UN, Adlerstein as "Slumlord," Forced Relocation in the End,
Ceiling Collapse Confirmed, Asbestos Denied but not Tested
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 28, updated -- Alongside the sealing off of the UN
Building, a new ceiling collapse in the General Assembly basement and
relentlessly upbeat storytelling by the UN about happy staffers and
even reporters in their new swing space, as in many refugee
situations it all comes down to force.
chief of the UN
Capital Master Plan Michael Adlerstein has written:
the event that you do not pack your materials as requested,
arrange for your material to be packed and relocated to the Alcoa
space during the weekend of 29-31 May 2010. In either event,
telephone and computer connections will be relocated ... this
weekend, and the locks will be changed at your old office in the
Secretariat on Friday night. On Tuesday morning June 1, you will not
be allowed to enter your former offices."
else in New York or most real estate situation, there is no
possibility of appeal or any outside review. "It's like a threat
from a slumlord," one reader of the letter told Inner City
letter reflects that Information Technology staff are, in fact,
remaining in the Secretariat high rise. It is unclear when they will
be moved to the basement of the North Lawn building.
basement, workers at UN Television report they will be moved upstairs
"to where Verbatim used to be" -- that is, the Department
of General Assembly and Conference Management staff who were moved to
the bedbug ridden Albano Building swing space will not be coming
Moving, like it or not: garbage cart, Adlerstein as
locksmith not shown
series of CMP
related questions have been sent this morning to the spokespeople for
the Secretary General and for the CMP, including about yet another
ceiling collapse in the General Assembly lobby, the reported charging
of admission to see a film inside the UN, frozen and missing video
monitors and the future of the US Post Office inside the UN. Watch
of 1 p.m. -- from the UN, on one of eight questions:
response to your first question from CMP
From: UN Spokesperson -
Do Not Reply
Fri, May 28, 2010 at 12:09 PM
To: Inner City Press
There is another ceiling collapse in front of the gift shop, in the
public area of the UN.? Has the UN done testing to confirm that there
is not asbestos being released in the vicinity of visitors, including
children?? When were the tests done, and will the UN make them
Approximately 10 sf of plaster have fallen down near the Gift Shop.
The plaster in that area had to be replaced a few times before due to
a recurring leakage problem. This plaster does not contain asbestos.
* * *
UN, Adlerstein Demands Departure of Staff Union, CMP Won't Disclose
Luggage Building Lease Length
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 26 -- As the UN surrounds
its iconic skyscraper with a
blue plywood construction fence, inside a battle is brewing. The UN
Staff Union, with its longtime offices on the fifth floor, has yet to
be moved out. Capital Master Plan chieftain Michael Adlerstein
ordered them to leave on May 21 and again on May 24, but they did
not. He rejected their reasons, and has commanded that they will
move, like it or not.
visit to the
fifth floor on May 26 found moving boxes sitting empty. Construction
workers with hardhats passed through the hall, from working out on
the roof. Staff Union officials described their back and forth with
Adlerstein's envoy Ken Champion, who they say was reasonable.
finally, when they asked how their staffer would be put in harm's
way, Champion returned to say that Adlerstein said no, it didn't
matter, they would move. He argued that they are costing the UN
money, to continue services to the floor.
the 5th floor still works, but will not stop at 3, 4, 6, 8-12, 14 and
15. The information technology workers further upstairs will remain
for the foreseeable future, until their functions can be "migrated"
to the basement of the new North Lawn building. Great planning.
As UN empties, Union and IT workers remaining not shown
wake of Inner City Press' report that
the Capital Master Plan's lease
on the Albano "swing space" building on 46th Street runs
for a full ten years, the CMP has declined to disclose the length
the UN's lease of the 42nd Street "Innovation Luggage"
says this is because it was the UN "Facilities Management
Service" that rented the Luggage Building, and not the CMP. Why?
Press is told by a well placed UN official that the CMP
was only authorized to lease a certain number of square feet of swing
space. Due to bad planning, much more is necessary. And so the
additional lease is run through FMS. But how? Where does this money
suddenly appear (and disappear) from? Watch this site.
* * *
UN Renovation, Stealth Long Leases and No
Right to Return, Adlerstein's Rules
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 20 -- When the UN began its Capital Master Plan
renovation, it rented office space into which staff from its
Secretariat building would be temporarily relocated for the three
years of construction. An entire structure on 46th Street, the Albano
Building, was rented. Since then, as exclusively reported by Inner
City Press, bedbugs
have been found in the building, the elevators
and often heating and air conditioning don't work.
May 20, Inner
City Press asked CMP chief Michael Adlerstein about these problems,
about a leaked
memo, and to confirm that the UN has in fact rented the Albano
at least ten years, much longer than the construction project at the
this mean that
the UN staff in Albano, from the Department of General Assembly and
Conference Management, would not have a "right to return"
to their offices in the Secretariat? By implication, would the press
corps not return to the third and fourth floor, but perhaps remain in
the "whistleblower free zone" in the cubicles over the UN
library? Video here,
from Minute 32:05.
confirmed that the lease the UN signed on the Albano Building is for
at least ten years, and that it is not certain that DGACM staff will
return to the Secretariat. There are discussions, he said, with every
Under Secretary General, which will be resolved in thirty to sixty
to the press
corp, Adlerstein first said that there would be a right to return,
somewhere between the first and seventh floors. Video here,
Minute 48:39. After more questioning, he said the press would return
to the third and fourth floors. Video here,
from Minute 55:35.
that most equipment in the Albano building is new, and therefore
should work. He said the elevators might have to be replaced. While
he did not address the bedbugs, he alluded to a town hall meeting
that Inner City Press has asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about.
(Transcript is below.)
learned, not from the UN spokesperon's office but meeting participants,
during the session it was admitted that the UN signed a contract with
cleaners that had no provision for recycling. Staff asked for bike
racks, including under a New York City law. In fact, the question of
inadequate bike racks at the Secretariat building has been raised of
late to Spokesman Nesirky, who says he has spoken with USG Kane.
has asked Adlerstein's CMP office how long the leases at the Teachers
and Innovation Luggage swing space buildings are, and will report the
answers later. An official of the UN Advisory Committee on
Administrative and Budgetary Questions approached Inner City Press
later on Thursday and expressed concern about the "stealth"
long lease on the Albano Building, adding that he's heard the CMP is
over budget. Adlerstein says he'll report in the Fall. Again, we'll
Adlerstein on Thursday mentioned the creation of a CMP Advisory
Committee. While little has been said of this new body, a UN photo
(below) shows its leader, Kent Barwick. What do he and the other
undepicted members think of the long leases and the right to return?
UN's Ban, Kane and Adlerstein and Kent
Barwick, advise on right to return not shown
after his press conference, Adlerstein accompanied four reporters
including Inner City Press to the space outside the Security Council,
which in April was contested regarding where the press could and
could not go.
apparently never heard how it was resolved. He said to Inner City
Press, not joking, that "I don't want to be giving prerogatives
for you to be wandering around just because I'm here. It's an abuse
of the invitation to come here and understand your needs...not to
give you an opportunity to wander around. I do feel it's abusive."
where Inner City
Press was walking is an area permitted to the Press. Apparently
Adlerstein thinks or wishes it were not so -- for the three, or five,
or is it ten years, it's Adlerstein's UN. Given what Robert Moses did
with unaccountable public authorities, one wag could only imagine what
will be done with an immune international body.
Adlerstein was asked to "take
down this wall" to allow greater transparency as to who is
entering the Security Council. I can't promise anything, he
responded. Why are we not surprised? We will continue to follow the
CMP -- watch this site.
May 19 transcript:
City Press: you never got back to me on the Albano building. I
understand there was a town hall meeting yesterday about not only
bedbugs but various construction problems within the building. There
was some criticism of Skanska’s performance and Ms. [Angela] Kane
and a number of them participated. And they also had said that the
Albano building has been leased for 10 years, even though the rehab
here is supposed to only take five. I am just wondering, I mean, I
can break this down into questions, or I am wondering if, following
the memo that came out of Mr.Shaaban Shaaban, do you have anything on
this? Is there a UN description of why these staff concerns are
Nesirky: Actually, to the contrary, staff concerns are taken
extremely seriously. I know that there was indeed a staff meeting, a
town hall meeting — however you would like to describe it. I do
not have a readout from that and I am sure that we can get something
City Press: Some people working there, they said that when they moved
to Albano they thought they would be returning to the Secretariat
building where they always worked, and that they have now essentially
been told that they will stay in Albano even after the building is
fixed. So this is obviously, and I know in the press corps not to
get too… there are some concerns that the press will remain above
the library and never return to the third or fourth floor. Who is
actually making the decisions of how space will be allocated in the
building when it is fixed?
Nesirky: Let’s find out. I do not know the specific answer to
that. Some of these matters could indeed be raised with Mr.
Alderstein tomorrow, although, obviously, he has a mandate to fix the
building rather than to allocate space after that.
City Press: To the degree that he can’t answer about this, what
they are calling restacking or how space will be allocated, maybe Ms.
Kane could come or give another briefing.
Let’s find out what we can do. I fully appreciate the interest
that there is in the building and the virtual headquarters that is
across different parts of Manhattan at the moment.