When last we left you, in issue 82, a member of Local 375 (DC-37) wrote the following:
"I do wish you much luck. I'll be one of those standing near City Hall park, lending a small bit of support. But while the (municipal) unions remain in the same hands who threw out our ballots and gave us 2 years of no raises to please the Mayor, it isn't safe to be blowing no whistles in the hope of getting rid of corruption at City agencies."
Since then, many of you have written chastising us for not responding to that letter and thereby ending issue 81 on such a "downer."
But not one of you said "that can't be true."
Well, the simple truth is that the author of that letter had a very good point, and everyone who works at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) realizes that.
During this Editor's time at NYCHA's Contract Administration Department (CAD), the employees would often talk of retaliation, and they weren't only worried about their individual supervisors. They speak of things like how, when problems arise that might require reporting irregularities to the IG's office, the Director would pointedly mention that his bother was a "big-shot at the IRS." And they wouldn't just be frightened by such anecdotal gossip. They'd see how a Secretary would be fired shortly after visiting the IG. Or how when a Director found fault with a Deputy Director, that Director would force underlings to lie in an attempt to get at the Deputy Director.
But even worse then these horrors, they'd be told by the Director that the union would NOT help the employee . . . in some cases, the union would actually help in dishing out the harassment.
And that brings us back to the employee's letter.
He has a point, and his municipal union, Local 375 has NOT agreed to back any employees that come forward at the City Council Hearing, although we spoke with the twice on the phone, faxed a letter requesting their support and sent a Certified letter to them. (Click Here)
Meanwhile, other unions have responded positively, and that's encouraging. (When speaking of the rally and Labor's need to lead NYCHA in the right direction for both the employees and the tenants, the knowledge and unvarnished enthusiasm expressed by Ron Caputo of DC-9 was refreshing.)
Now to our heroes
(As there will be NYCHA employees testifying who are not yet known to us, this is only a partial list.)
A member of Local 237, George Contoveros, will be part of the Spotlight contingent. George will be explaining some of NYCHA's methods of retaliation to the Council.
Mr. Contoveros will also relate how a complaint made to NYCHA's IG was quickly transmitted to Borough Management.
David Jacobs of Local 3 Electricians (Click Here) will tell of the sloppy, un-inspected electrical work done by some of the fly by night contractors that somehow pass as "responsible contractors" in NYCHA's view. Much of this sloppy work is done on a NYCHA C for P (Certificate for Purchase). This allows Project management to bypass the normal contracting procedures and gives them the authority to sign contracts that are for less than $1,000.
(When/If we get an investigation, it will be shown that many a job for much more than $1,000 has been contracted by manipulating C for P's!)
Mr. Jacobs will tell of how NYCHA's own electricians wind up redoing much of this sloppy, un-inspected contracting work, thereby taking a double hit at the taxpayers. Also, when NYCHA electricians are busy fixing contract work, tenants suffer as their work orders are not promptly carried out.
Edward Donahue (Click Here) is a recently retired Inspector at CAD, who had worked as both a Mechanical Inspector and as an Inspector for 504 work (handicapped access.) Mr. Donahue will confirm that NYCHA contract Inspectors are NOT told to check either Section 3 or Prevailing Wage violations..
(NYCHA will lamely claim that such checks are done back in Central Office. But, if you press further, they will be forced to admit that the Central Office checks of Prevailing Wage is based on the contractor's own documents. If the contractor signs off on a document saying he followed Prevailing Wage and Section 3, the contractor has just passed that inspection!)
Mr. Donahue will also tell of being pressured to sign large Change Orders for favored contractors, even when he complained that the work being charged and paid as "extra work" was actually work that had been covered by the original contract. In these cases, that means the contractor was paid once for the work through the original contract, but then received an "Extra" payment for the exact same work.
As far as Spotty is concerned, these are true NYCHA heroes. And two of them belong or belonged to unions that refused to publicly commit to protecting their members who came forward.
So yes, while we agree with the problems pointed out by the member who wrote the letter, we believe that more and more NYCHA employees are coming forward. Many have come forward through Spotty, as the documents we use to verify the stories in the past 82 issues prove. And the vast majority of people who have sent in the stories we've published have committed to coming forward again, whenever a truly impartial investigation is begun.
And some of those agreed to this without ever expecting any backing from DC-37 locals.
We received a NYCHA Design Department
"Confidential" Guideline for Liquidated Damages.
According to this document, which we'll have available for viewing on the Spotlight web site, small contractors may have a very legitimate gripe.
The list advises that when a contract is for $1,000, the contractor should be charged $100 a day for each day the contract runs late.
A contractor who is performing a $2,000,000 contract, and is a day late, gets hit for $800 a day.
That's a 10% hit for the small guy, while the contractor on the $2,000,000 job takes only a four tenths of one percent penalty for the delay???
© 2001 Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
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