Daniel Benedict pulled off a major Michael Bloomberg Monday night. Just as New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted for term limits two times, WVH resident shareholders, by a 2 to 1 margin voted for a break-with-the-past board. Term limits didn’t really work for Bloomberg so he squashed them. So to, a board that was not of his own design didn’t really work for Benedict. Each man used his political muscle to get his own way. It may be legal, but it sure ain’t right. Apparently, some businessmen feel entitled to override basic principles of democracy when they get in their way. A big mistake when the seat you occupy is ultimately determined by an electorate. The will of the people is a beautiful, wild, and vengeful force, a reality Benedict will have plenty of time to ponder as he serves out his last year on the board.
Things could have been different. I saw a legitimate place at the table for the investor who, after all, still controls about 80 apartments. But that would have required that he play well with others. Benedict could have sat out this election, just voted for himself, and let the residents decide the rest. Unfortunately, he could not resist playing “Father Knows Best” and as a result, he is a dead man walking.
Who knows why he selected the group he did. One thing I do know is that our neighbors will never side with him over us. And as a lame duck, he has no leverage anyway, nothing he can legitimately put on the table. This could be a productive and exciting year for the resident board members, all of whom want to represent our community and not some special interest. And for the first time, we have a chance for an all-resident slate of officers.
And next year we will have the first all-resident board at WVH! I particularly look forward to new post-conversion neighbors running for that board. Some of them have raised troubling issues about things they were promised by BRG that have not materialized and we may need to address these issues as a co-op.
The puppetmaster has overreached and so he’s finished. This particular tail has wagged the dog for the last time.