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Public Housing Spotlight

Issue 53
Published on April 1, 2000

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

(Click Here for Directory of Issues)

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We Get Letters

This letter comes to us from a recent NYCHA retiree. According to others still with Skill Trades and some who work in Project maintenance, the writer hits the nail on the head with his report:

Hi Spotty,

Sprinkler systems in NYCHA require an annual inspection form to be sent to the fire department. The form indicates the type of maintenance performed and that the system is in proper working order. Each housing project or building that has fire suppression systems must have an employee that has a current Certificate of Fitness from the Fire Department. The employee is mandated to inspect the fire suppression systems on a regular basis. A logbook of inspections and repairs must be updated on a regular basis. Additionally each full-blown fire suppression system (not compactors or small zoned systems) requires testing and inspection by the NYC Fire Department. A licensed Master Plumber must do the set up for testing and make appointments with the Fire Department. These tests are performed every five years.

We at the HA used to voluntarily schedule the tests. Due to the Fire Department's overloaded schedule the notice for testing may never come, or it may come in the form of a violation. Since we (the old school) at the HA did not want violations or problems with FD or any other Agency we found a way to keep track of and schedule all mundane tests on all systems that required other governmental agency inspection and/or reporting. The HA used to do all mechanical, structural, elevator, electrical etc, etc, etc, maintenance and inspection on a timely basis.

That was in the days when the HA had trade qualified Section Supervisors. Plumbing, Electrical and Riggers were all licensed people that started in the HA as helpers or mechanics and took exams for promotion to a foremen's title.

I will bet you a dollar to a box of donuts that HA does not inspect its fire suppression systems any more. I will bet that HA does not have employees at the project that are qualified to inspect and maintain fire suppression systems. I will also bet that if the employees had certificates of competence they have not been renewed. I do know personally that on 4 occasions Vandalia Houses had the sprinkler systems off, without notifying the Fire Department.

JoAnna Aniello gets promoted. Jim Drinane and Bobby Podmore get promoted. Now I hear even Nora Reesig-Lazzaro has been promoted!

Let's try to analyze this.

Joanna runs the Paint Dept. when the stair halls turn into furnaces due to the paint that was purchased from a politically connected guy. Deaths occur due to the paint . . . Joanna gets promoted. Joanna runs Operations when the fire at Vandalia Houses causes deaths while the sprinkler system is inoperative . . . Joanna gets promoted.

I'm told that Tenant Termination forms are often concerned with Victims of Domestic Abuse, and that holding back those forms can actually put lives in danger.

So, the pattern gets clearer. Drinane is Nora's boss when all those files are "stored" in boxes for months next to a copy machine, and don't get processed . . . Drinane gets promoted. Nora is directly responsible for the neglected files, the morale in Nora's shop is lower than the thief that keeps stealing her people's personal items . . . Nora moves up.

If this pattern holds, when Finkel's Folly (the $100,000,000 Long Island City warehouse owned by Ruben Schron and other Friends of the Fink) begins to fall apart, Finkel will get a big promotion. Or, does it only count if someone gets hurt or dies?

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I was anticipating some heated debate on Issue 50, where I addressed what I saw as the Mayor and Police Commissioner's lack of compassion following the Dorismond shooting. I made the decision to publish that issue on my own, and didn't seek any help from the usual staff of NYCHA people who help keep Spotty fed. But I was pleasantly surprised to find my fears were, for the most part, groundless.

I did get just two complaints. One NYCHA person I respect wrote that he/she was disappointed that I was "too easy" on the police and those in authority. I understand that person's point, but in this instance we'll agree to disagree.

The other complaint was from a NYCHA executive whom I also know. But he thought his email was anonymous as he sent it from a "free" email account, and I allowed him to believe he had that shield of anonymity although I really knew exactly who he was. Incredibly, we had met a few times before and I had once heard him tell an extremely racist joke. Since beginning the Spotlight, I had received email telling me that he was constantly telling these types of jokes, even when there were people of color in the group. (To be fair to them please remember that those people worked under him. We all know what happens when you complain of racial or sexual harassment in NYCHA.)

Once I confirmed to him that I didn't know who he was, that supposed anonymity allowed him to drop any pretense of racial harmony.

You see this guy thinks it's great when Spotty dresses down the NYCHA Gods for promoting Joanna, or when we shine our light on other NYCHA BS that directly effects him.

Yet, when recent events are upsetting the majority of our tenants, he balks at our speaking of race. His initial note ended with: " . . the spotlight is now being used for matters that it was not originally conceived for and you are bringing the rag down. Capiche?"

Now, it's not that unusual for a NYCHA exec to like this rag, so that wasn't too surprising. But "bringing the rag down. Capiche?" did not sit well. I told him so, and under the heading of FYI (For Your Information) I sent him a copy of the Jim Dwyer column in the March 21, 2000 Daily News. In it, Mr. Dwyer asks the other fraternal organizations (Irish, Italian, Hispanic etc) to also stand up against the demonizing of victims becoming more common these days.

This unenlightened NYCHA Exec's answer is quoted in the graphic above. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Now, I had intended to print his name in this issue. But I fear that, in NYCHA-land, somehow that would wind up getting him promoted, while anyone who works under him and has a skin shade darker than new snow would wind up being demoted.

However, if he thinks any of what I'm writing is untrue, I'll gladly print every email that went between us, along with his identity. That's his call.

(Why would a bigot want to work for the largest Public Housing Agency? Seems like a masochistic maneuver.)

In issue 52, we stated:

"Two weeks ago, Records Storage was officially moved from Bush Terminal to L.I.C. Or was it? A funny thing happened on the way to L.I.C. All the records disappeared into thin air!"

That info was incorrect.

We've received a call from someone in the chain that controls those records explaining the situation. The records were indeed scheduled to go to the LIC Warehouse two weeks ago. And they never arrived. However, we are now told that a NYCHA computer foul-up has caused the move to be delayed. Computers were scheduled to be ready in time for the move, but something went wrong.

So, for now, the records are still at Bush Terminal. When computer access is available at the warehouse, they will then be moved.

Of course, this warehouse is still sinking and it is quickly becoming a poorly designed concrete houseboat.

Maybe that's why the scheduled moves of the materials from Kent Ave. Warehouse and the Bush Terminal's Tools--Appliances--Uniforms over to this sinking ship have just been changed from April 15 to July!

Let's hope this portends a possible end
to this crazy warehouse deal!

© MM 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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