Okay fellow Spotsters, the DOI cover-ups
just might hit the fan after all!
(The IG is really part of the NYC Dept. of Investigation, or DOI)
Joe Calderone, the Daily News Chief of Investigations, has a report in today's Daily News (Dec. 1, 1999) that should kick start the investigation we were looking for!
While none of this story will cause eyebrows to raise amongst those who have been around NYCHA or other City Agencies these past few years, they will make it harder for politicians to hide behind the "DOI tells me that they are investigating the NYCHA charges, so why should I (or we) do anything more?"
As the Corruption Issue (on the Web) points out, after finding the $50,000,000 in "disappeared" contracts at CAD, I and a few other NYCHA employees began looking into other problems that were a constant in Field Inspection. Favoritism was constantly shown to a select group of "friendly" contractors, while strict enforcement was the rule for other (less friendly) contractors. We worked together for almost a year collecting info that we intended to bring to the local US Attorney. But, after I was approached by one of the Inspectors who was taking kickbacks, we decided to give the DOI/IG a shot. It was a hard decision, as none of us trusted the IG's people.
(At the first meeting, I told the investigators that I was reluctant, as I believed that they'd cover everything up and go back to grabbing people who were caught late at their coffee break. And, prophetically, I said that I worried that if the investigation touched on any high ranking NYCHA Execs, the investigation into that area would be stopped. And it WAS!)
To a person, that original group regrets going to DOI. And I'd have to personally advise any friends of mine to steer clear of any contact with DOI, unless you're looking to cause yourself nothing but grief. (But if you have to meet with them, carry your own pocket recorder, so you can later verify what went down.)
But now DOI is caught in a pinch here. The News reports that:
Joe Trivisonno, a former Brooklyn Buildings Department commissioner, said he wrote to Investigation Commissioner Edward Kuriansky two months ago outlining the circumstances of his ouster, including a charge that he was removed on orders of Mayor Giuliani's then-chief of staff, Bruce Teitelbaum. Three Giuliani administration sources have told the Daily News that Trivisonno was forced out on Teitelbaum's orders after stopping work at a Heyward St. condo being built by a politically connected Orthodox Jewish sect."
It goes on later to state:
He wrote to DOI after receiving a form letter from Kuriansky sent to all recent retirees in which the department encourages them to step forward if they have observed "conditions or practices you considered wasteful or ripe for abuse."
Trivisonno wrote to DOI on Sept. 22 and included a copy of a Feb. 14 letter of resignation in which he described Silva telling him he was being relieved on "orders from the then-chief of staff at City Hall."
"It is a well-known fact ... [that] this arbitrary and capricious action was a direct result of private individuals wishing to build illegal buildings in the borough," Trivisonno wrote. "It was and probably still is their belief that with me gone they could bring enough influence to allow their buildings to be built without regard for the laws of New York City."
But Trivisonno said DOI, a mayoral agency, never contacted him.
"I never heard from them," he said. Department spokesman Kevin Ryan declined to comment yesterday."
End of article quotes
And that story explains the conundrum faced by (too many) NYCHA contract inspectors. Do your job honestly, and you may step on the toes of a friend of City Hall. That is a definite NO-NO!
If you still insist on maintaining a modicum of your integrity, you will surely get screwed. And if you complain to DOI, you not only get no satisfaction, before you get back to your work area, your meeting with DOI has become public knowledge. Now your double-screwed, and everyone knows it!
Of course, there is a route of least resistance. You can choose between doing nothing, and letting the contractor screw both the taxpayers and NYCHA's tenants. Or, you can sit at a desk and just count ceiling tiles. For if you are inspecting a contract of one of those "favored" contractors, you will NEVER get into any trouble as long as the contractor is happy.
So, I believe I speak for the majority of the NYCHA employees when I say:
Mr. Trivisonno, I salute you!
JoAnna Aniello is back in our pages. Seems she got into a little trouble lately, but used the trouble to strike out at others.
At the Red Hook Development, the painters were directed to paint the stairhalls with Oil-Based Paint. After all the horrors of our fires a couple of years ago, people realized that this was a no-no. (How did some idiot even order oil-based paint for NYCHA?)
Well, we're told that City Hall got word of this, and they expressed their displeasure to Joanna. Instantly, the painters were told to repaint with paint grabbed from other projects. But even that's a problem, as we're told the borrowed paint is past it's shelf life and shouldn't have been used. So, in the near future there will be more sand-blasting at Red Hook.
Meanwhile, Ms. Aniello used this to settle some old scores. Although Rodney Davis gave the order to use the oil-based paint, Joanna transferred Caesar Gentile. Seems Joanna doesn't like it that Caesar is friendly with Paul Graziano, so she dumped on Caesar.
(December 3, 1999 Update: Caesar Gentile was NOT transferred. Joanna Anielo had him demoted and Mr. Gentile lost around $10,000 a year in salary. We apologize for the misinformation on the transfer.)
And so it goes!
© 1999 Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
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