Sunday, December 15, 2019

Lack of Accountability Leads to Massive Waste of Public Money Going To ThriveNYC

The corruption of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray just keeps everyone busy, reading all about it.

The waste of money detailed in the latest article posted below cannot be an accident. However, the Mayor does not seems to have any accountability in his office, and/or no one is saying anything.

We just cant wait until someone, somewhere, does something about it,  but there is good news on the horizon, hopefully: a whistleblower of the Special Commissioner of Investigations made a complaint.

See also:
The Non-Thriving ThriveNYC Run By Chirlane McCray is a Scam

Maybe now there will be accountability.

Can a city Mayor be impeached?

 Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

ThriveNYC’s school ‘consultants’ are a $10M waste of time, say teachers
 by Susan Edelman, NY POST, December 15, 2019

A ThriveNYC program costing up to $10.5 million a year uses school “consultants” who deliberately avoid helping students in crisis and serve as glorified “311 operators,” educators and critics say.
The consultants put on workshops and compile lists of outside services, but don’t work directly with kids in distress.
“It’s a Band-Aid on a huge wound,” the principal of a Brooklyn alternative high school told The Post. “It’s an absolute waste of money.”
The principal said her school struggles daily with students suffering from family turmoil, drug abuse and violence, but gets little or no support from the “School Mental Health Consulting Program,” which was launched in 2016 as part of the $850 million ThriveNYC initiative led by Mayor de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray.
When a student’s mother was shot to death, the principal turned to her school’s “consultant,” a Department of Education employee, to comfort the traumatized teen.
“Is it possible you can step in and help?” the principal asked the employee.
“We’re not allowed to give any direct services,” the consultant replied, according to the principal.
Each consultant makes $58,381 to $79,694 a year, and their supervisors $69,000 to $95,611.
Councilman Mark Treyger, education committee chairman, told The Post: “They were getting exorbitant salaries for doing the work that 311 operators already do — referrals.”
Instead of offering sorely needed direct services such as counseling, the consultants plan and give workshops on topics such as recognizing signs of mental illness and suicide-prevention tips.
“All they really do now is sit with the principals and create a plan to come and do a workshop for staff, students or parents,” the principal said.
The workshops are okay, but superficial, she added. “We’re so beyond naming the issues. The problem is getting the resources and support for dealing with the issues.”
The consultants also compile lists of local hospitals and agencies that provide counseling and treatment, but leave it up to the school or students to get them, the principal said.
“They were supposed to be building partnerships with agencies to serve our schools, but that never happened. We didn’t partner with anybody.”
The program was “set up as a light touch,” Scott Bloom, the DOE’s director of mental health, explained in a memo to staff.
“It was never designed to be a student-centered service nor a first responder for crisis situations,” Bloom wrote, adding the program is “best utilized as a secondary responder — after the school’s support team or DOE Crisis Teams respond to the situation and have the situation under control.”
Bloom called it “post-vention.”
The ThriveNYC program, a collaboration between the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the DOE’s Office of School Health, started in FY 2016 with 100 consultants and 11 supervisors for 950 schools.
That’s down this year to 73 consultants and eight supervisors. They now cover 820 schools. Some consultants were “moved out of schools where DOE has introduced other services,” officials said.
Officials did not list which of the city’s 1,800 schools get the consultants, saying they go to those without staff dedicated to mental health — about half of them elementary schools.
“It’s clearly not helping students in crisis, or helping school staff respond to and prevent further crises,” said Dawn Yuster, school justice director with the non-profit Advocates for Children. “That’s what we’re hearing from school staff.”
The DOE’s crisis teams are ill-staffed and often fail to promptly respond to students in meltdowns, Yuster said.
That leaves many school administrators no choice but to call 911 for an ambulance to haul the student to a hospital ER, or for cops to forcibly remove the child.
In 2016-17, schools called the NYPD for 2,702 incidents of “students in emotional distress” — half aged 4 to 12, an Advocates for Children analysis found. In 330 cases, cops clamped handcuffs on kids, some as young as 5.
And the problem has worsened. In 2018-19, the NYPD intervened in 3,547 incidents of kids in distress, the latest data show.
“We get calls all the time from schools at a loss for what to do,” Yuster said. “Students end up getting removed from class, missing work, punished or sent home.”
Several DOE insiders said the ThriveNYC funds could be better spent giving intense support to kids in districts or schools who need it most.
“It’s a question of targeting the resources instead of just increasing the budget for a jobs program and throwing money at the problem,” said Stephen Eide, a social-policy expert at the Manhattan Institute think tank.
D.J. Jaffe, an expert on mental-illness policy, agreed the program has little impact.
“Educating people about mental health is not the same as delivering services to the ill,” he said. “We need more services. We don’t need referrals to services that are already maxed out.”
McCray should know. In 2015, before launching ThriveNYC, she penned an op-ed describing the difficulty she faced in finding help for daughter, Chiara, then 18, who revealed she was suffering from anxiety, depression and addiction.
The family eventually found the right doctors and therapists for Chiara, leading to her recovery, McCray wrote, but she realized the mental health system is broken — “especially for those who don’t have the same advantages as us.”
In response to pressure by Councilman Treyger and  Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the city’s FY20 budget now includes $10.9 million in new funding for a School Crisis Responder program with 85 social workers. 
ThriveNYC spokesman Joshua Goodman said the DOE is beefing up services for troubled youth.
“Today, there are new mental health clinics and clinicians in hundreds of schools, new teams of social workers who respond to crises, and expanded training for teachers on how to address the mental health needs of their students,” he said.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mitchell-Lama Housing Trasparency Bill Passes in NYC Council

Transparency in City Housing is always a good thing.
About Mitchell-Lama
Mitchell-Lama Program

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials


November 14, 2019



 NEW YORK: Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams today passed legislation that would provide transparency to the Mitchell-Lama Housing program application waitlist. This reform measure comes after corruption was uncovered earlier this year in which bribes were allegedly accepted in exchange for altering placement on the potential resident wait list for the Luna Park Housing Corporation. The bill, Intro 716-A, is one of three sponsored by the Public Advocate which were passed by the City Council today.

"The housing lottery is a lifeline for many New Yorkers in search of the ever-decreasing and elusive affordable home, and the Mitchell-Lama program in particular has served as a vital component of New York City's affordable housing stock," said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. "Uncertainty and outright corruption regarding the process to access this housing is deeply damaging, and this bill is part of correcting that damage and instilling confidence in the system people obtain affordable housing in a city that desperately needs much more of it. This may be a lottery, but that doesn't have to mean 'you never know.'"

Intro. 716-A, which passed overwhelmingly at Thursday's City Council Stated Meeting, would enhance waitlist transparency by requiring reporting by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development on whether any application is skipped over or removed, disaggregated by development. Specifically, the annual report from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development would have to include information on the following:

The number of unique applicants on the waiting list on the last day of the previous calendar year,

The number of waiting list applicants who were not selected for occupancy in the last calendar year and people who were behind those applicants on the waitlist but were selected for occupancy ahead of them,

The number of applicants who are veterans and qualified for preferential selection in the Mitchell-Lama development in the last year,

The total number of complaints about the waiting list received within the last calendar year, including but not limited to complaints about the wait list process and preference shown to applicants.

The report will be posted on the agency website and submitted to the Mayor, Speaker of the Council, and Public Advocate, and the law will go into effect immediately. As former Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings and as a tenant advocate, the Public Advocate has long been engaged in the preservation of and oversight over Mitchell-Lama housing and other affordable housing programs.

"New Yorkers rely on the Mitchell-Lama program for stable, affordable housing," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-prime sponsor of the bill. "Mitchell-Lama housing is a lifeline for many New Yorkers, including a large number of my constituents. Unfortunately, the current process through which New Yorkers obtain Mitchell-Lama housing is opaque and riddled with inaccuracies. I am proud to co-sponsor legislation with Public Advocate Williams, and the bill's passage will instill sorely needed clarity, transparency, and accountability into our housing lottery process."

"The last thing New Yorkers in need of housing should be dealing with is corruption within the housing lottery system," said Council Member Ben Kallos, a cosponsor of the bill. "This legislation brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the process. Thank you to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for identifying an opportunity to improve the system and working to make it happen."

Council Member Farah N. Louis, a cosponsor of the bill, said, "Truly affordable housing cannot exist if we do not do our diligence in making these programs equitably accessible. In a rapidly changing housing climate, we must remain vigilant of affordability programs like Mitchell-Lama to ensure that they fulfill their intended purpose - providing quality, stable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. I am proud to co-sponsor a bill that brings us one step closer to a city that works for everyone."

In addition to the passage of Intro. 716-A, the Council also passed two other pieces of legislation sponsored by the Public Advocate, including Intro 720-C, related to construction safety, and Intro 1550-A, related to educational diversity. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

NYC Council Gives Bronx Councilman Andy King Stiff Penalties For Workplace Harassment and Retaliation

Andy King

‘Retaliation, a Culture of Fear’: Councilman Is Suspended for 30 Days

Credit...James Keivom for The New York Times


 Just what do you have to do to get kicked off the City Council?

Councilman Andy King, a Bronx Democrat, seems committed to finding out: A 48-page report issued by the City Council’s ethics committee offered a portrait of a politician on tilt.

Investigators found evidence that Mr. King violated New York City’s anti-harassment policy and used Council funds to plan a retreat in the Virgin Islands at the same time as the wedding of his wife’s daughter.

Mr. King not only refused to cooperate with the investigations into his conduct, but he also actively sought to thwart them by threatening and firing members of his staff who he believed were cooperating, the committee found.

By a 44-to-1 vote, the Council agreed on Monday to suspend Mr. King for 30 days without pay, fine him $15,000 and appoint a monitor to oversee his office for the remainder of his term. The penalties take effect immediately.

A motion to expel Mr. King for his actions was introduced by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a Queens Democrat, but was defeated by a vote of 34 to 12.

Mr. King sat quietly as his colleagues criticized his behavior, then delivered a rambling 15-minute monologue, explaining that he was unfairly being “crucified” by Council members as “the worst person on the planet” and an “oppressor” of his staff.

“Because people say things sometimes doesn’t necessarily make it true,” Mr. King said.

The only thing he was guilty of, Mr. King told reporters as he left City Hall after the vote, was being “too nice.”

The inquiry into Mr. King’s conduct is not the first ethics investigation he has faced. In 2018, Mr. King was ordered to undergo sensitivity and ethics training after a sexual harassment claim was lodged against him by a female staff member.

 Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, a good-government group, said Mr. King’s conduct should be examined by criminal authorities.

“I hope there would an independent investigation by criminal authorities to determine whether there was criminal activity or not,” Ms. Lerner said, adding that Mr. King’s conduct justified expulsion from the City Council.

“The Council does not believe he has the ability to behave appropriately, so to ask the taxpayers to pay for a babysitter is inappropriate,” Ms. Lerner continued. “If I as a taxpayer would pay for anything, it’s a new election.”

No one has been expelled from the City Council, which requires a two-thirds vote, since the 1989 City Charter revision. Mr. Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, have called for Mr. King to resign.

“How can you resign?” Pamela Hayes, Mr. King’s lawyer, said at a news conference on Saturday. “The charges are unjust.”

Mr. Johnson, who this year hired Carrie H. Cohen, a former federal prosecutor and assistant state attorney general, to serve as the Council’s special prosecutor, said that the ethics committee had referred its finding to the “appropriate” outside agencies. He declined to specify which ones.

Mr. King and Ms. Hayes had tried in court to seek a delay for the Council’s vote, but the request for a temporary restraining order was denied, according to Council staff members; they said that both sides were to return to court in December.

Mr. King is not the only Council member to face public discipline for actions during Mr. Johnson’s tenure. The most notable case involved Rubén Díaz Sr., a Bronx councilman who resisted calls to resign after making homophobic remarks. Others were disciplined for sexual harassment and for saying that “Palestine does not exist.”

Council approves fine, suspension and monitor for Andy King
By JOE ANUTA , POLITICO, 10/28/2019 06:05 PM EDT

The City Council voted Monday to level the most severe punishment in the body’s history against Bronx lawmaker Andy King, who was found by investigators to have misused Council resources and then retaliated against staff members who he thought were cooperating with the ensuing probe.

King’s colleagues voted 44 to 1 with two abstentions to suspend him for 30 days, install a monitor for the remainder of his term, fine him $15,000 and strip him of his committee assignments. In addition, staffers who were pressured by King to leave would be allowed to return to work, employees would not be required to chauffeur King around in their personal vehicles without compensation and King’s wife, 1199 SEIU employee Neva Shillingford-King, would be prohibited from conducting Council business.

King was the lone vote opposed to the resolution.

“As for Council Member King, I deplore his cowardice and disdain with which he treated his staff, the committee and this entire body," Council Speaker Corey Johnson said on the floor of the chambers. “This conduct merits sanctions of the magnitude that we can be sure will serve as a significant deterrent, while fully protecting the staff that that been through so much, and that allows for the swift detection of any bad behavior that might occur which could result in even harsher sanctions."

On the floor Monday and following the vote, King denied the allegations in the report and said that he was not given adequate time to prepare a defense, echoing statements he made over the weekend. The lawmaker has filed a lawsuit, and has referred to the inquiry as an execution, a lynching and a crucifixion.

“I am so bothered that I am being put in this situation, and acting like I’m some horrible individual," said King, who maintained that he treats staff with respect.

King urged his colleagues to vote against the measures. None of them did.

“I’m not being treated fairly. It’s not right what’s happening here. And I don’t want people making emotional decisions when due process has been violated," he said. "I’m asking you for your support as someone who was duly elected as you are."

Council members Inez Barron and I. Daneek Miller both abstained.

In the hours leading up to the vote, King’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in Manhattan state court alleging that his due process rights were violated when the Committee on Standards and Ethics and the special prosecutor Carrie Cohen did not give the lawmaker and his attorneys adequate time to mount a defense.

“Council Member King hasn’t had a chance to tell his side of the story. He hasn’t had a chance to answer the allegations,” his lawyer, Pamela Hayes, said Saturday at a press conference. “And you just have to give a person due process. That is what New York is about.”

However, Council Member Steven Matteo, chair of the committee, said Monday that King’s lawyers deliberately avoided coming in so they could argue later that his due process rights were denied.

"There are most definitely examples of due process being violated by individuals not being afforded a fair chance to defend themselves — this is unequivocally not one of those cases,” Matteo said. “Council Member King was afforded every opportunity to defend himself and present his side of the story, and squandered all of them.”

On Monday, a former staffer, whose harassment claims were substantiated by the City Council during King's first turn in front of the committee in 2017, called for King's expulsion in an opinion piece, something that Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer had said last week.

Van Bramer attempted to make good on his pledge by introducing a motion to expel King from the body during Monday's meeting of the full Council, sending the proceedings into a lengthy detour while the body voted. A handful of members joined Van Bramer, including several likely competitors in the Queens borough president race, but the motion was ultimately defeated.

The suite of punishments are set to take effect immediately. A monitor that will be funded by taxpayers for the remainder of King’s term is scheduled to arrive at his office Tuesday and will be in charge of all hiring and firing decisions, will have access to the office’s email accounts and attend staff meetings. None of those are to be held at King’s house — a reference to some of the charges contained in the committee’s 48-page report that was first obtained by POLITICO last week.

In it, the committee laid out a series of ethics violations that played out over a number of years. King’s wife, for example, was allowed to direct Council staff and make hiring and firing decisions, in several instances brought friends and colleagues from her union into the office. King and his wife also used Council resources to carry out and support a retreat in the Virgin Islands that promoted the union and included the wedding of Shillingford-King’s daughter.

King also allegedly allowed one of his staffers to physically intimidate others in the office. And during a June 2015 meeting, the report argues he compared a picture from the city’s Pride Parade to child pornography.

Once the committee began investigating King, the Council found that he retaliated against staffers, at one point keeping them at a meeting in his house until those who had been cooperating with the probe revealed themselves. Three members admitted talking to investigators. And in response, they allegedly suffered a series of retributions.

“It brought us to tears of what [King's staff] had to go through. Nobody should have to go through that. Nobody should have to get up in the morning and dread going to work because they were going to be ridiculed, punished, threatened, anything that could harm them,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz, who sits on the ethics committee.

“For the next two years and two months, Andy King will remember what he did," she later added.

With the vote behind them, the fate of King now lies with a Manhattan judge, who could decide to bring the process to a halt while determining the question of whether King was afforded a fair chance to respond.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

NYC Department of Education Will Not Move a Queens School, But Commits $16 Million

Then, after giving promises for the money, everyone forgot about Public School 9 in Maspeth. Official statement = "we gave at the office".

Thank goodness for the New York Post where the stink continues to fester, and this is a good thing.

In the piece published recently in the Post and re-posted below, Queens City Councilman Robert Holden said:

"If the chancellor believes pouring endless tax dollars into Willowbrook 2.0 is acceptable, and he can sleep at night, that’s on him.”
Remove politics from education!

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

File - A Queens special needs school under fire for deteriorating conditions will get a $16 million face lift — but no new location, schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said in a letter sent Friday to a local politician who is pushing for the move. (Byron Smith/for New York Daily News)

Education Department commits $16 million to embattled Queens school, but nixes move to new building

Carranza nixes shift of Qns. school for disabled

AUG 09, 2019
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza rejected moving a Queens school for the disabled (inset), which the Education Department says has already gotten plenty of money for fixes. (Byron Smith)

By Michael Elsen-Rooney New York Daily News

A Queens special needs school under fire for deteriorating conditions will get a $16 million face lift — but no new location, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said in a letter sent Friday to a local politician who is pushing for the move.

The fixes to Public School 9 in Maspeth, which houses 100 students with severe disabilities, include adding an elevator and redoing the cafeteria, come on top of $14 million the city had previously committed. But the letter eliminated any possibility of a move in the near future — something Queens City Councilman Robert Holden says is necessary because of the building’s inaccessibility and location in a fume-ridden industrial zone.

“I am proud of this building and its history,” PS 9 Principal Robert Wojnarowski said in a statement Friday. “We will continue to work hand-in-hand with the School Construction Authority, local elected officials, and members of the community so our students can continue to learn and grow here.”

But Holden ripped Carranza for refusing to make a move.

“It is clear that Chancellor Carranza cares little about the most vulnerable children in our system,” he said.

The fate of PS 9 is at the center of a sometimes heated public debate. Holden has pushed for almost a year for a move to a new site, and claimed city officials ignored deteriorating conditions.

Education Department officials countered that they’ve already invested $14 million into a still-ongoing exterior renovation along with smaller interior changes, and that agency representatives have assessed the building regularly.

Carranza personally visited the school Monday before deciding on final recommendations.

The bulk of the new investment will go toward making the building, which currently has no elevator and no wheelchair access, fully accessible. Officials said the changes, the biggest of which is building an elevator, will cost $7 to $10 million and take three to five years.

The basement —which holds the school’s gym and cafeteria — will get a $5 million renovation expected to be finished by September 2021.

Officials also committed to a deep clean of the building, new changing tables in bathrooms, and no chipping or peeling paint by the first day of school in September. Another $1 million will go toward a new music room, sensory room and computer room, the letter said.

The debate over the school has at times spilled over into the surrounding community, with some parents blasting the school’s conditions, while teachers have vocally defended the site and pointed to the potential disruption to students of a move.

Further complicating matters, the building where Holden has proposed relocating the school is also under consideration to house a homeless shelter, a move Holden has opposed.

The councilman said he won’t be satisfied until the students are relocated.

“If the chancellor believes pouring endless tax dollars into Willowbrook 2.0 is acceptable, and he can sleep at night, that’s on him.”

The Non-Thriving ThriveNYC Run By Chirlane McCray is a Scam

 Please tell us when the end of the McCray/de Blasio performance can be seen. We need to get rid of the corruption and fraud they are performing, with immunity, against a backdrop of poisoned children in NYCHA housing, bribes and other crimes against NYC taxpayers.

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Chirlane McCray

ThriveNYC is failing New Yorkers amid spike in NYPD shootings
, NY POST, October 22, 2019
Bill de Blasio and his conjugal co-mayor, Chirlane McCray, have conspired to blow almost a billion bucks on services for deranged New Yorkers, of which there are many, yet it seems things are getting crazier. Why is this?
The latest iteration of an all-too-familiar tale finds a street peddler with a long history of mental illness shot by police Friday after skulling a cop with a metal chair in a Brooklyn nail salon.
Saturday morning, the peddler was dead, the cop was in a medically induced coma and mutterings of police over-reaction were hanging in the air.
For once, such concerns are not unreasonable. Eleven civilians have been shot dead by officers in 2019, compared to four last year — and the obvious question is: Why such a sharp increase?
This question deserves a deliberate inquiry and an honest answer — which de Blasio is unlikely to provide, if only because the finger of blame points more squarely at City Hall than it does at One Police Plaza.
There are no easy answers, as always. Mental illness has been an intractable urban problem for going on to a half century; culture and case law have evolved to favor the mentally ill when they come into conflict with the community in all but the most extreme circumstances.
The irony is that all too often the mentally ill are their own victims — even as that’s regularly lost in horrendous collateral damage.
Nobody really disputes this, and virtually everybody says something should be done about it — even the mayor and his missus. That’s why Bill handed Chirlane the mental health portfolio on Day One — along with a virtually open-ended draw on the municipal fisc.
Thus was born ThriveNYC — a classic example of an ill-directed, over-funded, ego-infused fiasco made possible by the fact that nobody, ever, wants to say no to the boss.
Friday’s nail salon tragedy was among ThriveNYC’s more obvious failures — the dead peddler’s family said it had been trying to get him help for some time, only to be dismissed — but it is far from the only one.
The problem, writes urban mental illness expert DJ Jaffe, is the mayoral make-work project’s misallocated priorities.
“Only 12% [of Thrive’s near-billion-dollar budget has been] focused on adults with untreated serious mental illness,” says Jaffe. “As a result almost 40% of the most seriously mentally ill in New York City go untreated.”
In other words, there’s plenty of dough to address angst and ennui — but bi-polar Brooklyn peddlers, deranged subway pushers, babbling park-bench homesteaders and the man who crushed the skulls of four fellow vagrants are on their own.
As is the city.
There’s no doubt that public disorder is increasing in the city, never mind the official stats. And while not all of the city’s ever-more-numerous and increasingly belligerent street-dwellers and cop-fighters are mentally ill and untreated, enough of them are to mark ThriveNYC as just another de Blasio administration failure.
No surprise there.
Twitter: @rlmac2