On January 6, 1997, Tony DiAlto and I met with Steve Gruberger and John Kilpatrick of the NYCHA Inspector General's office (a branch of the NYC Dept. of Investigation.) Tony had wanted to get total immunity for his past crimes by giving an account of contractor's who were bribing a large group of NYCHA's Contract Administration Department Structural Inspectors. The contractors wanted the Inspector's assurance that their work would not need to be up to the specifications contained in their construction contracts with NYCHA.
Whatever you may think of Tony's motivations, or of my part and that of a dozen other NYCHA employees in that investigation, there was one assurance we demanded. That was a promise that this investigation would not stop at the lower levels of NYCHA. That if we uncovered corruption higher up that NYCHA Organization Chart, it would be exposed.
At that first meeting, I told the IG's Investigators: "Neither Tony or I want to see a farce like the last Building Department scandal, where a dozen low-level inspectors, wearing handcuffs, were all marched before cameras, while every level of their supervision were given a pass as supposedly not realizing that their whole damn department was rife with corruption."
Kilpatrick, the more verbose of the pair from the IG's Office, acted shocked and promised that the investigation would never stop at the low levels.
Well, contrary to the headline in the Daily News, Manny Lawrence, John Honohan and Chris Bamberger are NOT "Housing Bigs", and if it's possible for them to smile this morning, calling them "Housing Bigs" is probably the one thing that could do it.
As soon as we gave the IG's office information of corruption that went to actual NYCHA Executives, the Investigation was shut-down. I, and others, stand ready to testify to that effect. And if the Daily News story on Saturday is to be believed, "The officials added that they knew nothing of the bribe allegations, made by the city Department of Investigation."
The News story was a bit incomprehensible when it comes to which "officials" that statement came from. If it meant NYCHA officials, can anyone imagine NYCHA Execs not knowing of the bribery we reported on OVER and OVER? Of course not! And if it meant that Ms. White's Federal Prosecutor's office had never heard of the aborted DOI/IG investigation of NYCHA bribes, then she should call her boss, Janet Reno. Not only is Ms. Reno's office faxed copies of our Spotlight, I have Certified mail receipts for Ms. Reno's office, and a slew of other Federal Agencies who have received a long, detailed letter covering the DOI/IG idiocy.
And coverage of the same bribery at Contract Administration Department, while Directed by William (little Billy) Russo, has appeared for days on WWOR-TV, Channel 9, reported in the print media by both City Limits and Noticias Del Mundo and had even garnered a mention in that bastion of fair reporting (NOT!), the NY Post.
I will again send this issue by fax to Ms. Reno. Maybe, someone can get a copy to the local Federal Prosecutor's office.
This is a farce people, and I can only hope that the defense attorneys of the three charged individuals call the right witnesses to expose the farce. (Unless deals are already cut to keep quiet those three men who have been charged, thereby stalling the Federal Investigation at those same low levels. That, of course, always protects those who are well-hung, politically speaking!)
Have I got a deal for you!
Directly quoted from Spotlight Issue 23-June 15, 1999: "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.' "
According to one of our sources, it's now time to take a fresh look at how Kalman Finkel's $100,000,000 Long Island City building is doing. Remember, just weeks after NYCHA looked at a building in Long Island City that was being sold for around $8,000,000, a group of Mr. Finkel's friends, led by Mr. Ruben Schron, purchased that very building. Then, NYCHA decided to withdraw from talks with the owners of a different LIC building, and chose instead to offer over $100,000,000 for a twenty-year lease with the Fink's friends. The Spotlight also reported that this same building had failed a Building's Department inspection.
Here's the latest on this scam, according to info from the Spotlight's "Warehouse Mouse."
Recently, a NYCHA work crew was treated to an indoor snowfall compliments of Finkel's Friends. A large portion of the ceiling, in a floor scheduled to be used as office space, came falling down. Luckily, nobody was hurt. But the falling ceiling was a small concern, according to those intimately involved in the day to day renovation of this once condemned building. Gravity is the feared monster that wears at the thoughts of those who understand the danger Fink has put into the future of many of NYCHA's employees.
For example, the floors in the building are rated to hold 200 pounds per square foot. Thus far, two consulting firms have been involved in studying these floors, to see what the building can safely contain. But you'll probably only hear about one of the firms, as the Fink didn't like what he was hearing from the first firm. So, the second firm was told about the earlier dissatisfaction, so they may slant their report in order to keep political biggies like the Fink and Ruben Schron happy. (As the "Mouse" pointed out, this is akin to your Doctor telling you that you need an operation for $10,000. When you say you can't pay that much, the doctor could offer to just touch up the X-rays for $500.)
Steve Raleigh is in charge of getting the warehouse operational. We're told that Steve is responsible for dismantling the local storeroom operation that was so effective in the NYCHA of old, and replacing it with the current nightmare. (The Board of education is now working on a local storeroom system, just like the one Steve razed.)
Anyway, Steve is having long lines of racks placed on those floors that are intended to store NYCHA's warehouse materials. Steve claims that the racks will be confined to holding no more than 1,500 pounds (3/4 Ton) per rack. Steve calculates that the ¾ Ton, spread over each rack, will NOT exceed the bearing capacity of the weak floors in the building.
Of course, for this plan to work every box placed on each rack will need to be weighed, and a running tally of every box added or subtracted from each rack must be scrupulously maintained.
I can see it now. "Hey Ralph, I got a box here weighs 62 ½ pounds. What rack can take that weight?" Ralph answers "Rack 1250, over in the center of the floor should be able to hold another 112 pounds. Put it there!" Moments later "Ralph, Rack 1250 fell through the floor and somebody is screaming down below. Better tell Raleigh that I leaned on a shelf while stacking that last box, and the floor gave way!"
Anybody want to lay odds on this portion of Steve's fiasco working?
And there's more.
If as is the case in most warehouses, efficiency demands the use of forklifts, we're in a world of hurt! An empty forklift is a heavy piece of machinery. 5 ton would be a conservative figure for a decent forklift. If each tire covers a square foot, the empty machine is already WAY over our safe load figure. Instead of 200 pounds per square foot, the EMPTY forklift is already placing 2500 pounds on a square foot under its tires. Even if shoring is spread under the forklift to spread the weight under the width and length of the forklift, you'd still have over 1,000 pounds per square foot. This is nothing less that an avoidable accident just waiting to happen!
are you comfortable with this?
© 1999 Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
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