Hurricane Sandy hit this city two years ago today. But for too many New
Yorkers, the effects of the storm are still an everyday reality.
When I took office, I found a stalled recovery program that, more than a
year after the storm, had yet to begin construction on a single home.
Since then, we've overhauled the Build It Back recovery program and made
incredible progress - and we'll continue to speed up relief until every
homeowner is served.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer. (photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
26 October 14
article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New
York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column,
"The Borowitz Report."
concerns that the spreading fear of Ebola has become a greater threat
than the virus itself, a new poll shows that a majority of Americans
favor a quarantine of the CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
While poll respondents supported quarantining more
than a dozen cable-news personalities, including the entire cast of “Fox
& Friends,” a full seventy-two per cent gave the nod to a
quarantine of Blitzer.
At the Centers for Disease Control, a spokesman said
that a Blitzer quarantine was “very much on the table,” and that the
C.D.C. had come up with a workable plan.
“Essentially, we would do a lockdown of ‘The Situation
Room’ and provide Wolf with food and water until the crisis passes,” he
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie caved and allowed a quarantined nurse
to leave a Newark hospital on Monday after she showed no signs of being
infected with Ebola.
Kaci Hickox had previously threatened to sue the state of New Jersey
after she was detained Friday following a policy enacted the same day by
both Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The White House had
also pressured Christie to free her.
Hickox was brought to the isolation unit at University Hospital, in
Newark, after landing last week at Newark Liberty International Airport.
The nurse was returning from Sierra Leone after volunteering to treat
Ebola patients in the poverty-stricken West African nation.
Both Christie and Cuomo put the mandatory quarantine policy in effect
after Columbia University Medical Center doctor Craig Spencer tested
positive for Ebola last week.
"Sine testing negative for Ebola on early Saturday morning, the patient
... has thankfully been symptom free for the last 24 hours," Christie's
office said in a statement.
"As a result, and after being evaluated in coordination with the CDC and
the treating clinicians at University Hospital, the patient is being
Hickox is still subject to a mandatory quarantine despite the state agreeing to transport her to Maine via a private carrier.
She had previously threatened to sue the state, claiming it was a violation of her civil rights to be held without cause.
"This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my
basic human rights have been violated," Hickox said Sunday on CNN. "To put me through this emotional and physical stress is completely unacceptable."
She compared the "inhumane" conditions to being "held in a prison," and
vowed to immediately file a federal lawsuit demanding her release.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Sunday evening press briefing that "what happened to her was inappropriate."
Further pressure mounted from the Obama administration, which also called for her release.
blinked and Hickox was freed as a five-year-old boy who landed at JFK
International Airport was being tested for Ebola in a New York hospital.
The child, who had just flown from Guinea, had a 103-degree fever and was projectile vomiting, according to reports.
Spencer has not significantly improved since being hospitalized on Friday.
On Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered soothing words to worried New
Yorkers about the city’s first Ebola case. Less than 19 hours later, Mr.
Cuomo struck a starkly different tone.
"Within the city, an unexpected policy shift by Mr. Cuomo on Friday
appeared to open up a public divide between the governor and the
administration of Mr. de Blasio, a fellow Democrat. The city’s health
commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, was not informed in advance of the
Cuomo-Christie mandatory quarantine order and was “furious,” a senior
city official who spoke to her said. "
black and I drive a nice car,” Mr. McFarlan told an administrative law
judge, Blueth Bromfield. He added: “You being a black woman, I don’t
know, maybe you and I have some understanding that young men who drive
nice cars are a little bit more detailed, or prioritized, or profiled.”
That argument did not sway Judge Bromfield who ruled that Mr. McFarlan’s defense was not convincing.
After wrestling for
days with the diplomatically awkward reality that Cuba could turn out to
be America’s best ally on the effort to stem the Ebola epidemic, the
Obama Administration has belatedly come around to a sensible conclusion:
It’s willing to coordinate with the Cuban medics dispatched to treat
patients in West Africa.
In a remarkably
conciliatory statement, the State Department said on Tuesday night that
it “welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Cuba,” which has
pledged to send hundreds of doctors and nurses to treat patients in the
three countries where the virus is spreading fastest.
“Cuba is making significant contributions by sending hundreds of health workers to Africa,” the State Department said.
The Ebola outbreak has presented the two nations with a rare opportunity
to work collaboratively on a high profile global issue at a time when
there is growing interest on the part of both governments for a
Former Cuban President
Fidel Castro called on the United States this weekend to set aside its
long term differences with Havana in order to make headway on the fight
against Ebola. Cuba recently dispatched 165 doctors and nurses to Sierra
Leone and a new group of 91 was set to travel to the region on Tuesday.
The government has trained more than 400 health care workers on the
precautions that must be taken to treat patients with Ebola.
The United States and
the European Union have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars
to build up the beleaguered health care infrastructure of Sierra Leone,
Liberia and Guinea. But the international community has struggled to
put together a medical corps willing to treat patients with the highly
The Times editorial
board on Monday called on the United States to coordinate with Cuban
medics and to offer them assistance in the event any contract the virus.
The State Department statement did not address whether American
personnel would be willing to treat or evacuate Cuban health workers.
American officials say they are still sorting out the broader issue of
how medical evacuations of all foreign health care workers will be
On October 11, 2014 the New York Times' editorial board published an opinion titled, "Obama Should End the Embargo on Cuba." - Fidel Castro in Cuba's State Sponsored Granma International responds. - MA/RSN
morning, on Sunday October 12, the Sunday internet edition of The New
York Times – a newspaper which under certain circumstances follows the
political line most convenient to its country’s interests – published an
article entitled “Obama should end the embargo on Cuba;” with opinions
as to how, in its view, the country should proceed.
There are times when such articles are written by some
prestigious journalist, such as someone I had the privilege of meeting
personally during the first days of our struggle in the Sierra Maestra
with the remainder of a unit which had been almost totally eliminated by
Batista’s air force and army. We were at that time quite inexperienced;
we didn’t even realize that giving the impression of strength to the
press would be something that could merit critique.
That is not what the brave war correspondent, Herbert
Matthews, thought with a story which made his name during the difficult
times of the fight against fascism.
Our supposed fighting ability in February 1957 was a
little less, but still more than sufficient to wear down and overthrow
Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, leader of the People’s
Socialist Party, was witness to what, after the Battle of Jigüe in which
an entire unit of select troops were forced to surrender after 10 days
of combat, I expressed regarding my fear that the regime’s forces would
surrender in July 1958, when the elite troops hastily retreated from the
Sierra Maestra, despite being trained and equipped by our northern
neighbors. We had discovered an effective way of defeating them.
I could not help but expand a little on this point as I
wished to explain the spirit with which I read the aforementioned
article of the U.S. newspaper, last Sunday. I will cite the most
important parts in quotations:
“Scanning a map of the world must give President Obama
a sinking feeling as he contemplates the dismal state of troubled
bilateral relationships his administration has sought to turn around. He
would be smart to take a hard look at Cuba, where a major policy shift
could yield a significant foreign policy success.
“For the first time in more than 50 years, shifting
politics in the United States and changing policies in Cuba make it
politically feasible to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and
dismantle the senseless embargo. The Castro regime has long blamed the
embargo for its shortcomings, and has kept ordinary Cubans largely cut
off from the world. Mr. Obama should seize this opportunity to end a
long era of enmity and help a population that has suffered enormously
since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961, two years after
Fidel Castro assumed power.
“…a devastated economy has forced Cuba to make reforms
— a process that has gained urgency with the economic crisis in
Venezuela, which gives Cuba heavily subsidized oil. Officials in Havana,
fearing that Venezuela could cut its aid, have taken significant steps
to liberalize and diversify the island’s tightly controlled economy.
“They have begun allowing citizens to take
private-sector jobs and own property. This spring, Cuba’s National
Assembly passed a law to encourage foreign investment in the country.
With Brazilian capital, Cuba is building a seaport, a major project that
will be economically viable only if American sanctions are lifted. And
in April, Cuban diplomats began negotiating a cooperation agreement with
the European Union. They have shown up at the initial meetings
prepared, eager and mindful that the Europeans will insist on greater
reforms and freedoms.
“The authoritarian government still harasses and
detains dissidents. It has yet to explain the suspicious circumstances
surrounding the death of the political activist Oswaldo Payá.”
As you can see a slanderous and cheep accusation.
“Travel restrictions were relaxed last year, enabling
prominent dissidents to travel abroad. There is slightly more tolerance
for criticism of the leadership, though many fear speaking openly and
demanding greater rights.
“The pace of reforms has been slow and there has been
backsliding. Still, these changes show Cuba is positioning itself for a
post-embargo era. The government has said it would welcome renewed
diplomatic relations with the United States and would not set
“As a first step, the Obama administration should
remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor
terrorist organizations, which includes Iran, Sudan and Syria. Cuba was
put on the list in 1982 for backing terrorist groups in Latin America,
which it no longer does. American officials recognize that Havana is
playing a constructive role in the conflict in Colombia by hosting peace
talks between the government and guerrilla leaders.
“Starting in 1961, Washington has imposed sanctions in
an effort to oust the Castro regime. Over the decades, it became clear
to many American policy makers that the embargo was an utter failure.
But any proposal to end the embargo angered Cuban-American voters, a
constituency that has had an outsize role in national elections (…)The
generation that adamantly supports the embargo is dying off. Younger
Cuban-Americans hold starkly different views, having come to see the
sanctions as more damaging than helpful. A recent poll found that a
slight majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami now oppose the embargo. A
significant majority of them favor restoring diplomatic ties, mirroring
the views of other Americans.
“Cuba and the United States already have diplomatic
missions, called interests sections, which operate much like embassies.
However, under the current arrangement, American diplomats have few
opportunities to travel outside the capital to engage with ordinary
Cubans, and their access to the Cuban government is very limited.
“The Obama administration in 2009 took important steps
to ease the embargo, a patchwork of laws and policies, making it easier
for Cubans in the United States to send remittances to relatives in
Cuba and authorizing more Cuban-Americans to travel there. And it has
paved the way for initiatives to expand Internet access and cell phone
coverage on the island.
“For instance, it could lift caps on remittances,
allow Americans to finance private Cuban businesses and expand
opportunities for travel to the island.
“It could also help American companies that are
interested in developing the island’s telecommunications network but
remain wary of the legal and political risks..
“Failing to engage with Cuba now will likely cede this
market to competitors. The presidents of China and Russia traveled to
Cuba in separate visits in July, and both leaders pledged to expand
“It would better position Washington to press the
Cubans on democratic reforms, and could stem a new wave of migration to
the United States driven by hopelessness.
“Closer ties could also bring a breakthrough on the
case of an American development contractor, Alan Gross, who has been
unjustly imprisoned by Cuba for nearly five years. More broadly, it
would create opportunities to empower ordinary Cubans, gradually eroding
the government’s ability to control their lives.
“…Western Hemisphere heads of state will meet in
Panama City for the seventh Summit of the Americas. Latin American
governments insisted that Cuba, the Caribbean’s most populous island and
one of the most educated societies in the hemisphere, be invited,
breaking with its traditional exclusion at the insistence of Washington.
“Given the many crises around the world, the White
House may want to avoid a major shift in Cuba policy. Yet engaging with
Cuba and starting to unlock the potential of its citizens could end up
being among the administration’s most consequential foreign-policy
“Normalizing relations with Havana would improve
Washington’s relationships with governments in Latin America, and
resolve an irritant that has stymied initiatives in the hemisphere..”
“…The Obama administration is leery of Cuba’s presence at the meeting and Mr. Obama has not committed to attending.
“He must — and he should see it as an opportunity to make history.”
One of the most educated societies in the
hemisphere!!!! This is indeed recognition. But why doesn’t it mention
this straight away, that in no way is this society comparable to that
which Harry S. Truman bequeathed to us when his ally and great public
treasury looter Fulgencio Batista took power on March 10, 1952, only 50
days after the general election. This can never be forgotten.
The article is obviously written with great skill,
seeking the greatest benefit for U.S. policy in a complex situation, in
the midst of increasing political, economic, financial and commercial
problems. To these are added the effects of rapid climate change;
commercial competition; the speed, precision and destructive power of
weapons which threaten the survival of mankind. What is written today
has a very different connotation to that which was written just 40 years
ago when our planet was already forced to stockpile and withhold water
and food from the equivalent of half the world’s current population.
This without mentioning the fight against Ebola which is threatening the
health of millions of people.
Add to this that in a few days the global community
will reveal before the United Nations whether it agrees with the
blockade against Cuba or not.
week stateside, the edge may be off the Ebola story for the U.S. news
media, as those people in Dallas who were close to the late Thomas Eric
Duncan emerge from their 21-day quarantine. The Obama administration has
appointed an Ebola czar and the military is pulling together a kind of
infectious disease SWAT team that can helicopter in the next time a
“world-class” American hospital fumbles an Ebola case.
Glad that’s resolved.
a human tragedy it will be if we fail to grasp what are the existing
pre-conditions that set the stage for this unprecedented global outbreak
Missing from the wall-to-wall coverage of the global
Ebola crisis is a root-cause analysis that shows how unfettered free
market global capitalism and our obscene spending on the military both
play a part in creating the environment for this latest outbreak and the
ones that are sure to follow.
Annually the world spends more than
$1.7 trillion on the military. According to the Wall Street Journal the
world spends a whopping $27 billion on the world’s public health. Keep
that obscene imbalance in your mind the next time you see pictures of
Liberians bleeding out in the street.
No missile killed them, but our greed and global death-oriented spending priorities have left fingerprints on all these bodies.
in the U.S. we spend close to $700 billion on the military annually,
roughly 20 percent of the federal budget, equivalent to just under
$2,500 per capita. Contrast that with our foreign aid for things like
public health where we part with
just $19 billon, or .6 percent of the federal budget, just $61 per
capita. Twenty other nations actually give a higher percentage of their
gross national product in non-military aid to nations in need than we
Our military spending squeezes out so much that needs to be
done both at home and abroad. And there are lost opportunity costs of
not doing what needs to be done, like seeing to it that places like West
Africa, the epicenter of the latest Ebola outbreak, have a basic public
This latest global pandemic shows just how
yesterday our “homeland security” threat–based security matrix is. In
the jet age of hop-and-a-skip Ebola, it feels fatally provincial.
Ultimately, our essential homeland is planet Earth.
President Obama does his best to shift back and forth from commander in
chief of the war on terror to global public health advocate, he is
going to find maintaining the public’s trust, both here and abroad,
essential but difficult. For quite a while now the U.S. brand has been
tied to its myopic prosecution of the the war on terror, even if it
killed innocent civilians and put the global public health at risk.
else does one explain the CIA’s fraudulent use of a public health
vaccination program in Pakistan to harvest DNA from households they
suspected of harboring Osama bin Laden? As a direct consequence of the
CIA’s subterfuge bin Laden supporters targeted several public health
workers administering polio vaccination for assassination.
that particular CIA strategy did not help the U.S. achieve its ultimate
goal, there was major blowback. The U.N. had to shut down its polio
eradication efforts in Pakistan, one of only a handful of countries in
the world at the time where wild polio transmission still happens. So
severe were the potential consequences that in January of 2013 deans of
the 12 leading American schools of public health wrote President Obama
directly, taking the CIA to task. “This disguising of an intelligence
gathering effort as a humanitarian public health service has resulted in
serious collateral consequences that affect the public health
community,” read a press release put out along with the letter.
week later Lisa Monaco, the White House’s top counter-terror and
homeland security expert, wrote back pledging the CIA would not repeat
But the damage may have been done, especially in the
parts of the world where U.S.-based pharma multinationals’ vaccination
products have long been viewed as suspect and with the same skepticism
expressed by vaccination opponents stateside. By in the spring of this
year the World Health Organization was reporting a resurgence of polio
centered in the Middle East and Africa that “constitutes an
extraordinary event and a public health risk to other States for which a
coordinated international response is essential,” WHO warned the world.
“If unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate
globally one of the most serious vaccine preventable diseases.”
global context, keep in mind that in 1979 polio had been eradicated in
the United States, but experts say maintaining that status requires high
vaccination rates here and an aggressive program around the world. In
an increasingly mobile world, the Centers for Disease Control warns that
without a coordinated international effort “scenarios for polio being
introduced into the United States are easy to imagine.”
this reality creates a dynamic tension between public health and
commerce that is so present in the current “fly–no fly” Ebola debate. We
have a media-induced near religious belief that only through unfettered
global free trade and travel can a brighter tomorrow dawn. We think we
have conquered the natural world but it can still kick us in the ass
with fatal results. We have failed to grasp even the basic consequences
of the mobility many of us take for granted. We are blind to the social
and ecological costs exacted on the people of Africa by transnationals
in the hot pursuit of everything from bauxite to crude oil.
our 21st century genius we lose jet airliners and killer epidemics can
percolate for several months in remote places like West Africa,
impoverished by an extraction industry like the mining of bauxite used
to make the aluminum we need for the planes we fly and the latest
high-tech gadgets we depend on to stay connected. Our pressing question
all too often is, Can we get an upgrade?
Suffice to say most
Americans have no idea where this virulent Ebola strain has come from or
how many people it has already killed. Media figures vary. Laurie
Garrett, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, told the PBS
News Hour this week that for the first time officials at the World
Health Organization had conceded the “bad news” that they had no real
data from Liberia. Garrett says she estimates the actual Ebola death toll is between 15,000 and 16,000 deaths.
There is expert consensus that the Ebola tide has to be turned where it originated. We can’t just hermetically seal our borders.
to the World Health Organization, “ground zero” for the outbreak was
“in the remote Guinean village of Meliandou” where the borders of the
West African nations Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone all meet. The
first fatality, according to WHO, was a 2-year-old boy who died two days
after he became sick around Christmastime of last year.
matter of weeks his 3-year-old sister, mother and grandmother all had
succumbed to what was still at that point a mysterious disease to the
local doctors who were unfamiliar with Ebola because it had previously
been only associated with countries in Central Africa. In one of the
most medically underserved places in the world, local doctors were all
too familiar with the regular outbreaks of infectious diseases like
cholera and malaria but were baffled by what they were facing.
the young boy’s death, the mysterious disease continued to smolder
undetected, causing several chains of deadly transmission,” according to
WHO’s account. “Who could have ever guessed that such a notorious
disease, previously confined to Central Africa and Gabon, would crop up
in another distant part of the continent?”
It was not until March
of this year that WHO officially posted the Ebola outbreak advisory. For
months there was lots of public health hand-wringing. Experts were
lured into complacency when local outbreaks seemed to wane, only to
resurge with a vengeance, decimating a part of the world that, despite
its great natural resource wealth, lacks basic public health
For Africa in the age of unfettered global
capitalism, the leverage is still with transnational corporations that
can easily exploit the corruption and political instability that grips
so much of the continent. “With 24 percent of the world’s infectious
disease burden, Africa has only 3 percent of the world’s health
professionals, with massive shortages of physicians, nurses,
technicians, health administrators and planners,” writes Jennifer Cooke, author of “Public Health in Africa.”
effort at coming to understand Ebola has to be pursued holistically. As
reported earlier this month in the Digital Journal, there are expert
estimates that West Africa has lost as much as 90 percent of its virgin
forest lands to human activities including farming and mining. Scientists believe there is a corollary between deforestation and the increasing frequency and severity of Ebola outbreaks.
is a zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals to people. As the
population grows and human settlement expands into the shrinking
tropical forests, the local population, which survives off bush meat, is
increasingly exposed to the disease present in species like fruit bats
and chimpanzees. Such was the conclusion reached in the 2012 report “Ebola Virus Outbreaks in Africa and Present” published in the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Medicine.
the same time a never-ending cycle of political violence in the region
makes it impossible to achieve the stability needed to establish and
maintain the public health infrastructure necessary for a traumatized
and often at risk population. All too often African leaders decide it’s
more critical to spend money to buttress their military for their own
self-preservation, as opposed to investing in the public health of their
constituents. Add into the mix a terrorist group like Boko Haram and
you have a civil society constantly under duress.
for Americans and Europeans, Africa was a place to get slaves, free
labor. In modern times it is a place from which we extract diamonds,
gold, bauxite, oil, whatever, at the lowest possible price, so as to
make the most profit. It is just business. If you can add to your mass
consumer market in the process, that’s fine too. But, overwhelmingly,
the majority of Africans are left out of the global free trade
wealth-creating machine that is fueled by Africa’s natural resources.
for the U.S., with the fall of the Soviet Union and after Sept. 11, we
have increasingly asserted ourselves with drone attacks and strategic
military raids in Africa aimed at disrupting terrorist networks.
all the rhetoric about being interconnected it is hard to get the
developed world to really have skin in the game over the long term. Yes,
President George W. Bush’s focused efforts to spend billions to fight
HIV-AIDS in Africa was a bipartisan success that made a difference for
Yet last year the Washington Post reported that
President Obama actually became the first president since Reagan to back
off the U.S. commitment to fighting HIV-AIDS, slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the program.
this Ebola outbreak has to drive home is the reality that U.S. aid to
support public health in Africa is not a selfless act of charity but one
of self -preservation. Over the decades of African relief ads on
late-night TV we may have become inured to the image of starving and
disease-stricken children. That’s not to say the world has not made
progress. Consider that in 1990 the World Health Organization reported
that around the world 12.6 million children under age 5 died. That’s
almost two Holocausts a year.
By 2012 that was down to 6.6 million
dead children and about half of them were from sub-Saharan Africa. But
as we have seen with the death of the 2-year-old in Guinea last
Christmas, the loss of just one can have repercussions felt around the
Mayor de Blasio promised to make his the most diverse
administration in decades — but his racial-ethnic balancing act is being
questioned by a leading Latino leader.
“Despite his broad progressive policy agenda, his administration has
developed a blind spot when it comes to his appointment of Latinos at
levels reflective of our size of New York City’s population,” said
Angelo Falcon, director of the National Institute for Latino Policy.
“At last count, despite making up 29 percent of the population,
Latinos were only 12 percent or less of de Blasio’s appointments, the
biggest disparity among the city’s racial-ethnic groups,” Falcon
complained in his group’s newsletter sent out Monday via e-mail.
There are a number of Hispanics in top positions in the administration.
Liliam Barrios Paoli is the deputy mayor for health and human services and Carmen Fariña is the schools chancellor.
Gladys Carrion heads the Administration of Children Services, Kathryn
Garcia is the sanitation commissioner and Marco Carrion heads the
mayor’s community affairs unit.
But Falcon complained that a majority of the 26 top Hispanic mayoral
appointments are concentrated in only three agencies — the mayor’s
office, the Department of Education and the mayor’s Fund to Advance New
“The result is that Latinos are not a significant presence in policy-making positions in most of the city’s agencies,” he said.
“And despite repeated requests by Latino community leaders for a
meeting to remedy this problem, the mayor has chosen to ignore these
voices of concern,” said Falcon, who then compared de Blasio to the last
“progressive” mayor, David Dinkins.
“Will history repeat itself? Quien sabe? [who knows?]”
Other Latino leaders were willing to cut de Blasio some slack.
“We need to give him time to put the hirings in place. The mayor is
moving in the right direction,” said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz
(D-Brookyn), chairman of the state Legislature’s Hispanic Task Force.
“In comparison to . . . Bloomberg and Giuliani, he’s doing a good job.”
De Blasio’s office defended the Latino representation in his government — but didn’t dispute Falcon’s figures.
“The mayor and his leadership team are committed to increasing the
representation of Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian American and
Pacific Islanders across the administration,” said mayoral spokeswoman
“ We have been very clear in our intention to build an administration
that is representative of all New Yorkers and we are proud of the
diverse team that we have built to date.”
Mayor de Blasio admitted Monday that he needs to rein in an
out-of-control city program that pays millions of dollars to store the
possessions of homeless people, in the wake of a Post exposé about a woman who ran up more than $200,000 in taxpayer-funded storage bills.
De Blasio blamed Albany lawmakers for the program’s soaring costs,
which reached $14.6 million in fiscal year 2014, saying the city is
mandated to keep homeless residents’ stuff in storage until they find
“As you know, we are compelled by state law in that area, and I
certainly have concerns, because our focus is on housing people not
belongings,” de Blasio said. “So I’d like to see resources go to people
not belongings, but we have to figure out how to navigate that state
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) said he was stunned to learn from
The Post’s page-one story on Monday that Andrea Logan, 54, racked up the
astounding storage bills over eight years and that last year the tab to
store her belongings had reached $3,585 a month — enough to rent her a
well-appointed Manhattan apartment.
“Obviously, it was shocking! I had no idea that we were actually
paying to store people’s property when they become homeless,” said
Avella, chairman of the Social Services committee.
“If it’s a temporary situation that’s one thing, but for long-term storage, it’s just absurd.”
Avella also fired off a letter demanding a response from the city’s
Human Resources Administration, where a source told The Post: “Clearly,
there’s a problem.”
Meanwhile, a court ruling from 2010 exposed further abuse of the
homeless storage program by a man who had gotten approval to keep his
possessions locked away at taxpayer expense — even though he’d been
paying rent on a share of a Hell’s Kitchen apartment for more than seven
Bankruptcy Court records revealed that Alain Mercier got the benefit
in March 2008, despite claiming to own less than $1,400 worth of
Officials canceled his $144-a-month grant for storage fees in 2009,
and Mercier — who was paying his rent with a $350 “enhanced shelter
allowance” — sued to hold onto the benefit.
But a judge tossed the case in 2010 because state law didn’t require that his storage bills be paid “for an indefinite period.”
An HRA spokesman said the agency is “concerned about the rates that
are charged, and this is one of the reasons why we plan to develop a new
process to identify which storage companies and rates will be