The Rev. Dan M. Potter, executive director of the Council of Churches of the City of New York, has been arrested and charged with violating Albany's building codes in properties he owns.
Following the arrest, made in nearby Rensselaer, the clergyman was arraigned in Albany Police Court on two violations. A hearing was set for Oct. 27. He had been cited in the past for nearly 70 violations by the city Code Enforcement Bureau and fined more than $300.
State Sen. Carl McCall (D-Manhattan), a United Church of Christ minister who is on the staff of the Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Harlem, has called for Potter's immediate resignation from his post with the council of churches.
"I find it inconceivable that a known slumlord could be allowed to continue to serve as the chief executive officer of a body which is supposed to be the organized voice and expression of Protestantism in New York City," McCall said.
Gordon M. Brown, president of the council of churches, said he had not known of Potter's problems with Albany housing authorities, but indicated the council would "follow up" on the complaint brought by McCall.
Potter's problems with housing authorities were reported as part of a series on "slumlords" in late September in the Knickerbocker News of Albany. The newspaper said seven of his more than 12 properties have been cited for infestation and other violations by the Albany County Health Department in the past three years, and that his tax delinquencies exceed $16,000, including penalties.
Potter said he made "a horrible mistake" when he initially bought eight properties in 1963. He said he purchased the slum buildings "with every intention of stopping the blight on Clinton Avenue."
According to Potter, his hopes were shattered in the ensuing years by vandalism, overly technical code requirements, and tenants who used "all the gimmicks" to avoid paying rent. He said his rental income last year was $24,000, but utility bills alone exceeded $19,000, which kept him from paying most of his property taxes.
Potter asserted that he cannot afford a maintenance crew and does most of the repair work on the buildings himself. He said he hopes to "hang on for two or three more years until he retires from his council of churches post and can devote full-time to the properties.