You should know that an article titled “New NYCHA head to make $400K, will be highest paid city official” written by Nolan Hicks and Joe Tacopino was in the June 19, 2019 edition of the New York Post.
According to that article: “The head of the city’s scandal-plagued Housing Authority will make about $400,000 a year — more than any other city official, it was revealed Tuesday night.
Gregory Russ, the head of Minneapolis’ tiny public housing agency, will receive the large paycheck despite the fact the he plans to travel back to Minnesota every weekend, according to city officials.”
It is important for you to know that this deal to hire a man from Minnesota and pay him a record $402,628.00 to Chair the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
You should know that NYCHA’s last permanent Chair, Ms. Shola Olatoye earned an annual salary of $231,000.00, substantially less than what Mr. Russ will be earning. Come to think of it, Mayor de Blasio’s choice for NYC Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza is being paid over $100,000.00 more than his predecessor, Chancellor Carmen Fariña, another woman. That says a lot about who is breaking through the glass ceiling under Bill de Blasio’s Mayoralty!
Apparently, Mayor de Blasio has even provided Mr. Russ with a relaxed residency requirement, allowing him to commute when he wants to go to Minnesota to be with his family. This is certainly unlike the strict residency rules that most NYC employees must abide by.
We all know being the NYCHA Chair is a 24/7 job. In a city of 8 million people, isn’t there someone more qualified and able to devote him or herself to serve as Chair for NYCHA. Do we really need to look outside of New York for people to head our agencies?
You should already know that since he became Mayor, Bill de Blasio’s Administration has not had sufficient money to: help repair NYCHA’s crumbling infrastructure; eliminate the mold that plagues NYCHA buildings; abate the lead paint in NYCHA housing that is poisoning our children; and exterminate the vermin that invade bedrooms and bathrooms of NYCHA tenants.
My dear reader, while Mr. Russ may be seen as an expert on public housing in Minnesota, I don’t care if he brings a magic wand with him because the monumental problems that NYCHA tenants face will not be solved by an “out-of-towner” who won’t even move his family to our city.
We can only hope that US District Court Judge William Pauley has the same concerns: this choice of Mr. Russ fails to address the needs of NYCHA tenants.
As a Member of the New York City Council, I am making an official Freedom of Information Request to review the terms of the contract Mayor de Blasio has agreed to for Minnesota resident Mr. Russ to Chair NYCHA. In the spirit of transparency, I want to be shown more of the details of this agreement than what we have been told so far. For example, I want to know if and what kind of pension or golden parachute terms there may be, if and when this NYCHA Chair decides to leave his post.
You should also know that I am extremely concerned that Mr. Russ may support the privatization of NYCHA housing, and I will be looking into this further.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is outrageous for the Mayor of the City of New York to agree to salary terms for the NYCHA Chair to be the highest paid city official, especially when there are senior citizens and veterans and families and individuals who live in NYCHA housing and their basic living needs are not being met.
In the meantime, we need to remain vigilant and work together to utilize New York City’s resources to help improve and protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of our NYCHA tenants.
I am Council Member Reverend Rubén Díaz, Sr. and this is what you should know.