Dayton Beach Park Election Set For October 20
With its workers on strike since July and with a private armed security force protecting President Jennifer Grady, cooperators at Dayton Beach Park will vote on October 20 for a new board, in an election that many consider a vote of confidence for the beleaguered president.
Maintenance workers and porters at the six-building complex have been on strike since early July.
They charge that Grady, who comes from a union family, wants to destroy the union and its contract in order to hire lower-paid workers.
Many of the cooperators who live in the building support the workers.
Grady, however, says that she does not want to destroy the union, but that her middle-class constituency can no longer support workers with union salaries and benefits.
She claims that workers and their supporters have defamed her because of her color and her girth and promises she would not allow a contract that brings a rise in maintenance charges.
She charges that her life has been threatened and she has hired armed security guards to escort her to and from the complex each work day.
Earlier in the year, police were called to the scene when one of the security guards allegedly pulled a registered handgun on a striker.
Both sides have been vocal and local politicians such as State Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilman James Sanders Jr. and Democratic District Leader Lew Simon have weighed in on the side of the striking workers.
One of the contentions by Grady’s detractors is that the president and her hand-picked building manager have manipulated the vote count in past elections, doing the count behind closed doors.
This year, as in past years, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has hired the Honest Ballot Association to monitor the election and count the ballots.
That does not assuage residents who believe that the vote is somehow flawed.
“At the last election, the ballots were dropped in a box in the management office and the manager had the key to the box,” says Dolores Orr, a resident and the chair of Community Board 14. “An official from the Honest Ballot Association went into the office with the manager and they locked the door, spending about a half-hour in the room alone before the ballots were counted.”
Detractors say that Grady has moved to evict several of the people who are working against her, sometimes on very flimsy grounds, such as honking their car horns inside the complex or parking over the white line in their paid parking spaces.
Those running against Grady are hoping for a high turnout. Residents can either drop their ballots in the office or mail them prior to the election.
“I don’t know how many people will vote,” Orr said. “People are so disgusted that many of them are turned off to the entire election. She has her own private army here, and what she does is just amazing.”
Others have told The Wave that they believe the election will be fixed one way or another for Gray’s reelection, even with an outside group monitoring the vote.
“It does not matter who the vote is for, Gray will win,” one disgusted cooperator who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution said. “You can have outside monitors, but she has the building manager, and he has the key to the ballot box and a locked office. You figure it out.”
Tom Harrison, one of the insurgent candidates, said that he was run off by Grady and security when he tried to put flyers under the doors of other residents.
Then, he said, outsiders went around putting flyers for Grady under all the doors in the complex.
“Those outsiders had keys to all the buildings,” Harrison said. “How can that be safe?”