One Woman and a Facade


Attn: Tom Druelinger, HUD Buffalo Office

Date:  October 29, 2010

Re: McCarthy Manor, 501 S. Crouse Ave., Syracuse NY 13210

Sharon Sherman, d/b/a Greater Syracuse Tenants Network

Sharon Sherman, ostensibly working for the Greater Syracuse Tenants Network, is interfering with the Tenants Association at McCarthy Manor. There are 183 tenants, only 12 of whom participate with the Tenants Association. The so-called Tenants Association does not represent the interests of 171 of the tenants, nor is it supported by them. Nevertheless, Sherman is forcing herself upon management, claiming to represent the tenants.

Sherman’s only apparent source of funding is indirectly from HUD through the City of Syracuse.  The Greater Syracuse Tenants Network consists solely of Sherman; there are no other employees.

Sherman is not trying to work cooperatively with management, which has been outstandingly tolerant and cooperative in working with her. She is actively trying to stir up trouble among tenants.

One example: McCarthy Manor has a problem with bed bugs. At a tenants association meeting with about a dozen people in attendance, Sherman aggressively sought out all mention of bed bugs and every declaration of dissatisfaction with management. She loudly declared that not only would she go over the head of the local manager but also she would go over the management company and seek out the owners. She would file complaints with the City of Syracuse, HUD and the owners.

Afterwards, in a private conversation, Sherman acknowledged that she did not know how many apartments were infested, the duration of infestation, what management was doing about it, or whether tenants were doing their part.

Another example: Sometime around February, management sent the tenants a letter that they might terminate HUD subsidies. Tenants were in a panic that they would lose their homes. I met with management, learned that the chances of that happening were less than one percent, and that HUD required them to send the letter. I passed this information on to the tenants and the issue was laid to rest.

Last month, at the tenants association meeting, Sharon Sherman brought up the non-issue, fanned the flames of distress, then told everyone that she’d investigated and taken care of the problem.

Sharon Sherman does not have at heart the best interests of the tenants, is not willing to work cooperatively with management, and is only acting to serve her own ego and financial needs. Please take all appropriate action to terminate her funding and authorization to represent tenants.

Herewith the complaint I filed with City of Syracuse Commissioner Paul Driscoll:

Problem Statement

The so-called Tenants Association at McCarthy Manor has had about five presidents in the past eighteen months. Ray is currently the vice president or president. Marianne Ruzekowicz currently is the treasurer and the only signatory on the bank account. There is no secretary, or president/vice president. There are no board members. There are no written minutes of meetings. Only 12 tenants attended the last meeting.

Marianne is the only person with any continuing interest or control in the tenants association and she has no significant support. Other tenants are trying to start another association but she has informed them that it is not allowed. She is wrong. Multiple tenants associations at a single property are approved under HUD guidelines.

In recent months, Marianne has brought Sharon Sherman into the picture. Sharon identifies herself as a “temporary staff person” doing “voluntary activity” for the Greater Syracuse Tenants Network.

Sherman has taken over the McCarthy Manor Tenants Association. At the last meeting, Sherman opened the meeting, set the agenda, ran the meeting, and closed the meeting—after announcing that she was making Vice President Ray the president.

Sherman is an outside agitator who, with Marianne, is manipulating the agenda and the few naive tenants who are attending meetings.

This morning she tried to have a meeting with the management, claiming that she was representing the tenants, with the executive committee of the tenants association. Despite repeated requests, she did not produce a written list of the executive committee or the board members, or any minutes verifying the election of the president. She failed to establish any standing for negotiating with management. In response to my continued challenges, she left the property.

Greater Syracuse Tenants Network history

The Greater Syracuse Tenants Network was registered on January 13, 1994, with the New York State Dept. of State as a domestic not-for-profit corporation located at 101 Gertrude St. in Syracuse.

Currently, the Network office is located in the Park Central Presbyterian Church, Andrew McTyre, pastor. According to Rev. McTyre, the Network has had an office in the church since before his pastorate began. The Network pays for shared utilities but pays no rent. He says Sherman only comes into the office in the evening.

The phone is always answered by machine. On the recording, Sherman states that calls will be returned from off-location. [Currently, the voice message is badly mangled.]  The previous web site has been taken down and the current page says it is “in development.” The only mailing address is a post office box number.  [The redeveloped web site still only lists a telephone and post office box number.]

Sometime around 2003 the Network lost funding and Sherman’s time commitment to it was substantially decreased. She became employed with Meals on Wheels for a year or two.

By 2009, Charlie Frish was employed at the Network and ostensibly working with the tenants association at McCarthy Manor. One past-president reports that he usually did not return phone calls or follow up on commitments.

At some point Sherman became employed in the Community Development office of the City of Syracuse. She was fired from this position around November 2009. Thereafter, Sherman arranged for Frish’s departure from the Network. She assumed his income to augment her Unemployment. Frish refuses to talk about the Network except to say, “Call City Hall.”

Board of Directors

The Network has a board of directors. According to papers filed with the host church, there are nine members. According to papers filed with the City of Syracuse in September 2010, there are only seven members. [According to the web site today, it’s down to six members; the Network claims to speak for low income tenants but the chairman is not low income.]  An attendee at a Network meeting says the board members were not chosen for their professional expertise in areas such a law, public advocacy, management or accounting.

It appears that the board members are tenants, for whom a board position is the outstanding event in their life. Marianne Ruzekowicz, who is an elderly spinster with no memorable employment achievements, appears to be fairly typical. She is the treasurer of the Network as well as the McCarthy Manor association.

It does not appear that the board has the capacity to hold Sherman accountable for her inappropriate behavior.

Funding

City Hall reports that they have given the Network a block grant of $15,265 that is funding from HUD. According to the application filed with the city, the Network is also receiving funding from Home Headquarters in Syracuse. Home Headquarters denies having any knowledge or involvement with the Network. There are rumors of funding from the state and HUD, but no verification could be found.

Conclusion

It appears that Sherman has been unable to procure support or additional funding for the Network. The Network consists of a post office box and an answering machine. There is no evidence that the city’s block grant is being spent on anything else except Sherman’s support.

No one is holding Sherman accountable, and she has crossed the line from supporting a tenants association to commandeering it.

There should be an audit of her finances, as well as a time-audit of her activities.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne C. Woodlen

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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