Under Cover, Week of Nov. 5, 2015

Raise your hand for fraud
Fraud, whistleblowing — these are normally delicate subjects organizations rarely discuss in public.

But at the Battery Park City Authority’s most recent public board meeting, an outside auditor had to ask whether or not, you know, there’s any fraud anybody wanted to report.

The auditor, who was probably required by law to ask the awkward question, hemmed and hawed so much that Dennis Mehiel, the authority’s chairman, had to translate her delicate words into more direct language.

For the record, no one raised their hand.

But the auditor wasn’t finished: “Are you aware of any whistleblower events in the past year?”

Mehiel punted this one over to president Shari Hyman.

“There is the open lawsuit, but no official whistleblower,” she said.

In fact, the New York Post reported in September that a former authority vice president, Kirk Swanson, has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was fired for trying to stop fraud in the awarding of authority contracts.

Construction P.S.T.D.
To say that Lower Manhattan has been inundated with construction projects is an understatement. In Tribeca alone, long-term ripping up of streets, like Hudson and Chambers Sts., has led to a certain weariness and wariness of new projects.

So, when the five-year, $90-million reconstruction of Worth St. from Hudson St. to Park Row was announced in February, the community board tried to get ahead of it and formed a citizen advisory committee to negotiate with the city about quality-of-life issues, such as the hours and days work can be done.

“Last week, we were side-swiped,” committee member Bruce Ehrmann told the board on Oct. 27.

Hours that had been proposed at earlier meetings — Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — were now seven days a week, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.

Anger over years of relentless jackhammers shone through in the board’s resolution in response, which needed to be toned down from the committee’s intial wording, nixing terms such as “contemptuous” and “bungling.”

Garbage au jus
It’s not the type of juice that Downtowners overpay for at fancy shops.

No, “garbage juice” is the greasy liquid that leaks out of trash bags set out in front of restaurants and bars.

Not only can the oily substance actually eat away at asphalt, but rats can survive for days just from licking the stuff off the sidewalk.

Those two disturbing facts were brought to you by Vincent Fang, the legislative director for Councilmember Margaret Chin. Chin and a slew of other council reps are trying to pass a bill that would require eateries and drinkeries to hose off their sidewalks after their trash is collected or be fined.

The Dept. of Sanitation has already raised concerns, like what if the water freezes during winter months. Cryogenically frozen garbage juice would be a Downtowner’s nightmare, and may become rats’ favorite flavor of ice-cream. Fang said they are working with the department for a solution.

Community Board 1, sick of the Downtown rat infestation, voted to support the bill.

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