Security Risk Assessments, Briefing
Differs from Letter, the Wrath of Kane
Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 7 --
With the controversies about safety, asbestos, and
transparency swirling around the UN's billion dollar Capital Master
chief of UN Security in New York Bruno Henn was asked if Security Risk
Assessments had been prepared. "No
comment," Mr. Henn said.
The town hall
meeting on the CMP and security had
abruptly been closed to the Press, even though the sign outside
3 didn't say the meeting was closed. CMP chief Michael Adlerstein's
Werner Schmidt asked two of Bruno Henn's officers to remove this report
Afterwards, while Schmidt defended the ejection, Mr.
Adlerstein said he
hadn't been aware of it, and invited the reporter to the next town hall
meeting. In the interim, he tried to explain the seemingly
back-dated letter in
which he acknowledged that the Security Risk Assessments won't in fact
finished until the end of June.
said the letter was a draft on
which he was working with the Department of Safety and Security, he
had the wrong information and should have torn it up. But DSS' Mohammad
Bani-Faris issued a nearly identical letter five days later, saying
that the SRAs
would finally be done by the end of June.
Adlerstein's spokesman Werner Schmidt then
interjected, that because
this reporter "didn’t unfortunately attend this meeting, So he didn’t
that Bruno Henn say that security risk assessments have been done
If Bruno Henn said that, it is contradicted by
Bani-Faris' letter. Mr.
Henn, as noted, issued only a "no comment" when asked about it on his
way out. There is a need, at a minimum,
for a press
At UN, a statute is toppled: democracy and
transparency around the corner?
Instead, there is a notice for another town hall meeting, by the
Office of Human Resources Management, which some staffers are surprised
requires one to in advance confirm or reject attendance. Adlerstein now
says his future town hall meeting(s) are wide open. He also said,
according to attendees, that "stuff happens." They say he has a new
nickname: Michael "Stuff Happens" Adlerstein. Watch this space.
Footnotes: Inner City
informed by multiple sources that Department of Management chief Angela
who previously in response to simple questions responded in
writing that she
has no time to answer queries from the Press, just ask them at the
briefing, is now "vivid" at reporting on complaints about her unit's
actions on relocation under the Capital Master Plan, suspension of the
Competitive Exam and mis-management
of the UN Medical Service. A representative
of Ms. Kane's office made loud inquiries into the UN's media
process, what are the criteria for being accredited as a reporter.
Counter-question is what are the criteria for being
accredited as an
Under Secretary General, if when surrounded by controversy one refuses
answer press questions, hasn't held a press conference in months, and
retaliate against what little press coverage is given to the Department
Management. Ban Ki-moon today praised the press for holding accountable
who exercise power. Apparently, as with the USGs who refuse to make
public financial disclosure, Ban's message has not been received.
Perhaps, just as Mr. Adlerstein on Thursday said he
didn't know that his
spokesman Werner Schmidt directed UN Security to remove the Press from
town hall meeting, Ms. Kane will say she didn't know that her staff
implicitly threatening the Press that reports on the Department of
Then again, Ms.
Kane is the one who proposed driving up costs for the press at
the UN to make reporting on the organization more difficult.
At UN, Meeting on
Billion-Dollar Rehab Plan Closed to the Press, Safety Questions
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
May 7 -- As the UN spends billions of dollars on renovations with a
general contractor Skanska embroiled in litigation about mishandling
asbestos, its Capital Master Plan director Michael Adlerstein through
his spokesman on Monday ordered security officers to eject a reporter
from a “Town Hall Meeting” about the CMP. Adlerstein is under
fire for having claimed that the litigation against Skanska doesn't
exist, and for the claim that required Security Risk Assessments were
either not required or were already done. In a letter delivered May
5, but dated April 23, Adlerstein acknowledged that the Security Risk
Assessment are belatedly being done, to be finished, he wrote, by the
end of June.
At Thursday meeting, senior UN Security officials arrived late at 1:45
pm. They are waiting for you, another officer told them. It is said
that Adlerstein is trying to explain his own mis-statement by laying
the entire blame on the UN Safety and Security Service, specifically on
In the brief
portion of the meeting observed by this reporter prior to the
ejection directed by Adlerstein's spokesman Werner Schmidt,
Adlerstein narrated a slide about the reduction in service in the UN
cafeteria. Monday, workers in the cafeteria complained to Inner City
Press that they that day received notice of layoffs starting on
August 2, with no relocation or retraining. They contrasts this
treatment at the UN to what governments around the world are going
during the financial crisis.
CMP announced on lawn, UN
photo says Adlerstein there
and the CMP, are overseen by the UN Department of Management, headed
by Angela Kane, who is being questioned by staff and even member
states these days on issues ranging from irregularities in the UN
Medical Service she oversees through now triple confirmed attempts to
keep her unit inside the UN compound during the CMP and force other
units to move twice, to the suspension of the National
Competitive Exam, one of the few merit-based ways that applicants
from under-represented countries can work for the UN.
UN staff member on Thursday told Inner City Press that since Germany
is over-represented, it and Angela Kane, who he called a German
national, favor the suspension of the NCE. Another said
that when Germans took the test, their over-representation led to
throwing out of some results. Another has chimed in noting that there
are over 400 people "on the roster." But the reality is, hirings and
"regularization" are being done for those hired outside the NCE, from
Ms. Kane has said she has no time to
answer questions, that all these should be asked at the UN's noon
briefing. There, however, a limitation on the number of questions
that can be asked appears to be in place.
so, at the noon briefing
of May 6, Inner City Press asked
City Press: a letter has emerged from Mr. Adlerstein of the Capital
Master Plan confirming something that had been earlier, I think,
denied by the Secretariat that these security risk assessments that
were supposed to be produced for the swing spaces and for this
building, in fact have not been produced. But now they claim they
will be done by the end of June. What’s the explanation of the
earlier statement that these were either done or were not necessary?
And there is a reference to the CEB meeting of 4 April in one of the
letters. Can you confirm that this issue came up and how does this
Spokesperson: I cannot
confirm it at this point. I can ask, of course, Mr.
Adlerstein to answer your question.
More than 24
hours later, no answer had been provided. And then Adlerstein through
his spokesman had UN Security eject the Press from covering his "Town
While Adlerstein, Kane and the UN's Ban Ki-moon administration have
claimed to be transparent, the ejection of Press trying to cover
essentially public comments about the billions of dollars the UN is
proposing to spend is a new low. Watch this site.
of 1:58 p.m. -- as another UN correspondent has said, since the Capital
Master Plan impacts everyone who works here, including the press, it is
particularly inappropriate to close the CMP "town hall" meeting to the
press who work here....
of 2:16 p.m., still outside the meeting room -- given his CMP chief's
exclusion of the Press from a meeting the sign for which didn't even
say "Closed," it seems more than a little ironic that earlier on May 7
-- and May 6 on Park Avenue -- Ban Ki-moon praised the press, and even
"bloggers," for "holding authorities to account."
of 2:29 p.m. -- it emerges that even though the UN has not done the
Security Risk Assessments, it has already moved staff to 380 Madison
Avenue, starting on April 27...
of 2:59 p.m. -- While SSS's Bruno Henn, leaving the meeting, said "no
comment" to Inner City Press, after another wait Inner City Press spoke
with both Werner Schmidt and Michael Adlerstein. The former maintained
that the press had to be excluded, saying "you wouldn't want staff in
the press briefing room, would you?" Inner City Press said it had
no problem with that, and asked when Adlerstein would hold a press
conference. While that wasn't answered, Adlerstein said, "you are
invited to the next town hall meeting." We will continue to
follow this story, short- and long-term.
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