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Public Housing Spotlight

Issue 71
Published on December 21, 2000

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

(Click Here for Directory of Issues)

Why won't they work

NYCHA is having trouble retaining and recruiting managerial talent. Imagine that! Furthermore, NYCHA has had this problem since, at least, 1993. Luckily, NYCHA's Board was right on top of this. They decided that even though they have hundreds of people in their in-house Personnel Department, along with thousands of other talented staffers who have titles and educational credits that could be useful in digging into the problem, they hired an outside consultant to do the deed. (We all know how cozy NYCHA's management and high-priced consultants have been.) The consultant's report was submitted in 1994. NYCHA lost it!

Now they're hiring another consultant
to write another report???

Don't take our word for it. Read the story by Daily News reporter Frankie edozien in the Monday, December 18, 2000 Daily News.

Of course, this type of bungling on the part of NYCHA's management is not surprising. It's actually amusing in that a story about how NYCHA can't attract and keep decent Executives contains a hint at the reason for such a problem. When a talented prospective candidate for a NYCHA Executive position hears that the Authority can't even track down the report on how to attract people like him/her, it bodes poorly on how NYCHA handles other matters of import.

So now NYCHA is hiring another consultant to try and find why it can't maintain and recruit people of talent.

Save the taxpayers $, just read the Spotlight. Read of the corruption that persists, while a politically corrupt DOI runs Public Relations for City Hall. Part of the problem may be the inept manner that political hacks are given executive positions way beyond their limits, and let loose on thousands of dedicated managers and employees who actually know their jobs and weren't hired based on how well they kissed-up at some political fund raiser. Pretend you are an above-average talent who sees how a Joanna Aniello gets promoted in some reverse equation to the amount of scandal she generates and the amount of damage she leaves behind at her past positions. (The Paint scandal, the NYCHA vehicles as shopping transport scandal, the disappeared Termination folders, etc.) We'll go so far as to say that if, God forbid, prospective new managers were allowed to speak with randomly selected employees prior to signing on, there would be no more hiring's of new managers. They'd send resumes elsewhere.

Does NYCHA need new blood? Absolutely!

Some of the deadwood occupying chairs at the NYCHA Board Meetings have been so benumbed by the Authority's failed policies and inept top Executives that they become obsessive in controlling minutia instead of focusing their thoughts on ways to improve a flagging behemoth of public housing.

Let's give an example of what happens to NYCHA managers after a few years.

David Birney, Director of the Design Department, appears to fit the "Burned out and looking for help" category. The Design Department is chock-full of Architects and Engineers who put together the plans for NYCHA construction and Modernization contracts. In theory, those contracts work like this:

1) Development Manager proposes a new "item" (playground, ramps for access by disabled, new boilers etc.) for that Development.

2) NYCHA's Board votes on the proposal.

3) If approved, the Design Dept. begins surveying and blueprint drawing in preparation of soliciting bids from outside contractors. (Or NYCHA contracts with an outside consultant to handle this.)

In a memo dated February 17, 2000, Mr. Birney proudly announces the birth of his conceptual baby, the "Pre-design Procedure." This monstrosity is a 6 page flow-chart design of the steps NYCHA wants taken "Pre-Design. (Click Here to view this chart which makes the "Pre-Design" process at NYCHA seem to be as simple as the preparations for the landing on D-Day of Normandy Beach!)

I think that a competent engineer might be scared out of applying for a NYCHA job after viewing this document and hearing how much time was allocated to its composition and approval process.

David Birney has too much time on his hands!

We mentioned that another reason that talent is hard to attract at NYCHA was corruption. The Long Island City warehouse is the Elephant of corruption at NYCHA, and we don't want it to be forgotten. As it enriched friends of Kalman Finkel's family (Ruben Schron and others), Kalman will do everything possible to try and hide the financial boondoggle behind a veil of necessity and usefulness. Unfortunately, that may mean compromising NYCHA employee's safety.

Someone in a position to know has written us about the safety issues in the Finkel/Schron Big Money Monument. Here's what we're told.

The warehouse is limited in function, as Con Ed will ONLY ALLOW HALF THE BUILDING TO HAVE POWER! The wiring in the building is so dangerous that an explosion is possible if the whole building were powered up. As NYCHA signed a 20 year lease for over $100,000,000 for this building that was bought by Schron et al for a little over $8,000,000 just weeks before NYCHA's signing, you would expect/hope/demand that the landlord get the electrical system up to code. But, this is NYCHA-land, a place where friends of board members never spend money, they collect it! So here, not only did NYCHA HUGELY overpay for it's lease. It only has half a warehouse to use!

The landlord(Schron) refuses to pay for the electrical fix. They want NYCHA (Finkel) to pay the tab for the electrical safety upgrade. Finkel can't afford any more scandal by spending even more $ that, in reality, enhances the value of the real estate NYCHA leases from Finkel's friends. So, we're at an impasse!

We're told that a NYCHA generator provides minimal power to keep some light burning, but that's all.

Now, in this already dangerous and poorly lit environment, NYCHA has decided to add more danger.

Stephen Raleigh, who is mentioned in Issue #3 as the contact between NYCHA and the Fire-Starter paint we once used in the stairhalls, is again involved in a controversy that could cause injuries and a possible loss of life. Steve began by systematically tearing apart a working material-handling system. In the typical NYCHA quest for having nothing but incompetent sycophants in positions below the manager, Steve tore into the then functioning NYCHA system. In time, he replaced key personnel with his lackeys, insuring that there would be nobody close behind him on his career ladder that might have the smarts to actually rise above Stevie. Of course, while helping to insure his power position, he forced incompetent superiors on the employees doing the actual work. This has led to a myriad of problems at the LIC warehouse, with the unsafe building itself not helping at all. A source who has spent time in the warehouse writes:

"Steve Raleigh needed to utilize every inch of the now very limited lighted space available in the deathtrap. So, he designed racks without any consideration for the safety of those tasked with shipping and stocking of the items. The rack units are all the way up to the ceiling, in violation of the Fire Dept. Code. Cherry picker units were purchased so that workers can be lifted 40 feet up to the top racks. But the buckets that a man stands in on these Cherry Pickers are open on on side. How many stock workers will be killed or injured falling from these machines is anybody's guess, but there will certainly be casualties. The rack units designed by Raleigh, are much too close together and are set up in long rows which won't allow access unless you travel all the way to the ends."

Does Frank New know what's going on?

Does Mr. Martinez know?

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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.

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policy information, visit our friends at the Gotham Gazette

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