When we left you in Issue 84, the Unions were wrapping up their presentations at the City Council Joint Committee Hearings. (The Contracts Committee, Chaired by Kathryn Freed and the Housing and Buildings Committee Chaired by Archie Spigner.) The Spotlight contingent was called next. But it is important to give a few background notes prior to getting into that testimony.
In issue 79, we wrote: "And for those employees who promise evidence of direct criminal activity, I'd hope that they would stay away until either the Council votes to hold a full and independent investigation, or a law enforcement agency gets involved."
We also appealed to the Council with: "Assuming that the Council truly wants to hear the NYCHA employees and would commence an investigation if the testimony were persuasive, I'm hoping the Council will make the same public commitment we're requesting of the unions. A statement that the City Council will also respond quickly to any apparent retaliation taken against NYCHA and/or City employees who come forward at Ms. Freed's request."
As we received only a single heartening response from a City Council Member, and he/she wasn't on either committee, you'd think that we might have caught a clue. But, no, we political neophytes still had hopes.
Despite advice to the contrary, 2 active NYCHA employees insisted on expressing their first amendment rights by giving honest and UNSCRIPTED testimony to the Committee members. (As we constantly mention, we've got quite a number of other NYCHA employees and execs that will testify to NYCHA corruption and mismanagement, whenever some independent investigation is begun. But as within 24 hours of the hearing one of the men who testified was already hearing of impending retaliation, we've asked many people to wait for that investigation before they risk their jobs by being used by politicians. Yet, we fielded a panel for this hearing, in the hope that things might be changing.)
So, with much trepidation, the 4 of us stood and began walking up to the microphones . . . and we were dumb struck. What had been a crowded stage only moments ago had suddenly become deserted.
Every single one of the 9 Members of Archie Spigner's Housing and Buildings Committee were absent for our testimony! And of the 9 Member's of Kathryn Freed's Contracts Committee, Ms. Freed was alone on the stage! (Click Here)
As Ms. Freed was emphatic about wanting to hear our testimony on NYCHA's corruption when she called to render the invitation, the only thing left to believe is that other Members of the Committees were not as interested in being confronted by a dose of reality on NYCHA's corruption and mismanagement, and then being left with the burden of trying to stem that corruption.
Being shunned by the Deputy Majority Leader AND Chair of Housings and Buildings was not entirely unexpected, as people in City government had told us that Mr. Spigner would probably absent himself during our presentation. (And 2 years ago, in May of 1999, Mr. Spigner had promised a hearing on NYCHA corruption while a week long report on NYCHA was being run in Noticias Del Mundo. It never happened!)
But we were stunned when Margarita Lopez, so adamant in her criticism of NYCHA for not supplying a job to a person she said she had personally recommended for a Section 3 job, wasn't much interested in NYCHA's stealing of the taxpayer's funds or the retaliation that hinders the obtaining of truthful testimony from NYCHA employees. That was a severe and unexpected disappointment.
As I had come to testify at a hearing on NYCHA corruption, and that was not on the agenda, I gave a brief statement on NYCHA's lack of enforcement of Section 3 and Prevailing Wage. Ms. Freed stated for the record that she'd be calling me soon to arrange for that testimony.
Next up was Edward Donahue (Click Here). Mr. Donahue explained how as a NYCHA Contract Inspector he was pressured to authorize Change Orders that he believed were part on the original contract. When Mr. Donahue told his superiors he wouldn't sign for these double payments for the contractor, he was transferred to a different borough. He explained that when a "favored contractor" had allowed a job to fall way behind schedule, or violated the contract in a substantial way, he recommended defaulting the contract. He was transferred to a different borough. He began to realize that if he kept doing his job "by the book"; he might as well double-park when reporting to work in the morning, as he would be constantly moving from Borough to Borough.
George Contoveros then testified. Mr. Contoveros works in NYCHA Maintenance. (Click Here to read Mr. Contoveros' testimony)
David Michael Jacobs followed. His testimony centered on his experience working as an electrician for NYCHA. (Click Here to read Mr. Jacobs' testimony)
© 2001 Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
Issue links are at page bottom
or click here for a Directory page with Issue overviews.
Click on the mailbox to send us your thoughts!
Or Message/Fax us with info at 718/745-0170