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August 21, 2013- By Steven E. Greer, MD
(First posted August 20, updated August 21)
The Battery Park City Authority convened a board meeting today to discuss the proposed bond offering, the City Comptroller’s recent refusal to allow BPCA funds to be used to pay for Pier A cost overruns, and other “litigation” matters. The meeting began with the Chairman and CEO, Dennis Mehiel, explaining that New York City Comptroller, John Liu, is refusing to allow the BPCA to use approximately $5 Million in funds to cover Pier A cost overruns. That action also jeopardizes the BPCA’s planned September bond revenue event.
Mr. Mehiel, and acting President Robert Serpico, explained that the plan to go to the bond markets in September is linked to the Pier A funds blocked. The state board that overseas all state authorities, The New York State Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), will vote on August 21st whether to allow the BPCA to go to the markets. However, Mr. Mehiel explained that even a vote of approval will not be a green light for September bonds.
The need to raise the $300 Million in BPCA bonds, and planned use of the revenue, were not explained. The only explanation given to date for the need to issue new bonds is for refinancing of existing bonds at lower interest rates.
After the discussion of bonds, the board moved to enter into private “executive sessions”. No mention of the 800-pond gorilla in the room, the abrupt departure of President Boutris, was made.
While the board was behind closed doors, BPCA spokesperson Matthew Monahan was mingling with the visitors and reporters. When asked about the resignation of Mr. Boutris, Mr. Monahan replied, “I do not know.”
Of note, the BPCA hired today a new public relations staffer, Beth Seibold.
After an hour and a half of executive session, the board room opened up again. Most of the local reporters had left.
The meeting was promptly adjourned, again with no discussion of the resignation of President Boutris. At that point, a New York Times reporter, Pat McGeehan approached Mr. Mehiel. Mr. Mehiel said, “Ah, you got me”.
The NY Times asked about the rumors of a state investigation caused by disgruntled former BPCA employees, and whether an investigation led to Mr. Boutris’ departure. Mr. Mehiel stated, “Let me answer you directly. I saw what the blogs said. It is completely false. There is no basis in truth, about what we saw in the blogs about letters to the sate…none of that…If you are asking me if there is any investigation that is either catalyzed by Demitri’s departure, or is his departure the result of some state investigation, let me, let me tell you without equivocation, the answer is “No”, and what you read in the blogs is completely inaccurate.”
When asked why President Boutris resigned after less than a year on the job, “Mr. Mehiel stated, “People just resign….he took a 40% pay cut coming here….he has moved on to other opportunities in California.'”
Employees who truly resign do not receive severance packages. The NY Times asked whether President Boutris is receiving severance, to which Mr. Mehiel replied, “I believe he is entitled to some unpaid vacation time.”
Sources close to the matter told BatteryPark.TV that investigators did indeed visit Battery Park City this month to extensively interview BPCA staff. Since the main person of interest was President Boutris, his resignation then ended the official “investigation”.
What led to the recent state investigation was a letter sent by disgruntled BPCA staff to the BPCA’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) officer and Special Counsel, Allyson Ford, approximately eight months ago. Ms. Ford reports to Chairman Mehiel, and a private law firm was hired to investigate. It is unclear whether state or federal officials got involved.
Since no formal state investigation is ongoing as a result of Mr. Boutris resigning, perhaps that is why Mr. Mehiel told the NY Times that there is no state investigation.
Stay tuned for more details as they emerge, and whether federal EEOC laws were violated.