|It's A Dog-Eat-Dog World
Of Co-op Living At Clearview Gardens
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Meet Edith Nussbaum. Edith is the mother of
my friend and colleague Mike Nussbaum, Tribune Associate Publisher. Ive met
and chatted with Edith quite a number of times over the past 11 years that Mike and I have
Mike, in addition to his responsibilities
here at the paper, has assumed leadership roles in numerous charitable, religious and
advocacy organizations. As a result of his fine work, I have found myself attending
meetings and or dinners in his honor and as to be expected, mom is always there.
Offender or Offended?
Shes a typical mom a
Jewish mother not that unlike my own. Michael, of course, is perfect in her eyes
(Mikes wife Dale and I could tell you otherwise). The grandchildren, Scott and Eric
are the supreme source of pride to her. To round out the Nussbaum clan, theres
Keaton, a musty looking adorable cutie dog pictured on this page.
Im not sure of how Edith feels about
Keaton. But, focus on this: it is Keaton and Edith that are at the center of this story of
Queens cooperative housing.
Mike grew up in Clearview Gardens, a large
co-operative located in Whitestone south of Willets Point Blvd, just west of
Utopia. Edith and her late husband were one of the original co-operators at Clearview,
purchased their co-op unit when it was built in 1952.
For those of you unfamiliar
with cooperative housing, the introduction to the by-laws of the Clearview Gardens Co-op
provides a simple explanation:
A housing cooperative is a group of
residences owned and operated by the families who live there. The entire property, or
community, is owned by the non-profit cooperative corporation, the shareholders of which
are solely residents. The "shareholders" are thus their own landlords! The
cooperative corporation holds title to the property and executes a blanket mortgage. The
individual familys liability is limited to its own investment.
The shareholders elect a Board of Directors
whose duties and powers are generally the same as those of corporate boards. All basic
decisions are made either directly or through the elected Board of Directors.
This, my friends, is where many a co-op
goes from well meaning cooperative living to maniacal governance. You see the Board of
Directors makes (and I guess enforces) rules to ensure that all
residents/cooperators/shareholders are forced to live in a cooperative and happy manner.
They print and distribute those rules as
by-laws or whatever in Clearviews case 16 pages of an outline for
behavior modification to live with others.
Now dont get me wrong, there have to
be rules and guidelines; I understand and endorse that. However, when it comes to where
you live, there has to be compassion and understanding. Clearview makes a weak attempt at
the compassionate with its page 3 "How Can I Make Clearview Gardens A Better Place To
Live?" For example #5, "Gently remind my neighbors not to allow their
children to play ball on front lawns." Isnt that "gently" just
what is needed?
But well skip the Carrying Charges,
Parking, Garbage Disposal, Apartment Inspections, Air Conditioning and Violation
Processing Fees and go right to Miscellaneous Rule #17 on page #12: Dogs are not
permitted to be harbored in apartments, or on corporate property for any period of time
including overnight and/or weekends. Violation of this rule is followed by a processing
fee of $25.00 and notification to our attorney or necessary legal action. Attorney is
authorized to institute dispossess or any other proceeding which he may determine.
Go back to the afternoon of Sunday, August
6 when Mike Nussbaum drove from his Hollis Hills home to pick up mom, Edith, at her home
in Clearview. Mike brought along Keaton for the ride. Edith lives on the ground floor of
the garden apartment. Mike knocked on the door; Edith opened it; Keaton (on a leash) ran
in; Mike followed. Edith said hello, picked up her bag and the three (Keaton still on his
leash in Mikes hand) walked back to Mikes car.
Boom! $25 Violation Notice "DOG IN
But Edith explained, he doesnt live
here. He never stays over. It wasnt even five minutes. My son just came to pick me
up. "Pay the $25 or we may begin eviction proceedings," she was told by one
Now we havent talked about
Ediths age. Mike is petrified that his mom would never forgive him if I refer to her
as the oldest person I know, so I wont. I cant quite understand why when
people reach those wonderful milestone years and function, they still are self conscious
about their age. As my late dad used to say: Old age is sure better than the alternative.
However, at age 90, even dad refused to use a cane because he said it made him look old.
But somehow, I cant imagine
responding to a very senior citizen like Edith in this way, this director responded to
Edith. Personally, its cooperative housing; no one should be treated in that manner.
But Edith, like many of her generation, is
a fighter and she is refusing to pay. So is her son, Michael. Me, Im not sitting on
the sidelines on this one either. If you havent figured it out, there is a modicum
of outrage coming from my keyboard.
Dogs are not permitted to be harbored in
Harbor: (vt) to serve as, or provide, a
place of protection to; shelter or house; conceal or hide.
Cmon give me a break! The mutt walked
in and walked out.
And now these Clearview bozos are
We called the Clearview Gardens and the
Secretary for Clearview Co-op Management told the Tribune: "The dog rule is
a Board policy and the manager of Clearview cannot discuss it." When asked about
the threat of eviction, we were told: "We cant discuss it."
Just before we went to press, we received a
copy of "Notice of Default" papers sent to Edith that could scare anyone into
compliance. They bully her, saying she is "required to cure the violation within ten
days from the postmarked date of this notice by removing said dog." That would be the
dog that left with Edith and her son on the day Michael picked her up. And they give her
until Sept. 11 to take action or her "tenancy will be terminated and you will be
required to remove from and surrender possession of such premises to the landlord."
Is it necessary to take our vulnerable
senior citizens and manhandle them with such delightful tactics?
Were not sure of the next chapter but
Michael or I will find an attorney to defend Edith. We will follow this absurd behavior by
the Board of Directors of Clearview Gardens. Perhaps we will invite some of you dog owners
to come visit some of the Board members with your pets and us. Perhaps well just
print the names of the board members.
If anyone wants to let them know how you
feel, you can reach them at: Clearview Gardens, 160-70 Willets Point Blvd. PO Box 570337,
Whitestone, NY 11357. Please send me a copy of anything you send to them.
As far as Im concerned, their own
shareholders should start writing and complaining.
Edith has been a good resident for almost
50 years and what type of recognition does Clearview give her?
Shame on you Clearview Gardens!
If you have any other interesting tales of
outrageous treatment of any sort in Queens, feel free to share them with me.
FAUSTO RODRIGUEZ: Last week I lost a
Queens lost a fine and honest businessman.
A family tragically lost a loved one when Fausto Rodriguez was shot to death in a struggle
with an armed robber at his store, Jillians Jewelry on the westbound service road of
the Long Island Expressway in Bayside.
I knew Fausto since he ran Lupys
Jewelry with his first wife on the same block as his present store. We did business way
back then. He advertised with the Trib. I bought holiday gifts for my wife and
staff members at his creative, pleasant establishment. We did business with each other for
maybe 20 years.
I know his oldest son Giovanni who
frequently helped me when I shopped at the store but has since moved to Florida with his
own family. Ive met his older daughter Jillian. My wife recently met Faustos
new wife Elizabeth. They had two children, a boy 9 and a girl 7.
I extend my condolences to Elizabeth and
her children and to Giovanni, Jillian and Lupy.
Fausto was a charming, creative, warm
gentleman who always had time for friendly and meaningful conversation when you stopped by
He was what retail business in Queens was
Ill miss him.
|Reprinted from the Buffalo Beat, Buffalo,
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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