- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Dinowitz Blames Filtration Plant Problems on Bloomberg | Bronx News Networkbronx

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dinowitz Blames Filtration Plant Problems on Bloomberg

[Updated, Nov. 3, 12:56 p.m.]
Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, one of the most outspoken critics of the city's plan to build a an enormous water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park, says the construction delays, cost overruns and other problems associated with the Department of Enviornmental Protection's project should fall on the shoulders of Mayor Bloomberg.

Bloomberg is up for re-election tomorrow.

The DEP met with members of the filtration plant's monitoring committee and local residents last Thursday at the Amalgamated Houses. Deputy Comptroller John Brown was also on hand to discuss his office's audit of the project, released in early September, that highlighted the problems with the project.

Most notably, the report said the original estimates for the project were so completely innaccurate that it calls into question whether the project should have been sited on public parkland in the first place.

By all accounts, residents at the meeting expressed a great deal of outrage and dismay at the Comptroller's findings.

Here's Dinowitz's complete release:

The meeting that the five community members of the Croton Facilities Monitoring Committee (CFMC) held in the Amalgamated House’s Vladeck Hall on Thursday, October 29 illustrated conclusively that the water filtration plant boondoggle that is costing taxpayers unnecessary billions and is being grossly mismanaged by a secretive NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s worst failures.

At the meeting, Deputy Comptroller John Graham explained that the recently released audits by Comptroller Bill Thompson found that the DEP could not account for the astronomical rise in costs as compared with their original budgeting for the project. Many who attended spoke emphatically that the comptroller’s findings definitively support their long-held claim that the DEP cooked the books in order to see to it that the plant was built in Van Cortlandt Park and to create a lucrative bonanza for contractors and engineers while sticking everyday New Yorkers with an outrageous bill.

Specifically, the comptroller reported that the DEP failed to account for a cost escalation rate above those substantiated by industry indexes such as the Engineering News-Record Construction index of 5.04%, or the Handy-Whitman Index of Public Utility Construction of 5.73%, or the Prevailing Wage Rates of 4.7%.

I agree with the Comptroller: “(The DEP’s) Underlying estimate was unreliable and lacked sufficient documentation to substantiate its accuracy and completeness.” The still unanswered question of why they did it and who benefited from it was also raised at the meeting, but not surprisingly, though DEP and contractor representatives were present, they did not participate in the discussion. What is clear is that we all need to continue our due diligence until the truth is definitively known.

Though not an official CFMC meeting, the gathering was a clear statement to Mayor Bloomberg’s DEP that a majority of the seven-member committee is fed up over the unexplained costs, debilitating and expensive construction delays, and ongoing DEP stonewalling and lack of transparency as indicated in the comptroller’s audit. It was made clear that at the next CFMC meeting, scheduled for Thursday, November 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the DEP office at 3660 Jerome Avenue, the comptroller’s report is going to be on the agenda and Mayor Bloomberg’s DEP is going to have to attempt to justify their actions and also change the opaque processes which contribute to the scandal on a daily basis.

Since its establishment by the City Council in 2004, the committee charged with monitoring this project was manipulated by the DEP, thereby hampering its work. However, in 2007 after my office reported that the DEP’s explanation rate for the cost escalation was not correct and that DEP’s stated justifications were invalid smoke screens, the committee finally stood up to then-Commissioner Emily Lloyd, and voted to ask for the audit. In a pathetic and obvious attempt to avoid inquiry, though the report was issued almost two months ago, the DEP has balked at scheduling meetings of the CFMC until after the mayoral election.

But Thursday’s history-making meeting proves that no matter how much the Mayor controls the Manhattan media, the people of the Bronx must continue to stand strong in the pursuit of truthful information from City Hall and diligence over the administration’s ongoing attempt to hide from scrutiny.

I applaud the work of the community members of the Croton Facilities Monitoring Committee, and look forward to its next meeting on Thursday, November 5 so we can hear what the DEP has to say.

[Editor's note: It should be noted that the DEP says it cancelled the last two CFMC meetings at the request of CFMC members. The September meeting was cancelled after members found out that a presentation and discussion of the Comptroller's audit was not on the agenda, according to two committee members and the DEP. The October meeting was cancelled because at least one of the members could not attend the meeting, according to CFMC Chairman Greg Faulkner and the DEP. This note was changed and clarified from the original.]


  1. To the Editor:

    First some corrections.

    1. Deputy Comptroller John Graham (not Brown)

    2. At the meeting, residents displayed outrage at the project, not at the Comptroller's findings. They were outraged that no one is monitoring the project, and that it took so many years for the findings to be public.

    3. These findings were absolutely stunning. They verify what many of us, including Assemblyman Dinowitz have been saying, that the project is too big, too costly and in the wrong place.

    4. Assemblyman Dinowitz is not blaming filtration plant problems on Bloomberg, as your headine states. While that may be true and due to poor management, the blog states that the "project" is one of the Mayor's worst failures!

    Not for my comment.

    All sides are not equal. While I would love to think that community residents (and its groups and community boards) are powerful, they do not come close to the power and the staffing of the Mayor of the City of New York. Even adding the staffing and the offices of our elected officials, it does not even approach 5%. Compared to the power of the richest man in the city, we just do not get to equal.

    Why do I say this? Well, I guess I expect the community to be given the benefit of the doubt. Local media do not have to side with the community and its elected officials, but the benefit of the doubt ........well, in lieu of actual investigation, should go to the public.

    I am upset with your comment in the middle of Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz blog. The fact is that the reporting on this issue is not as investigative as the community needs. The fact is that the DEP did try to avoid and was successful in suppressing inquiries on the audit of this horrible project.

    Why did the community members of the FMC call a meeting? Why did they arrange for a presentation of the two month old audits from the Comptroller?

    I can assure you that no one wanted to be at the meeting on the first day of the world series, and would much rather that the official committee and the officials of the DEP arrange for the meeting in September and/or mid October (as all the meetings are held). Think about it.

    Last June, I personally presented the DEP with 22 questions about the project and begged them to answer them at a meeting in the summer. Some of the FMC members were asking for the same.

    No meeting in July.

    No meeting in August.

    They did schedule a meeting in September, and they answered some of my questions and others (Jane Sokolow and Dart Westphal)questions in writing, but it was not on the agenda. The Comptroller's Audits were not on the agenda. More importantly, the report concerning access inside the fence of the Jerome Park Reservoir was not ready. Finally, the DEP blasting schedule across the street from the Bronx High School of Science was not public. The meeting was cancelled because the DEP was not prepared. They blamed it on someone else, but basically, they were not going to be in control. All of this information should have been investigated and reported by someone in the media.

    The October meeting is a comedy of errors. On October 5th Greg Faulkner told me that the DEP had completed its Jerome Park Reservoir Access report, but wanted to hold a secret meeting of the FMC members ONLY. The issue concerned security. On October 9th I sent an email to Martha Holstein asking about the FMC meeting and she replied that she knew nothing about it and have a nice weekend. On October 13th she sent out a notice of a meeting for the 15th. They planned to hold the secret part of the meeting before the public part. By the next day it was cancelled. All of this information should have been investigated and reported by someone in the media.

    The last straw was that there was only one reporter at the meeting held last October 29. We do not really mind, as the public got to speak out about the travestry of this project which should be called BLOOMBERG's FOLLY.

  2. I tried to preview it and it was published so there are some editorial errors.

    Now (not Not) for the comments.
    Westphal) (space) questions


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