Sunday, March 16, 2008

Newspapers criticize DOB response

by Linda Stasi, NY Post

KATHARINE HEPBURN must be turning in her grave.

Shoddy construction by greedy moneymen is destroying the whole Turtle Bay area around Second Avenue, filling the neighborhood she loved with countless world-class-ugly buildings.

What they've done to Second Avenue in the last few years is criminal. Yesterday, it turned deadly.

Second Avenue from East 53rd Street to Dag Hammarskjold Park came under invasion by these animals about five years ago with the cooperation of the city, and what seems like rampant incompetence. Are there no rules that apply? No aesthetics, no safety that won't be overlooked? Apparently not.

Contractor warned city about crane but was blown off
by Rich Shapiro
Daily News Staff Writer

A retired contractor warned the city 12 days ago the doomed crane on E. 51st St. wasn't properly braced, but the Buildings Department blew him off after making a cursory check.

"I think the Buildings Department is grossly negligent because they had been warned. They sent an inspector and they brushed it under the rug, so to speak," said Bruce Silberblatt, an 80-year-old former contractor.

"Now, I'm sitting here and, at last count, four people are dead and a couple buildings on 50th St. are completely wrecked. ... It looks like Baghdad over there."


On March 4, someone complained to the city by telephone that the crane that collapsed yesterday was not properly braced to the building.

"There are only tie backs on five or six floor[s], but upper part which is 100 feet up is unsecured," the caller said, according to the Department of Buildings Web site.

An inspector visited the site later that day and decided the problem didn't violate the rules. "No violation warranted for complaint at time of inspection," the inspector noted.

Crane tragedy is just latest in a string of disasters at construction sites

Once again the complaints poured in. Once again inspectors wrote up the violations. And once again there was death at a New York City construction site.

Since December, the city Buildings Department has received a stunning 32 complaints about site safety at the ill-fated 43-story tower under construction on E.51st St.

Since Jan. 17, the department has repeatedly visited the site, issuing 13 violations to contractors and owners. That's about one violation every five days.

On March 4, a retired engineer specifically warned the city that the "crane does not appear to be braced to the building" and that the upper part 100 feet up "is unsecured," records show.

An inspector found no violation, writing, "Crane is erected according to approved" plans.

On Friday, a city inspector making a scheduled inspection found no problem with the crane.

And yesterday, about an hour before the 2:20 p.m. crane collapse, a city building inspector was on site, answering yet another complaint about "hazardous conditions" at the job site, records show.

"Enough is enough," fumed Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. "We've closed restaurants that have fruit flies, but we don't close construction sites that have major safety violations. We have to revamp the construction protocols."

"We have failed this borough and the people of the city. It is unacceptable and it has to be stopped."

The Daily News - in stories and editorials - has documented the dark side of the dramatic 12% jump in high-rise development last year that has resulted in a staggering 83% spike in construction accidents.

Yesterday's accident brings to 16 the number of construction deaths in the past 12 months.

Photo from NY Post


Taxpayer said...

Is there an attorney reading this who can answer whether or not Bloomberg, Lancaster and DOB can be sued under the RICO act?

Lancaster was warned, brushed off the warning (after payment?), and 4 workers died.

Bloomberg is responsible for Lancaster. He's responsible for the rabid overdevelopment and negligence for profit. He and Lancaster, along with DOB inspectors are responsible for the deaths and devastation.

Who says that billionaire mayors cannot be corrupted?

Taxpayer said...

Bloomberg is so busy with seizing property through eminent domain for his development companies. He's busy welcoming illegal aliens and making NYC a sanctuary city.

He busy scheming for ways to forbid people to drive in precious Manhattan and raising taxes.

He's so busy spending vast sums of our money by installing the cancer-causing artificial turf in our parks and destroying any tree that grows (saves money on maintenance, ya know).

He's just too, too busy to spend his precious time working for the people who hired him, the ordinary citizens from the outer boroughs.

So, what's the matter if he's the cause of 16 deaths in building accidents. They were never rich anyway, so, who cares?

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is petty compliants being filed with the DOB. if you spend any time looking at the complaints on theit site you see that it is choked with silly complaints such as dust starting construction 15 mins early, inadequate housekeeping etc. All these must be investigated leaving little time to look at real problems like this.

Anonymous said...

"Bloomberg is responsible for Lancaster. He's responsible for the rabid overdevelopment and negligence for profit. He and Lancaster, along with DOB inspectors are responsible for the deaths and devastation."

Well said. This has to stop. Maybe now the DOB will act more responsibly.

verdi said...

"Great" job you're doing Commish Lancaster !

Where's the f----g improvement in the DOB
that you promised us all? !!!

What's that Pat....
I've got to go take it up with "The Wizzard"?

How do I get to Oz .....on the #6 train
and exit at City Hall?

But Mayor Midget already told us ,
"not to pay any attention
to that little man behind the curtain" !

I'm going back to Kansas....this city sucks!

Let's see....
I'll just click the heels of my ruby slippers twice.
"There's no place like home.....there's no place
like home" !

ken said...

the construction workers union must be worthless too. If they cared about their members they'd demand safer conditions at the sites.

Anonymous said...

A megalomaniac mayor can always be corrupted
by a constant need for even more power
(especially if your only 5' 7" tall) .

Bloomberg is just another little sidewalk Napoleon!

Anonymous said...

Maybe now that the problem we face in Queens
on a daily basis has encroached upon Turtle Bay
and is pushing towards Sutton Place.....
the powerful "swells" of those nabes
will demand the "improvement"
that Commissioner Lancaster promised us....

Anonymous said...

How many illegal aliens do you suppose
were working at this non union site?

We don't need Al Queda to destroy NYC.

We recruit our own terrorists from the
real estate/building industry !

And Bloomberg is Bin Laden !

kingofnycabbies said...

Bloomberg and Lancaster and the rest need to be called to account, NOW.

Our city cannot take even another day of their criminally negligent rule.

How many more have to die, Mr. Mayor?

Anonymous said...

There are three problems here and all share equally in this disaster.

1. The machine as decided to give our city over to the developers in exchange for campaign donations. This is fine if Mexican day laborors are killed in Queens, but now, people in the East Side are getting killed it is a problem. The body count has just started.

2. The city-wide preservation community is inept, small minded, living in the past, and most damningly, afraid to stand up because they think they will lose their few crumbs the city has thrown them. After being around for decades, the movement should be powerful enough to exercise some control over the developers and the city in this on going destrution of our communities. You cannot tell me that government in the country, with the right politcal pressure, cannot stop these these ugly, out of scale, steetscape destroying disasters.

3. Finally, the city's chatting classes and its news media has chosen to look the other way - a large segmet of the movers and shakers only spend a part of their time here, and have a vested interest in keeping the real estate market hot, as investors, ad takers in the press, or slum landlords.

Remember, once again, you saw it on Queens Crap first:


Anonymous said...

The body count has just started.


a) How many people from NYC have died in Iraq in the past five years?

b) How many people from NYC have died from construction projects in the past five years?

Unlike Iraq, we will never have an answer on (b) but I would wager its five times as many as (a).

Bloomberg's Fault said...

Once again the Dept of Buildings was warned that the crane was not secured. They sent over an inspector who was either deaf, dumb or blind, corrupt or incompetent.

In either case Mayor Bloomberg is responsible for not hiring enough qualified inspectors especially with a building boom that has gone largely unsupervised by the city.

Anonymous said...

What's it going to take to stop development with citations and violations in Queens if were lucky?

It's the tragedy of the folks who died as a result of the 2 Ave Crane accident. Halt all construction everywhere - investigate DOB practices and procedures - revamp and enforce laws on the books.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with Linda Stasi of the NY Post. I pose a question to Bloomberg: How is this any different from a TERRORIST ATTACK? In fact, it is terrorism of a local nature.

The ruthless developers continue to prey upon this city, and should take responsibility for killing workers, injuring citizens, and sucking the soul out of this city. These are crimes against humanity and culture, and MUST stop at once. Also, the hell with those who discriminate against the middle class! Affordable housing is a proven myth! The DOB is a lax agency, and Bloomberg quotes the violations as normal? Get a life! You all need psychotic treatment.

Anonymous said...

"Part of the problem is petty compliants being filed with the DOB. if you spend any time looking at the complaints on theit site you see that it is choked with silly complaints such as dust starting construction 15 mins early, inadequate housekeeping etc. All these must be investigated leaving little time to look at real problems like this"

Well, they need to learn to fucking prioritize, just I learnened in grade school. A report of an illegal basement is a problem and should be investigated, but should not be treated the same as a report of an unsafe crane hundreds of feet in the air.

I know of inspectors making 5+ visits to try to gain access to one supposedly illegal basement, yet this crane was only looked at twice. This is criminal negligence on the city's part.

Anonymous said...

Well, way to go DOB. Congrats to Pat Lancaster on an agency well run. You cut deals with developers so they can keep building, yet don't have inspectors competent enough to see a disaster waiting to happen.

Pat should be fired like yesterday.