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November 16, 2013– By Steven E. Greer
BatteryPark.TV has previous and exclusively reported on the mass firing of 19 veteran staff by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) under then-Chairman Bill Thompson and CEO Gayle Horwitz. After the current BPCA administration took over, led by Chairman and CEO Dennis Mehiel, many more staff have been forced into retirement and fired (The BPCA is refusing to give details on exactly how many). Those actions triggered an internal investigation over allegations of employee harassment and abuse. Subsequently, the President of the BPCA, Demitri Boutris, abruptly resigned, and disgruntled BPCA staff sent letters to BP.TV claiming that the Mehiel administration was firing old staff and replacing them with his own “Greek cronies”.
To investigate whether the rumors that the Mehiel administration was turning the BPCA into his own “Greek fiefdom” were true, BP.TV issued a FOIL request of the names and salaries of all of the newly hired staff since Mehiel was appointed Chairman/CEO of the BPCA. The FOIL was made in August, and the BPCA legal team uncharacteristically refused to comply. After BP.TV informed them that they were breaking the law and risking litigation, the crack legal team finally provided the complete list of documents requested late Friday, November 15th.
Since Dennis Mehiel was appointed as the Chairman/CEO of the BPCA, a record number of new hires, 18 in total, have been made. That almost completely reverses the headcount reduction of 19 made in the mass culling under the Thompson/Horwitz regime. Recall, those firings were ostensibly executed in order to transition the BPCA from a “construction” project into the lesser role of “landlord and rent collector”.
Why is the Mehiel BPCA hiring so many people? Why was it necessary to fire even more people, then replace them with new-hires?
In a letter sent to BP.TV by a BPCA employee, allegations were made that the Mehiel team was hiring friends of friends, or cronies, at unnecessarily high salaries. Our evidence seems to support that. Half of the 18 new-hires came in at salaries of $100,000 or higher (rounding $95K to $100K).
One job in particular has generated multiple tips and complaints to BP.TV. The newly hired Senior VP of Human Resources, Brenda McIntrye, is paid $142,000, and replaced an HR lady who was fired by the Mehiel team. The previously reported whistleblower wrote, “The VP HR lady was hired under the new BPCA administration, without any qualifications, for $138,000. She brought from her old job three more people with salaries above $80,000, without any reason to hire them.”.
The whistleblower also wrote, “Chairman Dennis Mehiel is no less guilty. A person of Greek origin, he has hired President Demetri (Greek) at a salary of $210,000. The Chief Administrative Officer (Greek), again with no qualifications for the position, was hired with a salary of $125,000. The Secretary to President Boutris is his friend’s son (Greek) with a salary $76,000.” Those allegations seem to be true. A Chief Administrative Officer named Kirk Swanson was hired with a salary of $120,000. An “Executive Assistant to the President”, Kevin McCabe, was hired at a salary of $75,000.
Now that President Boutris has resigned, it is unclear whether his two highly paid staff are still employed. the BPCA is not disclosing information n staff let go.
We previously reported on the hiring of Daniel Curiale as Director of Financial Reporting, for a salary of $98,000, and that the hire posed a conflict of interest to the audit process. Mr. Curiale was recruited away from the accounting firm acting as the external auditor of the BPCA, which is supposed to deliver unbiased audits on the BPCA.
We also previously reported on the hiring by the BPCA of former LiRo Group employee, Anthony Buquicchio, for a salary of $130,000. Mr. Buquicchio was recently the project manager for LiRo overseeing the construction of the Asphalt Green community center. Flaws in that construction have resulted in a leaky roof, which the BPCA is budgeting $1.5 Million to repair in Fiscal 2014. Nevertheless, Mr. Buquicchio was “recruited” to work for the BPCA as the “Director of Site Management and Security”.
Several of the new positions created by the Mehiel BPCA seem to have concocted glorified titles to describe an “admin” or secretary. A “paralegal” was hired for $52,000, a “public information assistant” for $40,000, a “legal records clerk” for $33,000, a HR assistant” for $40,000, and a “public information coordinator” for $55,000 were all added within the last 12-months. An unknown number of older admins were fired.
The complete list of names and salaries is found below. If you know of ay details to add color to those hires, please send us an email or post a comment.
None of the 18 newly hired employees filled positions that were publicly advertised in print newspapers. The BPCA lists “word of mouth” as the most common answer to our FOIL requesting how the employees for found. However, it seems that it is not legally required for the BPCA to publicly announce job openings. If any readers are more familiar with employment law of state agencies, such as the BPCA, please post comments.