Frustrated workers at the Department of Design and Construction raged at Mayor Bill de Blasio in a letter two years ago, accusing him of doing nothing after they warned him the agency's commissioner was hiring cronies, including the wife of a city councilman, DNAinfo New York has learned.
DDC Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora hired Christina Melendez, the wife of Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, as a special assistant to him with a $150,000-a-year salary in June 2014.
Two years earlier, when Pena-Mora faced removal as the dean at Columbia University's engineering school, Rodriguez came to his aid, leading a campaign to keep him in the job.
Melendez, who had previously worked in education, didn’t have a background in engineering or architecture, disciplines normally associated with the DDC. But the DDC position paid $48,000 more than her previous job as an assistant principal, according to city records.
Pena-Mora's hires of Melendez and others shortly after his appointment as commissioner in April 2014 have fueled patronage allegations by DDC employees over the past two years, according to sources.
Some staffers were so outraged that they wrote an anonymous letter to de Blasio complaining about the alleged patronage, the demotions of longtime personnel and Pena-Mora’s abrasive management style.