Thursday, February 14, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust?



By Father Richard F. Gorman
Community Board #12 (The Bronx)

BRONX, NEW YORK, February 14- Amidst all of the bad news as of late concerning the passing of the great, three-term, one hundred fifth Mayor of the City of New York, Edward Irving Koch; the wrath of an epic snowstorm and the dire conditions that remained in its wake; and this morning’s news from the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to become the first Pope to resign from office in nearly six (6) centuries, it is somewhat understandable that perhaps a bit of very important good news would appear to have gone unnoticed and by the boards.  Overlooked and disregarded as it might have been, though, this information was as profound in its effect as its announcement was greeted with enthusiasm.  In a decisive action that rapped the knuckles of the Bloomberg Administration and encouraged the residents of Community Board #12 (The Bronx), the Comptroller of the City of New York, The Honorable John C. Liu, announced on Thursday morning, 7 February 2013 that his office was rejecting a contract in the amount of some ninety-one million dollars ($91,000,000.00) to operate a homeless shelter for two (200) hundred men in the now shuttered SARGEANT JOSEPH E. MULLER UNITED STATES ARMY RESERVE CENTER (M.U.S.A.R.C.) located at 555 East 238TH Street/Nereid Avenue in Bronx Community District #12.  The homeless facility was slated to be operated by THE DOE FUND, INCORPORATED, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization headquartered in Manhattan, whose Founder and President, Mr. George A. McDonald, is a candidate in the upcoming Republican Primary for Mayor.

In refusing to certify the contract between the New York City Department of Homeless Services (N.Y.C.D.H.S.) and Mr. McDonald’s outfit, Comptroller Liu cited as his rationale for so acting the failure of the City of New York to adhere to the process delineated in Federal Law governing the transfer of closing United States military bases to local jurisdictions for projects designed to assist homeless persons.  In other words, the Comptroller was upholding and agreeing with the longstanding assertion of The Honorable Ruben Diaz, Jr., Borough President of The Bronx, that no properly and legitimately convoked meeting of the Local Redevelopment Authority (L.R.A.), the body constituted and empowered by Federal legislation to determine the future use of decommissioned bases, ever took place.  Borough President Diaz, along with Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Mr. Tokumbo Shobowale, the Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, comprised the L.R.A., whose meetings required a quorum of all three (3) aforesaid members in order to meet and to take action.  The Bloomberg Administration’s two (2) L.R.A. appointees maintained that a duly-constituted meeting did take place at which it was voted to turn the Muller Center over to THE DOE FUND.  Borough President Diaz vehemently denied this, having specifically stated that any gathering with Deputy Mayor Gibbs and Mr. Shobowale was informal in nature only and solely for the purpose of airing differences on the disposition of the M.U.S.A.R.C. Indeed, no agenda was formulated for this gathering and no minutes were either recorded or printed.  Moreover, it was months after the three (3) public officials unofficially met off the record that the Bloomberg folks curiously and abruptly came up with the claim that a bona fide meeting and decision had taken place.  Comptroller Liu’s investigation of this matter failed to produce any solid evidence to support the City’s contention.

Community Board #12 (The Bronx) and its Wakefield neighborhood specifically have been threatened in the past year with a homeless colony consisting of four (4) facilities in close proximity to each other.  If all four (4) facilities were to be opened, Wakefield would be burdened with several hundred homeless individuals, many of whom are afflicted with alcohol and chemical dependencies and/or mental health issues.  Fortunately, a few months ago, after negotiation with Community Board #12, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond announced that he would not open a shelter on White Plains Road at East 240TH Street in an apartment complex constructed and owned by developer Mark Stagg and his STAGG GROUP.  Comptroller Liu’s action, taken at the behest and in support of the Borough President of The Bronx, holds open the prospect, even if at least temporarily, that only two (2) facilities housing the homeless will be opened in Wakefield.  The Comptroller’s refusal to certify the contract with THE DOE FUND can, and will most probably, be brought by Mayor Bloomberg and his Corporation Counsel to court, where Mr. Liu’s can either be upheld in his determination or ordered by the Judiciary to certify the contract.  Let us hope that the Judge who hears the case is as forthright as our Borough President in standing for the truth and as courageous as Comptroller Liu in standing up to the Bloomberg Administration for its perfidious and fraudulent manner of undertaking what is supposed to be the PEOPLE’S business.

Our accolades and appreciation go wholeheartedly to Messrs. Diaz and Liu for coming together as an effective and valiant tag-team for the hard-working, honest taxpayers of Community Board #12 (The Bronx).  If legal action is to be initiated at this juncture, perhaps it should be to uncover whether or not any Federal statutes were violated by the knowingly bogus and patently counterfeit claims made by officials of the Bloomberg Administration in order to secure possession of the Muller Center for the City of New York in breach of a process required by Federal law.  Such would be a much more pertinent and apropos recourse to the courts on this topic.  Perhaps prior to leaving office at the conclusion of this year, Mayor Bloomberg and friends need to learn that not telling the truth is not only disreputable and dishonest, but also unlawful and illegal.

Until next time, that is it for this time!

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