The Housing Authority put a gag order on workers to prevent them from giving information to elected officials in the chaotic days after Hurricane Sandy unleashed her devastation, the Daily News has learned.Four days after Sandy knocked out power, heat and hot water for thousands of NYCHA tenants, the authority’s new general manager sent a memo to the agency’s 11,500 staffers ordering them to clam up if a public official wanted to know about a particular development.“If approached by an Elected Official: Please do not provide information,” wrote NYCHA’s $195,000-a-year general manager Cecil House in an internal email.NYCHA workers were instructed to forward the official’s name to the authority’s “intergovernmental team.”The memo — which also warned workers not to talk to the press — was sent late on Nov. 2, after the storm had knocked out basic services for nearly 80,000 residents in 400 buildings.House — hired by NYCHA Chairman John Rhea in August from the private sector — did not return calls Tuesday seeking an explanation for the memo.Since the storm hit Oct. 29, residents and some officials have blasted NYCHA’s slow response, noting that it took longer to return power, heat and hot water to thousands of public housing tenants than to private sector buildings next door to developments.The mayor’s office said power has been restored to all NYCHA properties as of Tuesday night, while 18,000 NYCHA tenants remained without heat and hot water.The gag order for NYCHA workers enraged several elected officials.“It leaves you totally speechless,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “We’re in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and the Housing Authority is worried about its reputation.”State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn/Staten Island) has been frustrated by NYCHA’s inaction in Coney Island, where some 7,000 residents still have no heat or hot water.“Are they that worried about the rest of the world finding out just how bad their response was?” she said.Savino also slammed Rhea’s comment Monday that residents must keep paying rent for their hellhole apartments before they get a “Christmas present” in the form of a rebate in January.“He thinks he’s doing these people a favor, (but) some of these people can’t get down the stairs to pay the rent,” she said.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
NYCHA Gag Order - Don't Give Out Any Information
From the NY Daily News: