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Public Housing Spotlight

Issue 57
Published on June 1, 2000

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

(Click Here for Directory of Issues)

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On Up!

The following is a compilation of a few email
we received in the last month.

As they all concerned
the same area of NYCHA,
pasting them into one email helps
conceal the writers' identities:

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Dear Spotty:

You may recall the issue where you listed all the folks who have left the dept since Nora Reissig-Lazzaro started her reign of terror. Well the list just keeps getting longer, and now you may add six more names to your list. Others in the department will be putting in for transfers by the time you read this. And, as Nora's infamy is whispered throughout NYCHA, a secondary problem is adding to the mess. Vacancies are getting harder to fill, because anyone with smarts will not transfer into that department.

Right now there is an Assistant Manager (A.M.) position is still unfilled because people turned it down! Jody Picciano-Swanson may have been politically appointed but she treated her staff with respect. She also appeared to care about the population NYCHA serves. It certainly helped that she was an experienced social worker. Rumor is that Nora was so afraid that someone would see what a good job Jody was doing, and then they would wonder why Nora couldn't get others to perform up to that standard. Of course, the fact that the staff is sick of being treated so miserably by Nora could have something to do with any performance issues.

We all have some advice for Mr. Lamount Goodwin as he becomes one of Nora's subordinates. You better run for your life! If you aren't used to being verbally abused at work, get ready now! If you think that you will be getting the necessary supervision and help to implement the program, you have come to the wrong PLACE! Nora doesn't have a clue what she is doing and she will abuse you and make you feel stupid when, in fact, she is the one who is clueless.

You heard the old saying that if you can't dazzle them with brilliance than baffle them with bullshit! Well, you are going to need hip boots and a huge shovel for this job.

To those of us who have spoken with you, you came across as a nice guy. That's a definite drawback while working under Nora.

First: The program has failed for years because of ineptitude and letting novice political appointees play boss, although they have no clue as to how we work or any insights about the population we serve. They have mishandled the funds and the purpose for which the government gave NYCHA the funds!

Second: Nora doesn't know what is going on in her own shop so how can she tell anyone how run a program as problematic as the Drug Elimination Program (DEP)!

How can anyone who hasn't any field experience with NYCHA do anything for the population of tenants? This is the blind leading the blind. How can you not have a plan of action for a new member of your staff! No guidance, no structure, no strategy? She is mean and impossible to work with or for. When she is stressed, she readily abuses those around her. She doesn't speak to them or acknowledge them, as would any professional.

Even those whom she "befriends" are eventually disabused of any notion that this woman can be trusted. For within a very short period of time they become ex-friends as she begins her normal pattern of verbal abuse.

Her favorite comment is "You're Incompetent!" She humiliates and tries to belittle staff members into submission. She bullshits higher-ups with her soft-spoken demeanor and a few buzz words about each Dept. If you ever tried to query her on the real functions of the units under her command, you'd soon learn that she knows nothing more than the functions of the Victims of Domestic Violence and Intimidated Witness (VDV/IW) units!

(Funny! Back when Spotty broke the Termination Unit story Joanna was asked "What was the problem with Nora's shop. Her answer, "NOTHING! She is just a strong manager!" Of course in the following issue Spotty printed the memo directing that the files be stuck into the Copy Room and NOT sent to Legal. That must have made Joanna a little uncomfortable with her quick defense of Nora.)

CUBICLE SPACE: As previously reported in your newsletter, the allocation of space at 90 Church is a JOKE! Whoever was in charge of spacing and cubicle distribution clearly was also the inspiration for the movie Dumb and Dumber! Low partition walls that provide absolutely no privacy! It's nearly impossible to conduct business on the phone, as you hear every word from every other unit. The area should and could be made larger It is ridiculous to have the cubicles jammed together like some mob run "boiler room", while there is so much wasted floor space.

For instance the Termination Unit is responsible for the largest production of work (the amount of work done adds up to hundreds of cases per month), yet they weren't provided with anything near adequate space?


(No, not hidden in the copy room,
as they were in the last scandal under Nora
. . . . at least not yet!)

But Nora's kiss-ups, Irwin Rodrigues and Pedro Pegan, were allotted a huge space. Of course they need it, as they drop by once every week or two. Sometimes they stay for as much as 1 or 2 hours. The rest of the time they are supposedly in the field, as their job is furniture distribution in the field.

But, even if their jobs are in the field, Nora gave then more floor space then the staff that actually performs their daily duties in the building! The same is true with the Aftercare Coordinator who was supplied with a HUGE space in our office?

Talk about stupid: They now have Nora interviewing people to find her own replacement! Yep! There is the Asst. Deputy Director position that she has just left, and they are allowing her to choose the person to fill it!

SOCIAL SERVICES will be turned
over to Nora on June 1!

Someone who has no field experience, no college degree in social work and no credentials for this area is going to be placed in charge of Social services!

Someone who treats her staff like crap and usually has them fleeing like roaches in that last frame of a RAID commercial will now be hiring her own replacement, while Nora is placed in charge of a larger unit. She'll run the Social Services Department for a population of over 600,000 NYCHA tenants, although she doesn't even have the credentials and/or the experience to fill the lowest position in that same office. (If they had received her resume in the mail, they would have forwarded it to a different department!)

Keep in mind that of those 600,000 people, most are near or just above the poverty level. There are a large percentage of single parent families. There are a disproportionate number of problems with drug addiction, alcoholism, spousal abuse and child abuse. And we have a large elderly demographic.

Yet, even though these problems are larger in NYCHA than in a "normal" city, NYCHA allows all sorts of political game playing to happen in the departments meant to address these problems. As it stands now, a degree in Social Service or similar disciplines means nothing.

Experience in handling these problems means nothing.

Politics rules in NYCHA, and "screw the damn tenants" is the theme song we hear.

At least that's the theme song until some scandal breaks and the press gets wind of it. And when it does, I hope NYCHA doesn't think that the staff members can be counted on to keep quiet. Because this time, reporters won't have to look far to find a source!

Forget raises. In the next contract we need more mental health benefits so we can all afford the extensive counseling those under Nora are going to need!

© 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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