I kind of fell into public service.
I started out as an attorney at the state Department of Labor to get my loans deferred.
You will find that a majority of African Americans who graduate from law school end up in the public sector. There are no jobs in the private sector.
I have worked for the state since 1994.
I worked at the Department of Labor until 2000. Now I am at the Office of Rent Administration at the Division of Housing and Community Renewal.
We handle cases involving rent control and rent stabilization. There is only one place where landlords and tenants can go—and that’s here.
People come here with complaints. They may be overcharged for rent. The landlord might be denying them their succession rights to remain in an apartment after the lease holder died.
After rent administrators issue an order, we review it to make sure everything is accurate. We write our decision for the commissioner to sign. We are, in effect, the commissioner’s deputy counsel.
This is an area of the law that’s very esoteric. But we make it happen.
We do our best to be fair and impartial. But I am an officer of the court. I do what my ethical obligations say. You have to enforce the law.We take it as a matter of pride that we are equally despised by the landlords and tenants. That means we must be doing something right!
The law leans toward the owners. You can set the rents. But there are all kinds of loopholes.
We get our marching orders from the Legislature.Rent regulations are drafted in Albany. We enforce the law as it exists. If people don’t like it, they really need to take their case to the Legislature.
Some days I feel good about my job and other days I don’t. But I do things away from the job.
I am outspoken, militant and black. I’m interested in political reform.
I don’t know that I do reconcile my political and professional beliefs. I don’t know if I can.
You have got to function in the world you are in while you are trying to achieve another one. You have to be responsible.
Carl Foster, Sr. Attorney Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Local 1359