When the following two stories were first reported to us, we thought they might just be items some NYCHA exec wanted to whisper in our ear in order to cause Spotty to become nothing more than a never-ending series of Spot-corrections. They just had to be planted stories cause they were too good at pointing out some of the biggest problems at NYCHA. In particular the first one, because if it were true than there is even more corruption at the top of NYCHA's Org Chart than even we believed. However, we have now been told both stories by not only a couple of NYCHA's Nobles, but also by a couple of lower level (read: still honest) folks who have never deceived us in the past.
So, according to our sources, here's what you'll be finding out soon .
The Public Housing Spotlight had reported that Finkel's friends had purchased that Long Island City Building for a little over $8,000,000 just weeks before they leased it to NYCHA for over $100,000,000 for 20 years. Channel 9's Polly Kreisman discovered that NYCHA had looked at the building even before Ruben Schron and the rest of Finkel's Friends, but NYCHA did not attempt to buy it for the low figure. Instead Finkel and Franco decided the $100,000,000 lease was the way to go. And when the third voting member, Myrtle Whitmore, refused to agree, she was not re-appointed. Within a matter of weeks, Earl Williams was placed in Ms. Whitmore's slot, and he needed less than a week to open NYCHA's wallet to Ruben Schron and Finkle's other friends. They signed the huge lease, and Spotty screamed. But, little did Spotty know that this would be a story that would never die.
Well, friends, the $100,000,000 Phoenix has arisen again! And here's the current rumor. We're being told that Finkel pushed that building through even though the building would not be able to perform to our needs.
For one thing, the necessary Certificate of Occupancy is not on file. Now, even if that were the only story, this would be a big deal. How could NYCHA, with the resources of a slew of engineers, architects and lawyers, fail to check on that filing. A novice real estate agent would hide his/her head in shame for this type of failure.
But, that story becomes nothing more than a sidebar to the "Rest of the Story!" With apologies to Agent Maxwell Smart, we ask the question:
"Well, Chief, would you believe . . . that if NYCHA places the warehouse materials into the $100,000,000 as it promised, everything NYCHA has will fit on the first floor?"
The Chief would answer:
"That's physically impossible. The first floor can't hold all that material!"
And Maxwell's answer would be:
"You're right, Chief! But it may have to, as the floors in that building can not bear the loads that NYCHA needs to place on them."
UNBELIEVABLE? Well that's not what we hear.
We're told that just a couple of weeks ago NYCHA reps (including NYCHA's feared "Improbable Scheduler", Charles Aquavella ) met with the building's owner's reps to discuss solutions to this major problem. But the owners reps told NYCHA to go screw themselves. It would take millions of dollars to bring those floors up to NYCHA's requirements. The owner's reps stated that they now have a signed lease and if NYCHA can't move in the materials they wanted, NYCHA can use some more of the taxpayer's money to renovate the building!
So far, NYCHA has not commented on this rumor. When they do, I hope they address the second half of the rumor. It goes like this!
Finkel's Friends knew of the problems. But, they knew that Finkel was going to push through the lease no matter what, so they purchased the building knowing that it would have major structural enhancements performed at taxpayer's expense, making the building worth considerably more that in it's original condition. Also, as Finkel's friends are big in Real Estate, there is other good news here. Once the Authority begins "Privatizing" prime real estate locations (Strauss Houses on Manhattan's East Side, Pomonok in Queens etc.), these Friend's of Finkel can buy up some of these prime buildings. And, should they choose to manage those properties, they will have use of a conveniently located warehouse that was brought up to snuff by the gullible taxpayers.
In that same rush to get that lease signed for Finkel's Friends, another problem was overlooked. The building doesn't have a valid Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for the Authority's purposes. Until it does, the floors are safe. Nothing will be placed on them that could cause a collapse . . . yet!
Now, onto 90 Church Street! If you recall our March 31, 1999 "Y2K" Issue, we reprinted a memo from A Report from "Charlie Aquavella Director, Office of Facility Planning and Administration (FPA)". In the memo that was sent throughout 250 Broadway, Mr. Aquavella gave dates for the moves that will be taking place.
"90 Church Street
It is anticipated that moves to 90 Church will begin in July and be completed by December of 1999. Construction is under way, the contractor is on schedule, and a vendor has been chosen to provide state-of-the-art systems furniture with continuous counters, overhead storage bins, and all necessary office amenities."
Well, we're told that the Authority, with more engineers and architects on its payroll than most construction corporations, has screwed up again. This move will be delayed due to the Authority's not having planned for the computer infrastructure that will be needed at 90 Church.
Even now, at 250 Broadway, there are still units of the Authority that can't get the programs they need to function. Here's what their screen shows when they try to access data:
CANNOT CONNECT TO DATA BASE SQL-932
ERROR ON NETWORK
UNKNOWN CONNECTION PROBLEM
SYSTEM CAL FAILURE HAS OCCURRED
Now that's on a partially antiquated system. But when you intend on making major moves of personnel and equipment, planning should not be something one does AFTER announcing the dates for the move.
Meanwhile, the Keystone Kops of the Department Of Investigation (home of our IG) are running around trying to get as much publicity as possible for having uncovered people living in Public Housing apartments who have cheated the Authority out of some of the rent! According to the story in the Daily News, some cops, teachers and other Public Housing tenants had lied about their income thereby cheating from $5,695 to $60,000 off their rents over time.
Go get 'em, DOI! Forget the powerful who cheat the taxpayer's out of millions with a single contract. Don't touch New York City Housing Authority execs who are on Vendor's bribe lists.
But get that rent cheat who found a way to get $100 off of the rent money.
Now don't get us wrong. If people cheat the Housing Authority out of money, they should be prosecuted. (And we assume, of course, that Franco's main squeeze was caught up in this scandal. After all, as we reported, she lived in her moms apartment in NYCHAland without disclosing that fact, or adding her salary into that spot on the NYCHA forms for "household income." And Franco couldn't claim innocence on this either, as he would pick her up at the project in the morning.)
So yes, DOI. Grab those small time cheats. But then hide from investigating the millions being stolen by the powerful!
That's what we call prioritizing???
© 1999 Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
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