City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pressured the Housing Authority to remove the black manager of a Bronx housing development and replace her with a “Spanish manager,” former and current NYCHA workers told the Daily News.
Officials were so eager to make the Speaker’s wish come true that they turned to the city Department of Investigation to help “find something” on the manager.
Mark-Viverito made her ethnic-specific demand during a July 30, 2015, emergency meeting with several NYCHA officials held in her Bronx office, one of the meeting’s participants told the Daily News.
One of NYCHA’s top executives, Senior Vice President for Operations Brian Clarke, participated in that meeting via speakerphone — and later pressured subordinates to address Mark-Viverito’s demand because of the “cultural sensitivity” of the development’s tenants.
The Speaker began the meeting by asking how NYCHA dealt with Spanish-speaking tenants at the Mill Brook Houses in Mott Haven, according to the participants.
Mark-Viverito then confronted Allison Williams, the black manager of Mill Brook who is not fluent in Spanish, according to Williams and her boss, Sibyl Colon, NYCHA’s then-director of Optimal Property Management Department.
Williams says she told Mark-Viverito that — per NYCHA policy — she would rely on a “language bank” of on-call translators when dealing with non-English-speaking tenants.
Colon and Williams say Mark-Viverito responded with anger.
“She started asking me: ‘What do you do when you have to deal with the Spanish residents?’ I don’t speak Spanish. I said I used the language bank. She said — in her words — ‘That's unacceptable.’ I just sat silent.”
Colon, who was also at the meeting, says Mark-Viverito turned to her and stated, “You’re not hearing me. I want a Spanish manager.”