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Public Housing Spotlight

Issue 62
Published on August 8, 2000

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

(Click Here for Directory of Issues)

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(NYCHA's Upper Management!)

Who knows, with an
election around the corner,
the Council may actually start caring
about doing their job?

Back in April of 1999, Spotty began asking for an investigations into the way NYCHA mishandles the fire suppression systems. From contract awarding to daily maintenance, NYCHA has placed the safety of both the residents and our firemen in jeopardy. And ,Mr. Vallone and company have been silent co-conspirators in NYCHA's problems.

Indeed, until Mr. Vallone began grabbing air time with this story at the end of last week, the council had become quite expert at ignoring any of the problems at NYCHA that appeared in out little rag. If they had been doing their job, NYCHA's sprinklers and standpipes would have been operating.

The Spotlight began commenting on NYCHA's faulty Sprinkler/Standpipe operations early in 1999. Issues 15, 19, 22, 33, 38, 41 and 56.

From Issue 15 February 23, 1999

Add to your thoughts/prayers, the fireman killed in the Vandalia Houses fire. Because you should remember that the inspection records for that sprinkler system had somehow "disappeared" from NYCHA's safekeeping. (Again, read the Corruption Issue if you want to learn about how NYCHA loses records!)

From Issue 56, on May 23, 2000

In case of fire, the Firemen are supposed to just open the valve on the floor where the fire is located and use the hose attached to the standpipe to put out the fire.

But, that's only in theory. In actual NYCHA practice, chances are they'll not have a working standpipe system to use.

The valve handles, valve caps and the hose ends are all made of brass, which makes them salable as scrap metal. To help stop any thievery, NYCHA has removed most, if not all, valve handles and valve caps. Even the hoses have been removed by NYCHA in most all of the development's stair halls. According to the field plumbers, just about all of the main control valves in every Project have been chained in the open position.

NYCHA is lacking in the number of plumbers (as it is severely short of almost all of the other skilled trades) needed to perform all the maintenance and safety checks required to conform to the various safety recommendations where these standpipe systems are concerned."

That explains why the finger-pointing after the Vandalia Houses fire never seemed to find anyone of note as being responsible. If NYCHA can't even maintain a simple sprinkler system anywhere in the 5 boroughs, blame is sure going to be hard to localize. And if, due to the 5 borough mess, blame must be placed at someone who has NYCHA-wide authority (i.e.: an Exec), then blame will never ever be placed.


City Council begins long journey to daylight,
after more than a year of hibernation!

We are NOT an impartial newsletter.
We ARE an advocate for NYCHA's employees and tenants.
As such, we DO have an agenda.
Simply put, we advocate an investigation
into the laundry list of illegalities
that are listed in various issues
of the Public Housing Spotlight.
So, we ARE biased.

With that out of the way, here's our current/constant
gripe with the nation's "Largest Public Housing Agency!"

After seeing the lack of official investigative reaction to those 3 firemen who gave their lives at Vandalia Houses, I became even more disillusioned regarding our inept and somnolent City Council. Then when I read the July 31, 200 Newsday and saw "Fire trapped a Brooklyn family and two firefighters in an apartment during a dramatic rescue yesterday while firefighters outside struggled to open a standpipe that had been painted shut.", I was again furious that the lives of tenants and fireman mean so little to the same men and women who will once again be in full pandering mode as the upcoming election nears.

If it were that the Spotlight wasn't read, or believed, by the Council members, it would be easier to just label them lazy and forget them. But that's not what is happening. Council members have called and complimented us on this newsletter. Some have suggested that they'd call for hearings, but that powers above them would rain down such retribution that our "friendly" council member would soon be gone.

And there are those who think they are sooo cute that they can play games with both sides of the issue, and that their smarts will preclude them being caught. For example, one Council Member has called, complimented and sought info from Spotty. Within days, we found that the Member had threatened NYCHA powers-that-be that the Member would go public with the info and call for public hearings, unless certain "favors" the Member wanted from NYCHA were delivered. (We weren't meant to find that out. Guess I just lost that member's promise of "future support." Unfortunately, as that member sought anonymity at the beginning of our phone conversations, I won't use her/his name here. That way, at least the Spotlight retains the distinction of being the only party involved in this mess that can claim consistency when it comes to telling the truth and maintaining promises.)

And that wasn't the only member to use Spotty related threats to "get" something out of NYCHA.

Back on December 20, 1999, in Issue 38, we mentioned "endorsements". We honestly hoped it wouldn't come to that. But, with the absence of substantial change since the first issue of Spotty endorsements are another tool that may help foster change. And the only fair way that I see is by targeting only "new" candidates for office. If someone has "re-elect" in front of their name, they have either been part of the problem or they've been asleep at the switch. And, if they are jumping from one public paycheck to another, they also garner a non-endorsement. There will be some exceptions. Assembly Member Joan Millman (Assembly District 52, Brooklyn) and Assembly Member Edward C. Sullivan (District 69, Manhattan) come to mind as two who tried to get NYCHA looked into. If any of you live in their districts, please remember them in future elections.

Congressman John Sweeney would be another friend of Spotty, but his district is way out of our area.

Peter Vallone and Archie Spigner (runs the Housing and Buildings sub-comittee), on the other hand, are way to laid back about the fraud, bid-rigging, corruption and lack of competent upper management at the New York City housing Authority to ever get a single vote from anyone of the 600,000 residents or 10,000+ employees of NYCHA!

If you have new candidates for local office in your area, whatever their political party, please tell us about them. And ask them, if they got elected, would they help get an investigation launched into NYCHA. Get fax and phone numbers off the prospective candidates, and we'll get all of the Spotlight issues over to them. We'll also try and get them some volunteers.

We're not delusional. With 32,000+ Hits a month to our website, we aren't a big player in the game these people run. And NYCHA has bullied many employees to the point that many fear any overt show of dissatisfaction, as it could lead to firing. But a small amount of dedicated people can work miracles in politics. So, we'll try!

It's time to do something NOW. Or God only knows what future Housing Authority disaster will so shock Mr. Vallone in the future that he'll again be forced to fight it by calling another press conference!

And one final point. Should you know the families or lawyers involved in any case involving NYCHA's standpipes or sprinklers, give them our number (718-745-0170) and ask them to leave a message. We'll get back to them and help them by suggesting who at NYCHA they should call as witnesses, what questions they may want to ask and what paperwork they'd probably want to subpoena. Then, I guarantee changes will be made!

© 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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