Monday, March 10, 2014

Tree contractor ripping us off

From the NY Post:

A Brooklyn-based tree-planting company that rakes in millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contracts isn’t planting all of the trees it gets paid for and routinely charges the city for work that never gets done, whistleblowers told The Post.

J. Pizzirusso Landscaping is one of several contractors employed by the city Parks Department as part of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Million Trees project.

Since 2007, when Bloomberg and Bette Midler planted the first sapling in The Bronx, Pizzirusso has raked in $12 million worth of contracts from the city to plant trees, according to the Parks Department.

Five current and former Pizzirusso workers claim their employer is ripping the city off. Attorney James Versocki, a former prosecutor with the state attorney general, believes the problem is widespread and is now calling on the city to investigate its landscapers more generally.

Among the allegations:

  • Work crews would take credit for planting trees that were already there — attaching tags to fool inspectors so Pizzirusso would get paid without having to do work. “We put new [inspection] tags on old trees,” a worker for Pizzirusso said. “The reason for the tags was so [the inspectors] could see what year the tree was planted. We would refresh the soil and put down new mulch so the tree looked like it was planted not so long ago.” 
  • The company would claim it saw-cut into the sidewalk to plant a tree even if it didn’t — a move that allowed it to bill at a higher rate. “A lawn pit he’d [bill as] a new pit because we’d get paid more money for it,” said a whistleblower who helped prepare Pizzirusso billing records. 
  • Workers at Pizzirusso and elsewhere claim their bosses ordered them to vandalize dead trees so the city, not the contractor, would have to pick up the tab for their replacement. Dead trees are the contractor’s responsibility for two years after they are planted, but vandalized trees are the Parks Department’s problem. The total cost of planting a new tree is $1,450, the Parks Department says. Replacing a vandalized tree costs taxpayers $700.


Anonymous said...

good example of work being contracted out - it costs the city 3x more than paying a city worker for doing the same job!

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person that watched the Soprano's?

Get a grip - Italian-American contractors are notoriously dishonest! How about all the trees cut down around the perimeter of Bowne Park - they couldn't have all died the same year. Someone got a big, fat contract.

Who do we notify to investigate? Surely not the Bowne Park Civic (they don't use computers!) or Stinky Vallone (he probably has a piece of the contracting company.

Once again Tony Avella will have to do everything because the locals are either inept or asleep at the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Parks Dept has no idea what these contractors are doing.
They should have a system to monitor and track all of the trees being planted. No excuses!

Anonymous said...

Do we know if the company is employing union members? or illegals?

Anonymous said...

- it costs the city 3x more than paying a city worker for doing the same job!


Please. A city worker wouldnt even bother with faking the work. He just would do it, then tell them fuck off, he's in a union.

Anonymous said...

Most of what's been written is nonsense. All contractor work is supervised by a third-party. There's no way a contractor could fake work and then invoice the city. I suspect the above has been written either by a landscape competitor or a disgruntled former employee.

Anonymous said...

The contractors are always ripping off the city. They charge a ridiculous amount of money and then do a substandard job, or don't even complete the job at all.

Everyone bashes the city workers but if they would have been planting these trees, it would have been done the right way and for much less than these contractors charged.

Anonymous said...

There has already been one Parks Inspector indicted for accepting bribes from contractors how many more will be? A lot of these companies hired previous parks employees that help them get the contracts then participate in the corruption and steel from the tax payer.

J said...

the legacy of willful obliviousness continues for the funsize mayor.

this could have been nipped in the bud but the bogus consciences of bloom and his developer and celebrity pals had to come first.

if you go to various yet unappealing parts of the 5 boros,you will see thousands of trees stripped of its bark and leaning in menacing ways from the extreme weather conditions of the past 10 years.

and what is mayor zero vision's concern about this?

Anonymous said...

What a shame - This contractor is supposed to be paying these workers NY City Prevailing Wage witch equates to approximately $650 per day cost with taxes and all. I hope they are not cheating these workers that have been told to cheat and lie to the city. There is a reason why one contractor is 15% lower than the next bidder and material is not the issue.