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UN After School Program, Closed on 2 Days Notice, May Re-Open by Fall, DSG

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 -- Two weeks after Inner City Press last asked about the UN's closure of its after school program on only two days notice to parents, on which it exclusively reported in June, the UN on Thursday provided an interim update: attempts to replace the program continue.

On July 14, Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq

Inner City Press: a question I was trying to ask you that was related to my UN Women’s question — it is whether you can confirm that Qatar offered $100 million to have the headquarters of UN Women be in the State of Qatar? Maybe you can ask Ms. Migiro, and you could also ask Ms. Migiro if there is any update on the closure on two days’ notice of the UN’s after-school program, whether any alternate space has been found?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: I think we have already shared with you the information that we have on that particular program.

Inner City Press: What did you share? That it be closed?

Associate Spokesperson: We had provided the information about that and our basic concerns having to do with safety in construction zones.

Inner City Press: And in her briefing she said alternative space is being sought.

Associate Spokesperson: Yes.

Inner City Press: I’m just asking, has it been found?

Associate Spokesperson: No, not so far, no.

Two weeks later, the UN Spokesperson's Office has provided this update:

Following your earlier questions about the after-school program at UN Headquarters, we have the following information to share:

The Deputy Secretary-General is aware of the distress this decision has caused to the affected parents and is cognizant of the concerns expressed by many of their UN colleagues.

DSG Migiro, DM's Kane and OHRM's Pollard, after school not yet shown

The Secretary-General remains fully committed to achieving a work-life balance at the UN; it is within this context and on his behalf that the DSG therefore requested the Department of Management last month to actively seek alternatives and to further explore options to continue the programme.

The Office of Human Resources Management have since met with representatives of the affected parents, and held discussions with representatives from the UN International School, to discuss the feasibility of certain alternative options.

Whilst a solution is still outstanding, the DSG is hopeful that the consultations will bear fruit soon, and prior to the resumption of the new school term.

Under-Secretary-General Angela Kane is giving this matter priority attention and the SG has asked that relevant stakeholders be kept informed on progress.

  So, while no solution has yet as of the end of July been found to the closure on two days notice, one is hoped for by the UN before the beginning of the school year. We'll see.

Since the above is an update, we highlight another one, about hiring

Footnote: For DSG Migiro, as of July 29, her daily schedule in the Spokesperson's Office will list her as attending the already consulted African Union summit in Kampala. Even with her away, her office has been used, Inner City Press has learned, by the deputy chief of staff to conduct interviews for posts -- on information and belief, for the chief of UN Women. Watch this site.

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UN Closes Day Care on Two Day Notice, Offers Gender Entity Post to Rwandan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 22 -- As the UN talks about establishing a new "Gender Entity," offering the top post first to Chile's Michelle Bachelet and now a Rwandan minister, Inner City Press is told, it has this month unceremoniously eliminated the after school day care it for years had offered to staff.

  "It's hypocrisy," says one impacted working mother. "They talk about work life balance and advancing women, then cut this program on only two days' notice."

  The day care, in the UN Secretariat building, was discontinued on June 18. The impacted parent only learned of it on June 16, too late to put up a fight. The rationale is that with the UN's renovation, the day care could only continue out in the "real" New York west of 1st Avenue, where permits would be required.

UN's Ban and Ms. Bachelet, closure of UN day care not shown

  On June 22 the UN posted this notice on its intranet:

After-school recreation and study programme for United Nations children Posted: Tuesday, 22 June 2010, New York | Author: Department of Management

Because the UN Secretariat building is currently a construction zone, it is not possible to house the After-school Recreation and Study Programme on the premises due to lack of available space. Therefore, we regret to announce, ST/IC/2010/17, that we are not in a position to offer the Programme as of the end of the 2009/2010 school year, and we regret any inconvenience that this will cause to parents.

If we were to move the Programme to a rented building, we would be subject to New York City laws and code compliance. In reality, this means that the children participating in the Programme would have to be housed preferably on the ground floor, but not above the third floor. The child care space would also have to meet a number of other code requirements including certain exit criteria and access to play areas. Such a space is not available at this time. In addition, the operator of this service would have to be fully licensed and certified.

  Several readers found the UN's admission that has been below code compliance, and less safe than certified, strange. They point out, for example, that in the UN's DC-1 building on 44th Street and 1st Avenue there is a barely used room next to the third floor cafeteria. "They just don't think this is important," the working mother said. "And yet they're naming a new Gender Entity." She laughed, but bitterly. Watch this site.

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At UN, Adlerstein as "Slumlord," Forced Relocation in the End, Ceiling Collapse Confirmed, Asbestos Denied but not Tested

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 28, updated -- Alongside the sealing off of the UN Conference 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.

The chief of the UN Capital Master Plan Michael Adlerstein has written:

"In the event that you do not pack your materials as requested, we will 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."

Unlike anywhere 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 Press.

Adlerstein's 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.

Downstairs in the 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 back.

Moving, like it or not: garbage cart, Adlerstein as locksmith not shown

  A 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 this site.

Update of 1 p.m. -- from the UN, on one of eight questions:

Subject: response to your first question from CMP
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
Date: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 12:09 PM
To: Inner City Press

1. 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 available?

Response: 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.

To be continued.

* * *

In UN, Adlerstein Demands Departure of Staff Union, CMP Won't Disclose Luggage Building Lease Length

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED 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.

A 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.

  But 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 elevators to 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

  Meanwhile, in the 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 of the UN's lease of the 42nd Street "Innovation Luggage" building.

  CMP's genial spokesman says this is because it was the UN "Facilities Management Service" that rented the Luggage Building, and not the CMP. Why?

  Inner City 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.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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