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Bliss chief draws criticism for illicit appointment

Apr 17, 2015 12:02 am
John Mason is reporting in the Register Star Hudson Housing Authority Executive Director Jeffrey First has drawn criticism over his attempt to inappropriately appoint a new member of the Housing Authority Board. On Fri., Apr. 10, First appointed Bliss Towers resident Martin Martinez to serve out the remainder of tenant representative Lee Bradshaw's board term. Martinez was sworn in Friday, but on Mon., Apr. 13, the city was notified by Karen Smith, general counsel for the Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center, that First did not have the authority to name Martinez to the seat. In an email to the city clerk's office, the retired acting Supreme Court justice said there was concern the appointment "was made without any transparency to those affected and that the appointee has been sworn in by stealth." Later that day the appointment was rescinded. First defended his decision, saying he was following past practice. However, the action in fact violated the bylaws of the organization he has directed for more than 20 years. The authority board consists of seven members, five appointed by the mayor of Hudson and two elected by the tenants of Bliss Towers. A tenant election must now be scheduled to fill Bradshaw's seat. Martinez said he intends to run. "I want to be part of the solution....I'm in it for the people," he said. Ed. note: Martinez is a former WGXC programmer; Housing Authority board member and Staley B. Keith board member Vern Cross is a current WGXC programmer. Read the full story in the Register Star.