Oil Tanker Fire

The ship was longer than three football stadiums lined end to end. She was valued at $45 million and carried 270,000 tons of hazardous crude oil. Her name was the Atlantic Empress and when she collided with the Aegean Captain, another fully laden supertanker, on July 19, the result was catastrophe: the worst oil tanker spill in history and a blaze that took firefighters over two weeks to extinguish.

Bowery Church Fire

On July 27, 1978, Manhattan Borough Commander John J. Fogarty faced a difficult fire at the 179-year old Episcopal Church, St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery, a New York City landmark that is the oldest site of continuous worship in the city.

From the Editor 30: Lies

Looking for lies and liars

I always remember the moment in the TV show Ironside, when the wily, wheelchair-bound detective played by Raymond Burr, summed up a stumbling block in his investigation of a murder. “The problem with believing what isn’t so,” he said, “is you keep asking yourself questions you can’t answer.”

From the Editor 29: Boards


April Fool’s Day came a day early for me this year.

March 31 began darkly. It was a rainy Thursday morning, and I was standing at the end of a line of people boarding a southbound M60 bus on Amsterdam Avenue and 122nd Street. The line moved up, the woman in front of me stepped onto the bus, and I had my hands in front of me, getting my MetroCard out of my wallet…

From the Editor 24: Discipline


Being on a board is like being on a diet. You know it’s for your own good, but it can get very tedious. Sure, you should eat soup and salad but doesn’t the cream-filled chocolate cake seem so much tastier?

From the Editor 23: Board Service


I was with my boss in her car, waiting at a stop light at 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue. A woman in a wheelchair was proceeding slowly across the street. The traffic light was blinking red and it didn’t look like she would make it across by the time the signal turned…

Financing Flavors

Sheldon Gartenstein, a senior vice president at the National Cooperative Bank, is matter-of-fact about the refinanced loan he handled recently for the 74-unit cooperative at 760 West End Avenue. “This particular co-op needed capital improvement funding of about a million dollars,” he recalls…

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Devil or Saint?

The 22-unit cooperative had its share of troubles. The managing agent was unresponsive, problems were mounting, and the board – in the person of one director in particular – seemed to be doing all the legwork on capital projects. Why not just pay that director to run the place?

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Breakfast With a Board Member

Paul Backalenick has been the president at 24-42 Bennett Avenue, a 56-unit cooperative in the Hudson Heights section of Manhattan, for three years. Replacing an autocratic, unpopular chief executive, Backalenick brought an easy-going style to his role, seeking out consensus, not confrontation. ..

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Biondi and Me

Many in the co-op world know something about the sad case of Nick Biondi. Over 20 years ago, his name became a word used to describe racism, much as “Pullman” (the surname of a nasty owner) became shorthand for objectionable resident who gets kicked out…

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Bed Bugs & Me


One little bug, and then a major upheaval in your life.

For me, it started a year ago, when I came home to my 22-unit Manhattan co-op to find a long-winded message on my answering machine…

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Tom Sinclair and Liz Roberts, a married couple who owned a co-op on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, felt like they’ve been sandbagged. They brought a buyer for their apartment to the board and expected an easy approval…

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