Sabbath, they come running with their equipment, often before their ambulance is retrieved from its nearby garage. Call 911 and take your chance on how long you may wait. Call Hatzolah and with their life saving quickness and expertise you will likely be attending your cousin’s wedding in a few weeks. On 9/11 Heshy and many of our Co-op Village Hatzolah volunteers were not only first responders but one of the VERY first responders. They were there so quickly and were so close to the towers that they had already treated numerous of the injured when the first tower fell and destroyed their ambulance and almost took a number of their lives. This was one of Heshy’s passions and it extended to other areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Upstate where Hatzolah ambulances, supported only by donations, stand ready 24/7 to save lives. A few years ago when a cooperator with Alzheimer’s went missing, Heshy within minutes mobilized a huge search group. Our cooperator was safely found wandering in Northern Manhattan.

As General Manager of East River Housing and Hillman Housing, Heshy was in charge of 2,500 apartments containing approximately 6,000 people. This is more people than most towns and villages in our country. With so many people come the usual social, financial, medical, emotional and conflict issues that invariably arise and eventually often come to the Management Office. Heshy, Shulie and the staff dealt daily with many of these problems which rightfully very few people should ever know about. As Chairman of the United Jewish Council of the East Side, Heshy and the Council’s devoted staff served the needs of countless families of all religions who needed social services, financial, housing, home health care help, etc. For East River cooperators that meant that any person who needed assistance for themselves or a loved one (like a child or elderly parent) could always go directly to the UJC or if they first contacted the management office could immediately be assisted or directed to the proper party. No person who came forward or who was heard to need any kind of assistance was ever left behind. If a family member’s name was on file, they were contacted and apprised of the situation so they could hopefully also help with emotional and other support for loved ones they had often left somewhat on their own.

At his funeral 2 comments made really struck me as indicative of the inner heart and soul of Heshy. One was when Rabbi Reuven Feinstein said that when one asks for volunteers for an assignment people stand up, sometimes reluctantly, but with Heshy, “He would jump up and say count me in, what needs to be done and he would get it done.” If I received a call or letter and couldn’t personally help and brought a cooperator’s problem or need of assistance to Heshy he would immediately spring into action or pick up the phone and start making calls. In extreme cases he would ask me to give him a day or 2 to find a solution, and sure enough within days the cooperator received the help he or she needed from the proper sources.

The second was when his oldest grandson said he once asked his grandfather, “Why do you do so many good deeds?” Heshy answered, “It is in my nature, my blood. I have no choice. I have to help people and as long as I have strength, I’ll be there.” To those who truly knew him, he was not the sometimes boisterous and opinionated great presence you saw when he fought for our community or a cause he believed in. Politicians never wanted Heshy on the other side of an issue affecting our community. To his friends and family he was in private a humble man who never boasted publicly of his accomplishments and good deeds. He was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather who by example taught all around him the meaning of community, charity and good deeds often at the expense of more time that could have been spent with his loved ones.

One of the greatest enjoyments in life, besides our family, is helping others to the best of our ability without fanfare or seeking out acknowledgements. In this Heshy Jacob was a giant and a friend whose stature and influence the Lower East Side may never be able to replace. In his memory and on behalf of our community and all those in need let’s all commit ourselves to respecting each other, getting along and helping as best we can. In this way Heshy’s life accomplishments will continue to bear fruits in the years to come.

Thank you! (from Jim, Michael, Ted, Fath, Julian, and Mike)

We’d like to extend an overdue thank-you to those of you who supported our campaign for the board of directors and house committee earlier this month.

We’d also like to offer congratulations to the winners — Ellen Gentilviso, Richard Kenny, Tommy Schlanger, and John Sotomayor.

The experience we had talking with cooperators about the future of East River was immensely gratifying, and each of us enjoyed meeting new neighbors and engaging old friends.

In particular, there were dozens of volunteers who helped reach out to shareholders, and 120 of you whose public endorsement meant a great deal to us. Thank you!

The high turnout for this year’s election is enormously encouraging. We hope these conversations will continue, and that the negative accusations thrown against some of us in the closing week of the campaign will not discourage others from participating in the election process. A community like ours deserves a lively, open debate about the policies that guide us.

Cooperatively yours,

Jim Keenan
Michael Marino
Ted Pender
Faith Schreier
Julian Swearengin
Mike Turner

Next up for East River storm surge project: public comments tonight at Bard H.S.

Extent of flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Extent of flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

There’s a public meeting tonight for the next phase of the design process for the huge project that’s going to re-make our waterfront:

Thursday, December 3rd
Presentation at 7:00 P.M.
Bard High School Early College
525 East Houston Street

This meeting is called a public scoping, which means the public gets to comment on a draft scope of work document that will then influence the environmental impact review that will have to be done on a project like this. That draft scope of work document is long and dense and can be found online here.

If you can’t make it in person tonight, you can also email comments to

Incumbent slate wins big in board election

Counting the ballots and proxies concluded just under an hour ago, and the winners are Ellen Gentilviso, Richard Kenny, John Sotomayor, and Tommy Schlanger.

Turnout was strong again, comparable to last year, around 950 shareholders. Winners picked up between 526 and 572 votes; the Cooperatively Yours slate came in well behind, with 356 – 380 votes.

All four house committee candidates won by unanimous consent at the annual meeting and votes for those seats were not tallied.

Update: There were some additional general proxy ballots discovered Thursday morning that had not been counted Wednesday night. They did not change the outcome, though the total votes that should be posted today will be a higher than the numbers above.