Settlement Ends Bitter Infighting at a Fraternity

A century-old fraternity that was recently embroiled in internal strife between the national executives and members of several local chapters has reached a resolution to end the bitter infighting.

The national executives of the fraternity, Tau Epsilon Phi, have stepped down and allowed interim leaders to come in and run the fraternity while elections are organized. Those executives have also agreed not to run for any leadership positions in the fraternity, although they may still remain members.

These moves come as part of a settlement agreement to end a lawsuit brought by Nathaniel Broughty, the former president of the chapter at City College, and several other disgruntled fraternity members against the national leaders, who include the executive director George Hasenberg as executive director and the Glenn S. Linder as president.

Mr. Broughty and the other plaintiffs had accused Mr. Hasenberg and Mr. Linder of running the fraternity like dictators and using it for their personal profit. While Mr. Hasenberg collected a six-figure salary, the chapters were losing services, the lawsuit contended. To top it off, Mr. Hasenberg failed to hold elections for more than a decade in order to keep himself in power, the lawsuit said.

Now, however, as part of the settlement, all those allegations have been rescinded and the parties may no longer criticize each other in any medium.

“The settling parties represent and warrant that they shall not individually or collectively further defame one another in the press, on the Internet, in the social media, or in any other manner,” the settlement says.

The settlement, which was reached as part of a bankruptcy court proceeding in New Jersey, is still awaiting approval from the judge presiding over the lawsuit in New York.

“As a lawyer it’s rare and extremely gratifying to see so many people so excited about a new beginning they have worked long and hard to bring about,” Daniel Graber, the lawyer for Mr. Broughty, wrote in an e-mail message. “All I can say is this a great achievement for TEP, which has emerged from its death bed to look forward to 100 more years of greatness.”

In the settlement agreement, the executives say that they properly managed the fraternity’s affairs. They also agreed not to collect any further payments such as severance from the fraternity.

The settlement mandates that Mr. Broughty remove from YouTube footage of a protest in front of Mr. Hasenberg’s house, as well as any other video clips relating to the matter that may exist on the Internet.

“I’m extremely happy that we were able to come to an agreement for the benefit of the members and the organization and move forward,” Mr. Broughty said in an interview.

Mr. Broughty is one of 15 members of the fraternity’s interim executive board, which was impaneled last month. Lane Koplon of the University of Georgia is the interim head of the board. The fraternity has scheduled a national meeting for Oct. 22 and 23, when they plan to hold elections for a permanent board. It will be the fraternity’s first election in 12 years.

Since the settlement was reached in May, the fraternity has created a new Web site.

John Eligon and other court reporters for The New York Times take you inside the city’s halls of law every Friday. Have a tip? Send an e-mail message to [email protected].

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Big Deal | Sold for $24.9 million

A co-op at the Rosario Candela-designed 834 Fifth Avenue was the highest sale of the week, according to and city property records.

The apartment was sold by Harold Prince, the Broadway producer and director, to Hamilton E. James, president of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group, for $24.9 million.

The 11-room duplex has three bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms.

Mr. Prince had put it on the market for $33 million in 2009, but dropped the price in late December of last year to $24.9 million, when he listed it with Brown Harris Stevens, according to Streeteasy.

The monthly maintenance is $16,442. Turnover is rare in the building; Rupert Murdoch owns a triplex there for which he paid $44 million.

Big Ticket includes closed deals from the previous week, ending Wednesday.

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Con Ed Trims Power in Queens and Westchester

Consolidated Edison has reduced power to parts of Queens and Westchester County because of electrical problems, but customers should not see any major effect, though they are being urged not to use their air-conditioners as the region girds for the possibility of record-breaking triple-digit temperatures and power demand.

About 107,000 households in Glendale, Ridgewood, Rego Park, Middle Village, Elmhurst and Woodside, Queens had their voltage reduced by 5 percent around 2 a.m. on Friday.

“You may have noticed your lights a little bit dimmer,” said Allan Drury, a spokesman for the utility. “Some people will not notice.”

In Westchester County, about 29,000 households in Elmsford, Greenburgh, Ardsley, Irvington and Tarrytown also had their voltage reduced.

The utility hopes to restore full power later in the morning or “early afternoon, the latest,” Mr. Drury said. The voltage was reduced because of failed feeder lines.

Demand for electricity among the 3.2 million households served by Con Ed reached 12,710 megawatts on Thursday, approaching the record of 13,141 set on Aug. 2, 2006.

Friday’s forecast calls for a high of 101 degrees in New York City, which would break the record of 100 for the date, and a heat index of as high as 115.

Scattered power failures were a possibility, Mr. Drury said.

“We’ve said since the heatwave started that there are likely to be scattered outages with heat and humidity this intense,” he said, “but our job is to keep them confined and short in duration.”

Customers experiencing power failures or other problems can call Con Ed at 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

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Solar Credit Pricing Plan Too High

A plan to offer a guaranteed price for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) to purchasers of solar panels is way off course. A homeowner or small business who buys a solar panel can sell one SREC for each megawatt-hour of power produced by the panel. A typical home unit might generate 7 to 12 SREC’s a year. This is on top of state and federal tax credits that offset the purchase price of a solar panel by almost half the first year. The total value of all the subsidies is worth more than the purchase price of the system and is on top of the actual energy savings. That is the equivalent of stopping for gasoline and instead of paying $4 a gallon for gas the station pays you sixty cents.

SREC’s had been selling on the spot market for about $270 each to power companies who are required by law to purchase an increasing number each year through 2025. The power company passes on the cost to their customers which could cost as much as $90 million a year in the future. Solar panel buyers expect a rate of return of 13% a year based on current subsidies, quite a bounty considering current money market and Treasury bond rates are 1 to 3%.

But SREC prices can vary and, in fact, have dropped from about $300 to $100 in Pennsylvania because of the large number of systems installed. In Delaware, SREC prices dropped to $100 over a several week period at the end of March and traded at $105 on June 28 according to Flett Exchange, an auction company. Fuel cells were added to the Delaware Renewable Portfolio Standard in June and will reduce SREC requirements by 30% suggesting SREC prices will fall further. With the added potential credits from a planned 30 megawatt fuel cell plant, Delmarva Power would not need to buy more SREC’s until 2020. The Renewable Energy Task Force has been considering a request by Delmarva Power to establish a pilot program offering an “administratively set” fixed price for twenty years. The price they are considering is $270 a SREC for the first ten years and $50 in the second ten years. Obviously, such a high price is way out of line with current market price.

There are several other problems with this plan. The return on investment for solar panels is very sensitive to the value of SREC’s and the only risk a panel buyer has is the value of SREC’s. In our opinion, the fixed price being offered is not discounted for the removal of this risk or to current market value. A guaranteed SREC price will tend to keep panel prices high. The suggested $270 fixed SREC price for the first ten years supports an installed solar cost of $5.75/watt, typical of current contract estimates. At $100/SREC the supported price drops a third to $3.90/watt. Why should a solar installer offer a lower panel price if they are offset by high SREC prices? Electricity rate payers will make out much better allowing market conditions to set SREC price. Solar panel buyers already receive too high an amount in subsidies at the expense of lower income electric rate payers who can’t afford the solar panel purchase price. Let those panel buyers bear some of the risk.

David T. Stevenson
Director, Center for Energy Competitiveness

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New Ford Model Approved to Be a Taxi

New York City’s anointed “taxi of tomorrow,” a Nissan minivan, won’t be here until November 2013. But for now, there is one of the runners-up, the Ford Transit Connect Taxi. The Transit Connect was approved on Thursday by the Taxi and Limousine Commission for use as a yellow cab, along with the Ford Taurus and the Chevrolet Impala. The first Transit Connects are expected to hit the streets this summer, as fleet owners replace worn vehicles, primarily Ford Crown Victorias. Read more on Wheels. »

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Rangel’s Birthday Fund-Raiser Regains Its Popularity

It’s been barely half a year since Representative Charles B. Rangel, the long-serving Harlem Democrat and dean of New York’s Congressional delegation, was censured by an overwhelming majority of his House colleagues for failing to pay income taxes and misusing his office to solicit fund-raising donations.

But that hasn’t scared away many of New York’s big-name Democrats from attending Mr. Rangel’s birthday celebration, a highlight of the city’s campaign fund-raising season. According to an invitation sent out this week, the gala to mark Mr. Rangel’s 81st birthday is being hosted by the cream of the Democratic establishment: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo; Senator Charles E. Schumer; the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn; along with a host of Mr. Rangel’s House colleagues.

“The Rangel birthday gala is the premier political event of the summer, where dozens of elected officials gather with business and community leaders like yourself,” reads the invitation to the event, which is scheduled for Aug. 10 in the grand ballroom at the Plaza hotel. A $10,000 check entitles the donor to chair the event; $5,000 makes you a vice chair; $2,500, a “host”; and $1,000, a “sponsor.”

Last year’s party, held amid the ethics investigation into Mr. Rangel’s conduct, proved vexing for many invitees, who faced — and sometimes ducked — questions about whether they would attend the event in the closing months of a heated national election, to the embarrassment of Mr. Rangel. (Though the congressman was born June 11, 1930, that party was also held in August.)

Several of Mr. Rangel’s House colleagues skipped last year’s event, citing other commitments: Representative John Hall, who went down to defeat that fall, said he needed to march in a local firefighters’ parade; Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, had to visit family out of state. (She is on the host committee this year.) Last year, Mr. Cuomo’s aides would not confirm in advance whether or not he would attend, nor would Mr. Schumer’s. (Both made last-minute appearances.)

This year, Mr. Rangel appears to be less radioactive.

“If most people ended up going last year, in the thick of it,” said one Congressional aide, who insisted on anonymity to describe the boss’s decision, “I don’t think anyone’s going to be concerned now.”

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