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SSHA Weller 6212012

SSHA Weller 6212012

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SARATOGASPRINGSHOUSINGAUTHORITY
OneSouthFederalStreetSaratogaSprings,NY12866
Telephone:(518)584-6600Fax:(518)583-3006
June21,2012Hon.ScottT.Johnson,MayorMicheleMadigan,CommissionerofFinanceChristianMathiesen,CommissionerofPublicSafetyJohnP.Franck,CommissionerofAccountsAnthonyScirocco,CommissionerofPublicWorksCityofSaratogaSprings474Broadway,CityHallSaratogaSprings,NewYork12866RE:SaratogaSpringsHousingAuthorityDearMayorJohnsonandCommissionersMadigan,Mathiesen,FranckandScirocco:AsthenewlyelectedChairmanoftheBoardofDirectors("theBoard")oftheSaratogaSpringsHousingAuthority("SSHA"or"theAgency")IwouldliketotakethisopportunityonbehalfoftheBoardandAgencytoprovideclarificationoftheBoard'spositionwithrespecttosomerecentcommentsandcriticismoftheSSHA,itsBoard,anditsChiefOperatingOfficer,MrSpychalski.Therehasbeenagreatdealofpublicdiscussioninrecentmonthsoftheactions,orallegedinaction,oftheBoardandtheAgency,muchofitfueledbyamedia'feedingfrenzy'whichconvenientlysidesteppedthefirstprincipleofresponsiblejournalism:todiscoverthefactsbeforepublishingorairinginflammatoryaccusations.Thisletterwill,Itrust,gosomewaytowardprovidingyou,themediaandthepublicwiththesalientfacts.TheBoardstronglybelievesthatitisinitsown,theAgency'sandtheCity'sbestintereststopreserveanopenlineofcommunicationwiththeCityinordertopromotepositiveandproductivediscussioninthefuture,andhasnoproblemwiththerequestthatweregularlyprovideinformationaboutouroperations,ourpoliciesandourplansfortheorderlyadministrationofFederalPublicHousingintheCityofSaratogaSprings.ButfirstitisimperativethattheCouncilhaveanaccurateaccountingofsomerelevantfacts.Ishalladdressthemostseriousoftheissuesthathavesurfacedoverthecourseofthelastsixmonthsasfollows:1)SSHA'sresponsetothediscoveryofbedbugsatStonequistApartments;2)Thecontract,salaryandcompensationfortheExecutiveDirector;3)SSHA'sPerformanceRatingbytheFederalDepartmentofHousingandUrbanDevelopment;4)TenantLeases;5)TherelationshipbetweenSSHAandtheAffordableHousingGroup-bothformalandfinancial;andfinally,6)Whatmaybefairly
ExecutiveDirector:EdwardSpychalskiLegalCounsel:JohnHicks/ScottPetersonBoardofCommissioners:
Eric
Weller-
ChairmanSisterCharlaComminsLillianMiles·KenIvinsJohannaDushlek-CoChairman,ResidentCommissionerOlivineWescott-ResidentCommissionerAlbert
Callucci
 
SARATOGASPRINGSHOUSINGAUTHORITY
OneSouthFederalStreetSaratogaSprings,NY12866
Telephone:
(518)584-6600Fax:(518)583-3006
concludedatthispointregardingtheresponsibilityof'duediligence'thattheBoardofDirectorsbearsfortheconductoftheoperationsoftheSSHA
J
say"atthispoint"because,althoughIwasaskedtorespondtotheCouncil's"ComplianceandCommunicationPlan"byMay31,theletterfromCommissionerMadiganconveyingtherequestandthecontentsoftheplanwasonIyreceivedatourofficesaftertheconclusionofourregularMayBoardmeeting,andwearealsoallawarethatTheNewYorkStateComptroller'sOfficecontinuestoconductafullauditoftheSSHA,anauditrequestedbyMayorJohnsonandwelcomedbytheBoard.TheBoardthereforesubmits,respectfully,thatnofinalconclusionscanbedrawn,norsubstantivediscussionsrelatingtotheSSHA'sfinancialorpersonnelpracticesbeintelligentlypursued;untilcompletionoftheauditandthepublicreleaseofitscontents.1)
BEDBUGSAND
BEYOND:
IborrowthetitleofaNAHROconferenceheldinJanuary,2012,andattendedbythenChairman,DennisBrunelle,andExecutiveDirector,EdSpychalski,tounderscorethefactthatthiswasthefirstappearanceofthisissueatamajornationalmeetingofCommissioners,ExecutiveDirectorsandstaffofPublicHousingAuthoritiesinrecenthistory.Toputthisinperspective,thefirstconfirmedreportofbedbugsattheStonequistapartmentsoccurredonSeptember4,2011,whenaninfestedmattresswasdiscardednearthegarbageareaandwasremovedanddisposedofbyMr.Spychalskihimself.Ninedayslater,onSeptember13,Mr.Spychalskiandhisstaffledaneducationalsessionfortheresidentsonhowtodetectandtreattheseunwelcomevisitorsandtendayslatermadeindustrialgradesteamcleanersavailabletoresidentswhowereabletooperatethemafterappropriateinstruction(givenataspecialmeetingofresidentscalledforthatpurpose).Thosephysicallyunabletousethemachineswereinformedthatstaffwouldinspectandcleantheirunits.FromSeptember4toDecember7threeunitswerediscoveredtohaveactivebedbugsthatweretheneradicatedthroughuseof
the
steamers.Atthispoint,whilewehadsporadicreportsofbedbugswhichweredealtwithimmediately,therewasnoevidenceofamajorinfestation,OnDecember9,afteranadditionalunitwasfoundtobeinfestedandwasimmediatelytreated,40residentswhoseunitswereclosetoothersthathadseeninfestations-howeverminor-werecalledtoaskiftheyhadbedbugproblems.Threeofthefortysaidtheydid.OnDecember14,aninspectionoftheentirebuildingwithalicensedexterminatorconfirmed9unitswithevidenceofbedbugsandthoseunitswereimmediatelytreated.OnDecember19,plasticmattressandbox-springcovers,climbercupstopreventre-infestationofupholsteredfurnitureandbeds,anddiatomaceousearth(anon-toxicandveryeffectivekillingagent)weremadeavailabletoresidents
atcost,
witharrangementsforpayment
overtimemadeavailabletothosewhocouldn'taffordtoabsorbthisexpenseallatonce,
ExecutiveDirector:EdwardSpychalskiLegalCounsel:johnHicks/ScottPetersonBoardofccmmlsslcners:
EricWeller-ChairmanSisterCharlaComminsLillianMilesKenIvinsJohannaDushlek-CoChairman,ResidentCommissionerOlivineWescott-ResidentCommissionerAlbertCallucci
 
SARATOGASPRINGSHOUSINGAUTHORITY
OneSouthFederalStreetSaratogaSprings,NY12866Telephone:
(518)584-6600
Fax:(518)
583-3006
ByJanuary17,2012,SSHAmaintenancestaffhadtreated48unitsincludingallthosewhohadreportedbedbugs.Atotalofnineoftheseshowedevidenceofactivebedbugs.ButbytheendofJanuary,thenumberofunitswithevidenceofbedbugswasapproachingthe10%level-
a
levelwhich,wehadpreviouslyagreed,wasthelimitwecouldtoleratewithouttakingmoredrasticaction-
a
levelatwhichitalsobecame.impossibletofurtherburdenourmaintenancestafftodealwithontopoftheirregularworkloads.Atthispointthedeclslonwasmadetohireaprofessionalexterminator.TheentirebuildingwastreatedonFebruary
14
anddeclared'clean',afulltwoweeksbeforeHUDfinallyreleaseditsguidelinesfordealingwiththeproblem,guidelineswehadbeenaskingforduringtheprevioussixmonths.Contrarytothose
who
upbraidedusfornotdealingwiththis"majorinfestation"more.promptlyandefficiently,allowmetocitethe'experts'inthisfield:CalebFabry,representativeoftheexterminationcompanyweultimatelyhired,stateduponcompletionofwork:"...infestationwasnotextreme.Themajorityofunitshadverylowinfestation.Mostresidentsneverknewtheyhadbedbugs.
Thestepstaken
by
thehousingauthoritysuccessfullykepttheinsectsincheck."
(FromastoryinTheSaratogianof2/16/12-emphasisadded.).FinalExterminationReport:Lowleve1.(atrace;deadbugs)
35
unitsModerate(noticeable)
5
unitsModerate(requirestreatment}2units(AscitedinTheGazetteon
3/18/2012.)
"TheSaratogaSpringsHousingAuthoritydidthebesttheycouldhavedonewiththeknowledgewehadavailableatthetime.ThemeasurestakeninitiallybytheSSHAwereeffectiveandappropriatetothelevelofseverityoftheproblem.Today,theproblemhasbeenresolvedsuccessfully."(CornellUniversityEntomologist,May3,2012.)"...theunitswereappropriatelytreated."(Dr.Okosky,HealthInspector,asquotedinSpotlightNews,2/02/2012)InthedaysimmediatelyfollowingtheStonequistresident'sappearanceattheCityCouncilmeetingonDecember7,wereceivedmorethan
35
proposalsfromvariousexterminatingfirmstobombtheentirebuildingwithpesticidesatcostsrangingfrom$25,000to$120,000.Sothen,whydidn'twedosoimmediately?Whilewehadno
.ExecutiveDirector:EdwardspychalskiLegalCounsel:JohnHicks/ScottPetersonBoardofCommissioners:EricWeHer-ChairmanSisterCharlaComminsLillianMiles.KenIvinsJohannaDushlek-CoChairman,ResidentCommissionerOlivineWescott-ResidentCommissionerAlbertCallucci

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