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Public Housing Spotlight

Issue 15
Published on February 23, 1999

(Click Here for NYCHA "preliminary" Audit
by NYC Comptroller Alan Hevesi)

(Click Here for Directory of Issues)

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on NYCHA's tragic fire.

Inspect This!

Remember the tragic fire at
NYCHA's Vandalia Houses
where those poor firemen
lost their lives?

Remember when City Hall and NYCHA's Hilly Gross were so astonished that inspection records were not in place and immediately available?

Of course, their hope was that the relevant inspection records would have allowed blame to be placed on the low level employees that normally perform such inspections?

At the time, all of the NYCHA Management claimed ignorance of any problems with the handling of NYCHA inspection records, and, in the end, it wound up that only the bottom levels of the Housing Authority's supervisors (Superintendent and Project Manager) were faulted for not adhering to the rules. They were very swiftly transferred.

Of course, the Authority would like you to believe that neglecting to adhere to any of its inspection protocols was a failure of only the lower level nobles in NYCHA-Land. "If only someone from the ranks of the upper echelon at 250 Broadway had more hands-on at the Project level, everything would have been different. The inspection would have reported the deficiency regarding the closed sprinkler main valves, and there would have been no loss of life", is the gist of their reaction to this. So, they now push some unfair punishment onto that Super and Manager.

But is it true that if higher level Executives were running the show, could we all feel insured that all procedures would be followed and that all inspection reports would be forwarded swiftly to their intended destination(s)?

No, it looks like we sure as hell couldn't depend on the Nobles from the Castle at 250 Broadway!

You wanna have a little fun?

  • 1) Ask any Project's Superintendent and/or Manager about Apartment Inspection Reports.
  • 2) Ask him/her if it's not true that he is warned of the importance of getting those completed reports swiftly over to 250 Broadway.
  • 3) Then ask him/her if it would be acceptable for them to just let inspection reports just sit in a desk, sometimes for months, without passing them on to their destination?

Now, here's where the fun comes in:

  • 4) Tell him/her that over the course of 1998, more than 1,000 termination reports are still collecting dust in a drawer at 250 Broadway.

I hope you watched his/her face when you mentioned all those neglected reports!

As this issue goes to press, there are over 1,000 termination reports on failed inspections sitting in a desk at 250 Broadway. Theoretically, these reports could have information on inspection results ranging from non-verifiable income, drug dealing, illegal washing machines or even just missing two appointments for an inspection.

These apartment inspections are very important. These reports have information on HUD mandated apt inspection ranging from any number of violations. These folders may very well have additional charges for domestic violence and/or drugs and/or guns and/or dogs. But who knows? Nobody can tell while the reports are vacationing in that desk and are held captive by the Authority's Termination Unit. And with the files not getting to Legal, where they now belong, bad things can happen.

Say a Ms. Smith had missed 2 inspection appointments. Her Project Management sends her file to the Termination Unit for processing. Eventually, Ms. Smith informs the Manager that on both occasions her husband had beaten her and she had gone to the hospital.

An apartment inspection is now done, and everything turns out fine. Ms. Smith has fixed the problem, or, in Housing Authority terminology, cured the breach.

Now Ms. Smith wants a Victim of Domestic Violence transfer out of her apartment. Under NYCHA's policies, she's entitled.

But it can't happen. Ms. Smith's paperwork is sitting in a desk, and nobody from Legal has been clued in to this desk of hidden paperwork.

And the Executive's in charge of the Termination Unit are aware of the files in the desk. Sadly, I'd bet that as they read this they're trying to figure out a way to blame someone low on the NYCHA Totem Pole for this mess.

I'll also bet that the Law Department will soon be inquiring about the contents of the drawer full of overdue paper!

DUMB Award!

(Despicable - Underhanded - Mean - Boss.)

Robert Malamo

One of our friends in the Manhattan Borough Office sent us a copy of a reply to a Malamo counseling memo. We included a portion of the reply in our faxed issue. We'll include the entire reply here.

We believe that the content of the letter fully justifies our selection of Mr. Robert Malamo as the second recipient of the Public Housing Spotlight's DUMB Award!

We hope others will realize that having the right to reply is very important. In the following case, the reply makes it so apparent that the supervisor is harassing the employee and is not justified in counseling the recipient that it wouldn't be surprising for that DUMB supervisor to rip up the original memo.

The DUMB Supervisor, in this case Mr. Malamo, would destroy the memo so that others above him will never see the devastating reply!

Reply begins:

On February 11, 1999, I found myself sitting in Robert Malamo's office, next to (name withheld) receiving a " counseling memo". The reasons given were that while working at Polo Ground Houses:

  • 1) I did not login
  • 2) I filled out the location card incorrectly
  • 3) I returned from lunch fifteen minutes late.

I will take this opportunity to address these and other charges in this letter.

  • 1) It is true that I did not fill out the sign in sheet. I honestly forgot to do it. I punched in early at Polo Ground Houses and the Assistant Superintendents office, where the sign in sheet is located, was locked. By the time the office was opened, I had already gotten so involved and gung-ho about doing the work, that I forgot to perform the necessary paper work.
  • 2) I did fill out the location card, but instead of listing all the names of the people I was working with, I simply wrote in "Electricians." I was unaware that this violates any NYCHA regulation. I did write the date and our location on the card. Our boss, Mr. Mendez, knew we were at the Polo Grounds installing lampposts. The Superintendent of the project knew where we were working, as we had already informed him. Mr. Malamo did find us. So I'm left to wonder what this is all this about? Does Mr. Malamo have a hidden agenda?
  • 3) It is not true that I returned to work late after lunch. That would be impossible, as I never "went" anywhere for lunch. I saved a lot of time by having my lunch at the work location, on the Willie Mays' Ball Field while watching the generator, the TE-74 Hilti drill, the sawzall, grinder, lamppost, Parks Dept. head, our tools, and all the material that was needed to install the lampposts. I suggested that one of us eat our lunch on the ball field so we wouldn't waste at least an hour packing everything and bringing the equipment and our tools to and from the maintenance shop and our cars, respectively, and setting up after lunch.

Now it appears that I'm being written up for saving the Authority both time and money on this job.

Mr. Malamo also said that on Tuesday, February 16,1999, he was going check out my daily report to determine if I did as much work as he felt I should have done. If not, my guess is that he will issue another counseling memo.


On Friday, August 14, 1998, I was working at Strauss Houses with another partner. The job location was 224 East 28th Street, apartment 14D, ticket number 22397. We were to install two air conditioning outlets in the apartment, one in the rear bedroom and one in the living room.

We had difficulty making a materials list that morning. We had to move a lot of furniture so we could get to the work area and ascertain what was needed to complete the job; a handicapped individual occupied the apartment and there was no one else around to help. After lunch, we faxed the material list to an electrical supplier for pricing.

Because my mother suffered a heart attack, I came to work late Monday August 17 and Tuesday August 18. When I arrived on Monday, my partner, who suffered from severe lower back pain, had left for the day. I worked with the truck driver to secure the materials needed to complete the job. On Tuesday, I was given another partner to work with.

The first problem we encountered was the inability to pull the conductors out of the pipe coming from the loadcenter and going to the first outlet box in the living room. We used a pulling compound that was rather watery to try and loosen the conductors in the pipe, but to no avail. We knew we would have to install Wiremold from the loadcenter to the first outlet box in the living room. We proceeded to determine the route of our next pull into the rear bedroom.

On Wednesday August 19, after clearing the hardened plaster in the pipes, we completed the conductor pull from the living room outlet to the three outlet boxes in the front bedroom and three outlet boxes in the rear bedroom. We pulled out two conductors as we installed four # 12 THHN Solid conductors for the entire run.

On Thursday August 20, we began the day with the preparation of the new loadcenter, which had an increased branch circuit capacity and utilized circuit breakers as overcurrent devices. This new panel had to be retrofitted over the existing loadcenter. The cover for the existing panel had to be removed to allow the new loadcenter to fit over the existing panel. The new panel had to be electrically and mechanically secured to the existing loadcenter. We had to install jumpers that would extend from the riser taps and the existing branch circuit conductors to the new loadcenter's main lugs and branch circuit overcurrent devices, respectively.

To perform the aforementioned, the riser had to be de-energized, which affected many apartments. We informed the project Superintendent of our intentions. He had to notify the tenants. We started the work on the riser and branch circuit extensions after lunch. Because we encountered difficulties, that phase of the job was not completed until two- thirty PM. We still had to install Wiremold from the panel to the first outlet box in the living room, as well as pull four # 12 THHN Solid conductors through thirty feet of Wiremold and several fittings; one combo connector, two internal el's, three flat nineties, and install a raceway extension box and a duplex receptacle. Not to mention the wire pull in the living room and the installation of the two air conditioning outlets plus the raceway extensions for those outlets.

We had another problem. The next day my partner was going to be placed at another project and I had to attend a compensation hearing. So who was going to be here to finish this job? I asked for overtime. Mr. Malamo wasn't around and no one else could make the decision except for his superior. The overtime was given the green light.

When we pulled the four #12 conductors through the three living room outlets, we located more obstructions in the pipes. We finished the job at eleven o' clock PM. The tenant was satisfied with our work. I received no supervision from Mike Mastriano during the course of this job. Why was Mr. Malamo dissatisfied when my foreman wasn't? The foreman, Mike Mastriano, could have removed me from the job at anytime. Why didn't he if the length of the job had become an issue?

Mr. Malamo issued me a "counseling memo" for that. He suggested that the job took five days to complete. He counted the overtime as a day and the two half days as one day. He said it would have been better if I stayed out the two days I was late. In addition to that he threatened me with a local hearing in the future. He said he could get me out on days. He said I was out forty-five days. He failed to realize that I was out on Worker's Compensation.

The same day I received the write-up, I got injured on the job again. It was September 14,1998. I was working at 1539 Lexington Avenue with two partners; the ticket number was 86845. I was working in a tank room on ceiling fixture that had no power. The job required the use of a ladder.

There was an old, dilapidated ladder in the tank room. I had just been written up for taking too long to do the previous job. The maintenance shop was at least three blocks away. It would have taken a minimum of thirty to forty-five minutes to walk back to the storeroom. If the shop was opened and occupied by the storeroom keeper, I would need to secure and sign out a ladder and carry it back to the job site. In an effort to avoid giving Mr. Malamo another opportunity to "counsel" me, I attempted to save by using the ladder that was already in the tank room.

The ladder was very shaky, but it held up...for a little while. Eventually, the ladder collapsed with me on it. My lower back and right knee were injured. A MRI of the lower back revealed two herniated discs both pressing against the spinal cord and an unstable joint. The right knee has not had a MRI yet. However, I am experiencing a lot of pain behind the kneecap.

If I weren't working under the constant threat of unjustified counseling memos, I never would have chanced working off an unsafe ladder. But, I had to choose between my personal safety and job security, as it became obvious that I was going to be buried in counseling memos.

The accident occurred because of the harassment I was receiving from Mr. Malamo. Prior to returning to work, on Monday December 21,1998, I saw Mr. Malamo. The harassment continued unabated. Mr. Malamo said that he would not allow me to troubleshoot any more jobs, that from now on I would only be allowed to perform production work. He said he would be doing a daily check on the progress of my work, and that if I didn't do as much work as he felt I should do, I would be back in his office for more talks. He went on to say that the talks would lead to more counseling memos. He further promised that as soon as he gave me enough counseling memos, he would pursue a local hearing. He suggested that my going out on Worker's Compensation was a bit more than coincidental. I thought to myself, " man, I should've had tape recorder".

Well the man is doing just what he said he'd do. He is nitpicking and constantly creating a problem where there isn't any. This is harassment at its best. At this point I would like nothing better than to leave the area. One thing still bothers me. Every time I was to have a meeting with Mr. Malamo, I requested union representation. He would never schedule the meeting so as to allow the union rep to participate. I think that was a violation of my rights.


It's funny how things have picked up since we returned from our ill advised hiatus. We now have more than twice the number of email sources as we had only 4 weeks ago. We needed to compose 4 separate mailing lists, based on each of our sources area(s) of expertise within the Housing Authority. We also have 3 mailing lists with people who get some advance notice of Spotlight publishing dates and/or get very generalized questions from us about upcoming stories.

In fact, this issue's DUMB Award was totally re-written as a result of our asking for any other information on this issue's winner. At the time we sent that question out, our story on Mr. Malamo was less specific and shorter.
(Okay. You'd rather shorter stories. We agree. But, when we receive a copy of an actual document, such as the counseling reply, we worry that by printing only a portion of it we give the an opportunity to claim that the story is distorted. And, in this instance, putting everything on the table, so to speak, makes the DUMB winner appear even more foolish.)

The original story compared Mr. Malamo's past practice of sleeping on refrigerators with his rebirth as a typical NYCHA tyrant. It was a shorter story, but it was also much less filling! So we want to thank our mailing list friends for getting great information, for both of these stories, over to us. Keep up the good work!

© 1999 Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
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Contact Jack Ballinger at nychaspotlight@netscape.net
for a Real Audio sound clip containing a
conversation wherein DOI Investigator
John Kilpatrick discusses how he learned
that 2 NYCHA execs attended
a Mafia connected contractor's funeral .

Contact Jack Ballinger at nychaspotlight@netscape.net
for a Real Audio sound clip containing
the (3 Meg) confession of Tony DiAlto.
Tony was a member of a group of
corrupt Contract Inspectors working at NYCHA.
Neither Tony nor the person he confessed to
sharing his bribes with (Richard Penesi)
were ever charged, let alone prosecuted, by DOI.

For a great source of general tenant information,
visit the Tenant Net Home Page |

And for a great source of New York City news and
policy information, visit our friends at the Gotham Gazette

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