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COVID-19 has pummeled already-stressed NYCHA

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COVID-19 has pummeled already-stressed NYCHA

The Citizens Budget Commission, a respected fiscal watchdog group, is out with a new report looking at how the pandemic has slammed the New York City Housing Authority. The public-housing agency, the city’s largest landlord, has been in crisis for years now, and COVID hasn’t helped.

First, the outbreak gave another shock to NYCHA’s tenuous fiscal situation. Pre-pandemic, the agency expected to end 2020 with a $91 million surplus — cash to hire more staff to close its work-order backlog, catch up on deferred maintenance and proceed with its court-ordered reorganization. But collapsing rent collections — almost two in five tenants owe at least one month’s rent — will cost an estimated $72 million.

Countering COVID risks also made “the agency’s operations more costly and more difficult to fix,” the CBC notes. Only major federal relief for pandemic-related expenses enabled NYCHA to end 2020 with a balanced budget.

Plus, the crisis slowed vital work such as mold remediation, pest control, waste management and lead-paint issues, likely adding to future costs. The CBC predicts that the growing backlog of work orders and maintenance leaves NYCHA looking at an ever more nightmarish workload this year.

Hence such signs of trouble as the heat and hot water outage at the 21-building, 4,000- resident Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn during a recent January cold blast.

Just before the lockdown, Bart Schwartz, the federal monitor overseeing NYCHA, reported that over 100,000 public-housing units hadn’t been inspected for lead paint, and 55 percent of the inspected were contaminated. In The Post’s Nolan Hicks’ exclusive reporting, experts said that meant that lead contamination was likely throughout the entire system.

The woes go beyond COVID: NYCHA projects saw spikes in violent crime as shootings rose 103 percent in 2020, while murders jumped by nearly 50 percent.

There’s some good news: NYCHA’s basic management abilities greatly improved, and it achieved important reforms to union work rules.

But now as before, moving much of the system into the Section 8 Rental Assistance Demonstration program is urgent. Local officials must not stand in the way of this needed conversion.

Sadly, it seems clear that the Biden administration won’t deliver any funding to cover the estimated $40 billion repair bill: Too many other local interests have the political pull to get higher priority.

The authority’s chairman, Greg Russ, has his work cut out for him as he strives to shrink the agency’s footprint and make it financially sound. We wish him success.

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Opinion

Open up all NYC classrooms!

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Open up all NYC classrooms!

Once again, the science proves: Schools pose minimal risk in the spread of COVID-19. The CDC says it. Experts say it. 

And New York shows it, with just three city schools closed to hybrid in-person learning, out of an abundance of caution, because someone tested positive at the facilities. The infection rate in schools has consistently been below 1 percent and a significant percentage of teachers has been vaccinated.

All of which leads us to beg, to plead:

OPEN ALL THE SCHOOLS NOW!

The future of our children depends on it.

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Race and gender rhetoric is the perfect cover for corporate misdeeds

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Race and gender rhetoric is the perfect cover for corporate misdeeds

Every ruling class sustains a myth to legitimate its rule. What distinguishes America’s corporate elite and its legitimating myth — wokeness and endless self-flagellation about “equity” — is a galling dishonesty married to rapacious greed.

For a stark illustration, consider the financial giant Citigroup.

In September, as protests and race riots gripped the nation, Citi published a study claiming that racism has cost the United States $16 trillion. The bank’s then-vice chairman, Raymond McGuire, contributed a pained and pious introduction.

Citigroup also announced Jane Fraser as its new CEO in September, making her the first female boss of a major Wall Street bank. Thus, as progressives applauded yet another corporate entry into the register of social justice, it went mostly unnoticed that federal regulators fined the bank $400 million the following month.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a regulatory agency within the US Treasury, said this penalty is “based on the bank’s unsafe or unsound banking practices for its long-standing failure to establish effective risk-management and data-governance programs and internal controls.” Regulators were curiously vague about the specifics. Fraser, as the financial press delicately put it, was “saddled” with a cleanup job.

From 2015 to 2019, Fraser served as chief executive of Citi’s Latin-American region. During her tenure, the bank paid $10.5 million in penalties to the Securities and Exchange Commission. “The charges stem from $81 million of losses due to trader mismarking and unauthorized proprietary trading and $475 million of losses due to fraudulently-induced loans made by a Mexican subsidiary,” the SEC said in a statement on Aug. 16, 2018.

Those penalties came a month after Citigroup reached an agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to pay $335 million in restitution to credit-card customers. The bank failed to reevaluate and reduce the annual percentage rates after periodic account reviews, as required by law, for approximately 1.75 million customers.

It’s hard to avoid the impression that Citi’s race-and-gender agonies — the study on racism, the female CEO — were meant to cover misconduct for which the firm has been repeatedly fined.

Silicon Valley follows a similar template.

A leaked 2020 internal memo revealed that Facebook has a policy — dubbed a “diversity initiative” — of deliberately passing over Americans for visa workers in hiring. “When hiring for HR positions, it’s important to prioritize H-1B visa workers, and this will stimulate the process of diversification of the workplace. Although not mandatory, we recognize that the priority of H-1B applicants in favor of American applicants is for the greater good of company culture.”

Facebook denied the authenticity of the memo. But the Department of Justice announced a lawsuit against the company in December 2020, alleging Facebook intentionally and systematically broke the law by refusing to hire interested and qualified American workers. “Diversification” masks a system of ruthless labor exploitation and outsourcing.

Visa workers’ right to stay in the United States is contingent on their employment, so they are naturally less prone to complaining about working conditions. It’s also not as easy for them as it is for citizens to take legal recourse against abusive employers. A “diverse” workforce is a docile and obedient one, as Amazon also knows.

Whole Foods, Amazon’s supermarket chain, has its own “diversity” initiative. As with Facebook, it is a cynical ploy intended to disadvantage workers.

Internal documents reviewed by Business Insider show Whole Foods promotes diversification because stores with lower racial diversity have a higher likelihood of unionizing. In other words, Amazon doesn’t want workers to bargain for better pay and working conditions. And although the company is freezing donations to Republicans who challenged the certification of President Biden’s victory, in part, due to irregularities involving mail-in ballots, Amazon attempted to block voting by mail for a union election at a fulfillment center in Alabama. Mail-in voting, Amazon said, prevents supervision and “a fair election.”

America’s “woke” moment has allowed the oligarchs to apply a fresh patina of legitimacy to rotting and repulsively unjust power structures.

Pedro Gonzalez is assistant editor of American Greatness.

Twitter: @Emereticus  

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — Feb. 25, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — Feb. 25, 2021

The Issue: A winter storm in Texas that knocked out state residents’ power for over a week.

The premise of Kevin D. Williamson’s article rests on a flawed observation that the energy woes of Texas were a result of underperforming renewables. The author failed to note that of the 45 gigawatts of power offline, 30 gigawatts involved natural gas (“The Mess In Texas,” PostScript, Feb. 21).

In fact, it is widely acknowledged now that renewables performed better than expected, while fossil-fuel plants underperformed.

Since the piece included the exact number by which solar and wind failed, I can only assume the author also knew how much of a failure thermal plants were.

Therefore this piece is just another attempt to confuse the public and distract from the urgency with which renewables need to be implemented.

Nimisha Wasankar

Austin, Texas

Williamson puts a large part of the blame for Texas’ energy-system failure on the state’s spending on renewable energy instead of making the fossil-fuel part of the system more robust.

He is missing a very important point: Just as Texans didn’t spend to protect their traditional energy sources from cold weather, they didn’t protect their renewable sources, in particular wind, from the very same problems.

Phil Dix

Delran, NJ

The Republican Party has been successful in running against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“Tex. gov plea for more aid,” Feb. 21).

It has raised money and frightened voters by painting her as a real danger to the American way of life.

Texas is undergoing a terrible crisis because of extreme weather. Guess who raised money to help Texans? AOC.

Not President Donald Trump, Reps. Mo Brooks or Kevin McCarthy or Sen. Ted Cruz. These self-proclaimed lovers of the average citizen have done nothing to help their fellow citizens.

As much as I do not agree with AOC’s politics, she has proven to be a real American hero.

Alan Podhaizer

Brooklyn

I’m very distressed about what is happening in Texas and the many people who are suffering dearly: the cold, the snow, the power shutdown, the lack of heat and the shortage of drinking water. This is just so sad.

My cousin, Ronald Moyne, is 72-years-old and lives in Denton, Texas, had no electric to power his home and had to boil water.

The power companies there have fallen down on the job and did not do what had to be done to protect the people of Texas with a plan in place to be ready for this disaster.

Added to all this, many are also hurting from COVID, like the rest of the nation. My prayers go out to all the people of Texas who are suffering so much.

Frederick Bedell

Bellerose

Crying Chuck Schumer should keep his nasty snide remarks about Texas to himself, as we are a self-sufficient state that believes in freedom for all Americans, not just our residents (“Tex. water-crisis fury,” Feb. 22).

It’s the only state in the lower 48 that has its own power grid, but much of that has been hampered by the new administration’s attempts to cut our sources of energy.

Perhaps if Schumer paid more attention to his killer governor, or the abundantly high murder and subway-crime rates, then New York City wouldn’t have so many people fleeing to safer places to live.

Don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house, Chuckie. I’m a former New York City resident.

Douglas Ellis

Mansfield, Texas

Schumer has it backward when he says that Texas is paying the price for ignoring climate change.

Texans made the mistake of believing the global-warming alarmists who said that Texas would become hotter and drier and that snow would be a thing of the past. Why then should Texans weatherize its pipelines?

Why should the state install expensive equipment in its wind turbines to enable them to withstand extreme cold?

Texas’ mistake was listening to the apostles of global warming, not ignoring them.

Rael Isaac

Irvington

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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