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Public Housing Spotlight

Issue 9
Published on October 10, 1998

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

(Click Here for Directory of Issues)

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on NYCHA's
Tenant Leaders!

We don't need to listen to
no stinkin' NYCHA Tenant Leaders!

Okay, I'm really just giving a personal impression about our Chair's most recent column, as he rants against those who might press complaints that Rantin' Franco would rather not hear. You can read the Chair's entire column in the latest NYCHA Journal, or go to NYCHA's page at: http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/pub-hous/nycha/home.html

Based on this reporter's quick read, Rantin' must be getting a lot of flack from a lot of places lately. Nothing else would seem to explain his using a column that is meant to edify the Authority's residents as a soapbox to tell off the leaders those residents have elected. On the other hand, this column gives us particular pleasure in that it shows where the Rantin' nickname comes from! Rantin' began the column by telling us how he was a Gypsy cab driver before he began ruining the New York City Housing Authority. He explains that he worked hard, and hated the rude, complaining "back seat drivers".
Here's a sampler from Rantin's writings.

Sample 1:

"Often, they were rude, or nasty. They seldom knew where they were going and complained constantly during the ride, without offering any helpful suggestions. On the other hand, some of the back-seat drivers I remember were very helpful. I was always grateful to this group. They knew where they were going. I Call Them 'Back-Seat Residents'."

(I guess we should be thankful
that Franco wasn't a bus driver!)

He writes that many of them were a hazard and offered no helpful solutions. Well, even if it might have been Rantin's famous arrogance, nastiness or lack of knowledge that was really behind those complaining "Back Seat Drivers", Rantin has a right to express his opinion. We are in America, after all.

(Of course, we'd hate to be the employee who expresses his or her own lawful opinion about the Finkel and Franco rape of NYC Public Housing. I believe we all know how tolerant Chair Rantin' would be about that freedom of expression!)

But, after Rantin' knocks those anonymous back seat folk from his early cab driver days, who really have no means to respond, he then blasts those duly elected Tenant Leaders who dare to ask questions Rantin' would rather not address.

Sample 2:

"Indeed, some of these people, I regret to say, are duly elected leaders of their Tenant Associations where, because of apathy, only a tiny fraction of the residents have voted. In their 'official' capacity, these 'leaders' believe that this gives them the right to mistreat, or scream at our employees, or at me, when we attend meetings."

(Spot Hint: Recently Ruben was in a heated discussion with a Tenant Association Leader. They BOTH wound up shouting, and, according to one who was there, the Macho Chair got verbally circumcised by Tenant Leader Barbara Barbara. Go get 'em, Barbara!)

Now, we don't know if Ruben realizes that the man who appointed him won his election with one of the lowest percentages of voter participation in history? If, as Rantin implies, a tenant leader elected by a less than 50% of the entire resident body is not worthy, does the fact that Mayor Rudy Giuliani was elected by much less than 50% of the eligible voters negate Ruben's appointment? Would Ruben then consider resigning? (IF ONLY!!!)

Ruben does throw in enough soothing platitudes to help keep other, maybe less aggressive, Tenant Leaders in the flock. Here's one.

Sample 3:

"Thankfully, this type of 'driver' is in the minority. There are many other residents and resident leaders who give helpful criticism and advice every day, they are the back-seat drivers we want to encourage."
(Spot Hint: Rantin's idea of helpful criticism is if he can get a Tenant Leader to say "I want to complain about that Spotlight revealing all the crooked dealing being done at 250 Broadway.")

Ruben writes of the "Good" complainers:

Sample 4:

"They do not assume that the person they are speaking with is uncaring."

Well, maybe that is the tenant leader who was elected with just his or her own family's votes. There are so many examples of uncaring neglect in this Agency over the past few years that, if we were to attempt to type them all in, we'd need Group Medical at the Spotlight to pay for all the Carpal Tunnel operations that would be needed.

Let's remember, when that $8,000,000 Long Island City building was leased by the Housing Authority for a MINIMUM of $103,000,000 over 20 years, that money is no longer available to be used in more productive ways to help meet our tenant's needs. As an example, just check out the shape of the Authority's Senior Centers. This is a case where NYCHA is "uncaring" to it's residents, while being "caring" for others.

As we reported in an earlier issue, Deputy Mayor Ninfa Segarra's needed to remove herself from doing her normal chores for the taxpayers recently, while she worked the phones gathering donations for hurricane victims. Sylvia Castenada-Director of the Office for the Aging, a Ninfa appointment, had also been manning the phones, ON Authority TIME, getting donations for the hurricane victims living on the islands. We believe doing charitable work for people ANYWHERE is an honorable task and we need more people that will help in a selfless fashion. However, we DON'T consider doing it while you have your hand in the taxpayer's pocket as a way to insure one's entrance into the Pearly Gates! If Sylvia spent less time kissing up to Ninfa, and a little more taking an active interest in her job, she might have a better chance of accumulating her bonus points for her Angel's wings.

(Please forgive us. With so many wrongs being part of the Housing Authority's operation as of late, we get into a scatter shot of scandal when we fail to hold back. Let's get back to the main story.)

We now pose a Public Housing Spotlight challenge to the Chair. (Hilly Gross has wimped on every challenge thus far. Let's see if the Ultra-macho Rantin' Is another Cowardly Bully.) The challenge is, name the Tenant Leaders and their poorly represented Developments. You have every right to your voice, and, according to your own column, your job "is one that requires me to lead NYCHA". As such, it appears that you would be doing a service to your residents by allowing them the benefit of your insight. That IS a requirement of leadership, last time we checked.

Seems like a win-win situation

© 1998 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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