New York Daily News Rivington House sale not reason the Department of Citywide Administrative Services fired top official: commissioner by Erin Durkin

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Rivington House sale not reason the Department of Citywide Administrative Services fired top official: commissioner
Erin Durkin
03/13/2017
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The Rivington House property was sold to a condo developer at a massive profit.

The firing of a top official at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services "had absolutely nothing to do" with a botched land deal that let Lower East Side nursing home Rivington House be flipped for luxury condos, the agency's commissioner said — but she refused to say whether it was related to other issues being probed by federal investigators.

"That is a very sensitive personnel issue, as you can imagine," Commissioner Lisette Camilo said Monday as she was grilled by the City Council on the firing of deputy commissioner Ricardo Morales — who got the boot the same day Mayor de Blasio sat down with federal investigators probing his fundraising.

Morales approved the lifting of a deed restriction that had required Rivington House to be used for healthcare, a move that allowed the property to be sold to a condo developer at a massive profit.

But Camilo said that's not why she fired him. "Such a personnel issue had absolutely nothing to do with Rivington," she said.

The feds are also probing whether de Blasio or his aides intervened in lease negotiations on behalf of a donor, Harendra Singh, and his Water's Edge restaurant in Queens — another matter handled by DCAS.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss that," Camilo said when asked whether Morales was terminated over his dealings with Water's Edge.

DCAS's general counsel later refused to say whether it was Morales who rejected a proposed contract with the now-shuttered restaurant.

Ricardo Morales approved the lifting of a deed restriction that had required Rivington House to be used for healthcare.

Ricardo Morales approved the lifting of a deed restriction that had required Rivington House to be used for healthcare.

 (KATHY KMONICEK/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

"It's not a topic that I can get into," Camilo said when asked by Council government operations chair Ben Kallos whether "poor performance" got Morales fired. She also refused to say whether Morales was cooperating with federal authorities investigating the mayor.

Camilo said she made the decision to get rid of Morales and informed first Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris. Morales's lawyer has said the dismissal was improper and called the timing "highly suspicious."

Meanwhile, DCAS revealed that since overhauling their rules on deed restrictions in response to the scandal, they've received requests to change or remove the restrictions on seven properties.

The properties are in Harlem, Longwood in the Bronx, and Bedford Stuyvesant, East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bushwick, and East New York in Brooklyn. No action has been taken on any of the proposals yet.

Kallos (D-Manhattan) said the Longwood request raises red flags because like Rivington, it is a non-profit nursing home and rehab facility currently restricted to that use.

 

Issue: 
Land Use