New York Times:
For more than 200 years, the department has been plagued by allegations ranging from the dastardly to the absurd. Plumbing inspectors have been charged with taking bribes. Consultants have set up get-aways for influential councilmen. A deputy commissioner was once indicted for accepting an illegal gift of wine.
As the agency responsible for overseeing the roughly $12 billion in annual private construction in the city, the Buildings Department is clearly echt New York — at least as echt as the Police Department or the Fire Department, which, of course, have both had troubles of their own. What seems to distinguish Buildings from the others, though, is not the severity or frequency of the problems, experts say, but its ostensible invulnerability to reform.
Agency With a History of Graft and Corruption
The general consensus seems to be that the departure of Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster today, while a welcome development in many corners, is hardly going to make a dent in the myriad of perceived problems at the beleaguered agency.
DOB Problems Just Begun
On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg said ""I don’t think anybody should be fully satisfied with the Department of Buildings’ performance." The statement was disingenuous at best and self-servingly cynical at worst. The construction boom and DOB's laissez faire attitude have happened under Mr. Bloomberg's watch and the placement of the agency under former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff's purview for most of his administration symbolized the back seat that regulating building took to encouraging development. The city's worst kept secret for much of the last six years has been the fact that DOB was expected not to interfere in major ways with development. If this meant looking the other way while safety, work hour and other regulations were violated with impunity, well, that was a small price for one of the biggest building booms in New York history.
GL Analysis: Patty Lancaster is Gone, Now What?
Lost New York:
That statement, the oft-quoted "I don’t think anybody should be fully satisfied with the Department of Buildings’ performance," was weasely, back-stabbing, scapegoating, political double-speak at its worst. It was bottom-of-the-barrel stuff and anyone who's a student of the political art would recognize it as such. You can bet as Lancaster watched Mayor Mike utter that line on television, she was muttering "son of a bitch" under her breath. Bloomberg was plenty satisfied the Lancaster and the DOB—it was doing exactly what he wanted it to do, with as little money as he chose to give it—until its corrupt performance began to impinge on his image as an infallible leader.
Lancaster, the Scapegoat
The Real Deal:
Robert LiMandri, the first deputy commissioner for operations at the city's Buildings Department will head the department on an interim basis now that commissioner Patricia Lancaster, has resigned.
LiMandri, an engineer, has worked at the department since 2002 and oversees its enforcement and forensic work. Bloomberg spokesperson Stu Loeser told The Real Deal that LiMandri will manage the department with the mayor's confidence.
LiMandri tapped as interim DOB head