October 27 - November 2, 2010
Assembly committee puts
N.Y.C.H.A. on hot seat
The State Assembly Housing Committee
organized a public hearing on Tuesday,
where they interrogated New York City
Housing Authority ofﬁcials concerning
questionable repair policies.
Members said they have received numer-
ous complaints from tenants about untend-
ed leaks, mold outbreaks and cracks in their
ceilings. Michael Kelly, general manager for
N.Y.C.H.A., said the Centralized Calling
Center, created in 2005, allows the author-
ity to systematically track and follow up on
But tenants often have to wait for months
until their walls or appliances are ﬁxed.
“Does that mean that I have to wait for
an appointment, if water is leaking in my
apartment or my toilet is overﬂowing?” said
Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn, who
led the discussion.
“Our goal is to respond to an emergency
within 24 hours,” Kelly replied.
Urgent requests, he added, must be
deemed life threatening, such as gas leaks
or ﬂoods. According to Kelly, N.Y.C.H.A.
sends a handyman to abate the emergency,
after which tenants must schedule a follow-
up appointment with a specialized trade
worker. If they don’t call back, their work
order is cancelled.
“Nobody more than N.Y.C.H.A. would
like to solve these maintenance repair
issues,” said Gloria Finkelman, the author-
ity’s deputy general manager for operations.
“But our maintenance worker may or may
not be able to ﬁx that leak.”
Several tenants citywide who came to
testify shared ﬁrst-hand accounts of poor
living conditions, including ones from
Smith Houses and Lillian Wald Houses,
both in the Lower East Side.
Nearly 35 percent of Smith Houses resi-
dents recently gave N.Y.C.H.A. an “F” for
timeliness on repairs.
Miscommunications are exacerbating
the repair problems, according to tenants
and elected ofﬁcials.
“So many residents come to me with ter-
rible repair problems – leaks, ﬂoods, holes –
and have no way to address their problems
because of their language barrier,” said
Smith Houses resident Chun Yin Chu, a
member of the tenant association.
Lillian Wald resident Shirley Burnett
can’t sleep in her own bedroom because
broken windows let in rainwater. The mois-
ture, she said, makes it difﬁcult to breathe
and has caused black mold to form on the
“I used to wake up coughing all the
time,” said Burnett. “The fact that these
problems are affecting our health is unac-
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver didn’t
attend the hearing, but did release a state-
“Residents of public housing are suf-
fering through unacceptable delays in get-
ting maintenance problems ﬁxed in their
apartments. The New York City Housing
Authority must streamline and improve its
process for ﬁling work orders and making
repairs so that tenants are not left with
half-ﬁxed plumbing or holes in their walls
for months on end,” stated Silver.
Silver, who supported a federal law
passed last year that will direct millions of
federal dollars to public housing, promised
to “continue to work with tenants to address
in the Atlantic
The C.B. 1 Waterfront Committee voted
that Trans Elect, Inc. forge ahead with plans to
build wind farms in the Atlantic.
Their resolution states, “Trans Elect Inc.’s
project to build wind farms off the east coast
has received positive attention, and it has
been estimated that the wind farms could
produce power equal to that of ﬁve nuclear
power plants without the problems of nucle-
ar waste and potential dangers.”
The Department of Energy predicts that
electricity demand will increase by 28 percent
by the year 2035. The renewable energy source
is especially pertinent because current energy
consumption principally relies on nonrenew-
able fossil fuels, including foreign oil.
Five community members and one public
member were in favor of the resolution, and
two community members abstained.
“I don’t feel comfortable supporting this
– it’s a little judgmental,” said committee
member Joseph Lerner. “To me, it’s a little
strong, because we haven’t had a full discus-
sion of the impact.”
Member Joel Kopel asked for scientiﬁc
evidence before voting on the resolution.
Bloomberg vows to restore
two-term mayoral limits
Michael Bloomberg, in his third term as
New York City’s mayor, announced this week
that he supports a two-term limit, which left
many people scratching their heads.
“I’m voting to restore it,” the billionaire
mayor told the Associated Press and other
news outlets on Monday.
City voters will weigh in on the issue once
more on November 2.
The mayor managed to convince the
City Council to extend mayoral term limits
because of the dire circumstances of the
economic downturn. He was re-elected in
2009, though many resented his move to
change city law.
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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER
Two permanent exhibits of great splendor
are opening this month in two Manhattan
museums, and though at ﬁrst they seem dis-
similar, there is much that connects them.
The National Museum of the American
Indian at One Bowling Green unveiled
“Inﬁnity of Nations” on October 23 — a
permanent installation of 700 objects from
the George Gustav Heye Center’s collection
of roughly 825,000 objects. The exhibit
includes Native American art work, cloth-
ing, ceremonial objects, utensils and more
from North, Central and South America,
much of it amassed by Heye (1874-1957)
between 1897 and his death.
The other exhibit is at the Morgan
Library and Museum, ﬁ nancier J.P. Morgan’s
“uptown” ofﬁce at 36th Street and Madison
Avenue. Pierpont Morgan, who was born
into a wealthy family in 1837, was the
quintessential capitalist of his time, grow-
ing ever richer as he shrewdly bankrolled
American railroads and industries. When he
wasn’t busy on Wall Street, Morgan turned
his attention to collecting art. In 1902, he
commissioned the ﬁrm of McKim, Mead
and White to build a marble villa to house
his large and growing holdings of books,
manuscripts, paintings, sculpture, and his-
torical and decorative objects of all kinds.
On October 30, the oldest rooms of this
villa — Morgan’s library, his ofﬁ ce, the ofﬁ ce
of his librarian Belle da Costa Greene and
the imposing entrance hall — will reopen to
the public after a $4.5 million restoration. It
marks the ﬁrst major interior refurbishment
since the villa was ﬁnished in 1906.
At the time that Morgan and Heye assem-
bled their collections, ﬁrst-rate art and arti-
facts were abundant and both men had an
abundance of money. The 16th amendment
to the U.S. Constitution wasn’t passed until
1913 — the year of Pierpont Morgan’s death
— making the income tax a permanent part
of the national tax system. When Morgan
died, he was worth $100 million, causing
John D. Rockefeller, who was a billionaire
(in 1913 dollars), to scoff of Morgan, “He
wasn’t even a rich man!” Both men however,
were rich enough.
Heye was born and raised in Murray Hill,
three blocks from Morgan’s home and his
subsequent library and ofﬁce and came from
Standard Oil money. His friends to whom he
turned when he decided to open a museum
to house his mammoth Native American col-
lection had made fortunes in copper, rubber
Two museums debut two
new permanent exhibits
Continued on page 14