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UN Security and Capital Master Plan Slammed for Bloat, Retaliation Starts, Flooding

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- The UN's Department of Safety and Security, already embroiled in a scandal about pre-decided promotions, was slammed was wasteful in a recent report on the Capital Master Plan. Urging that the 108 new security jobs requested for the UN's renovation be scaled back, the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) said that "their number could be reduced....the resources requested for training could be further reduced [by] forty percent."  A/63/736.

  As Inner City Press has exclusively reported, the current head of security for UN Headquarters, of whom the Staff Union has adopted a resolution of no-confidence, is said to be trying to shift to the Capital Master Plan. His ally Albert Lyttle, the author of the pre-selected promotion memo which Inner City Press obtained and put online last month, has lashed out at Staff Union representatives, in a letter which Inner City Press is putting online here.  Inner City Press held off publishing this letter, but in light of reports of retaliation against whistleblowers, silence seems the wrong approach.

  The letter concerns the meetings at which the vote of no-confidence was taken. Its claim of defamation seems tenuous at best. As one observer put it, if your own document defames you, the only one you have to sue is yourself.

  Inner City Press asked the Capital Master Plan spokesman if the head of SSS was trying for a post with the CMP.  He answered, "there are no posts." But there are many posts proposed, to the UN's Fifth Committee. While ACABQ has proposed to scale back by 40%, several posts will still exist. Watch this site.

As CMP builds on North Lawn, nowhere to hide for DSS?

  In other responses to Inner City Press' questions, the CMP's spokesman tersely replied

Q1. -- Mayor Bloomberg has issued a report on climate change which predicts rising temperatures and sea levels for New York City (see e.g.,  NYC is taking steps to prepare for a rise in the sea level between 7 and 23 inches, by among other things, raising water treatment equipment to higher ground.  Has the UN seen this report, and is the UN taking any steps in its CMP to mitigate against the threat of rising seas?

A1. -- The Climate Risk Information by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, released on 17 February 2009, identifies some of the potential risks to the critical infrastructure of New York City posed by climate change. The Office of the CMP has seen this report, and will review it to determine if design changes are needed.

Q2. -- Doesn't the UNHQ sometimes flood now?

A2. -- There is no flooding in the UNHQ caused by the proximity of the complex to the East River. 

Q3. -- What changes have you made to your plans to accommodate this?

A3. - See answer to Q1. 

Q4. -- Also if you could describe why the staff assistance area in the 42nd Street library was demolished yesterday? What else should be expected in the lobbies?

A4. -- The Volunteers Desk was moved from the Secretariat Lobby to the Visitors Lobby in the General Assembly Building, since the Secretariat Building will begin undergoing renovation later in the year.

Q5. -- Which UN functions are slated to move not to Madison Avenue or the Albano building, but to the building on the corner of 2nd and 42nd with Innovation Luggage (and a liquor store) on the ground floor? The Medical Service? What else?

A5. -- Although all our plans are subject to adjustments until the move occurs, at this time the Medical Service, staff from DGACM and DPI (Radio Section) are scheduled to move to 300 East 42nd Street.

Q6. -- Please provide an update on the status of the idea of charging the press rent or costs, in the swing space or upon return.

A6. -- The issue is presently under review within the Secretariat.

Q7. -- Are there positions within the CMP which the current head of DSS's SSS and his deputy are applying for? What would those positions be?

A7. -- There are currently no vacant positions within the CMP.

Q8. -- Has the CMP (or wider UN if you can comment on that) had any money in the financial institutions which have either been merged or received over $5 billion in TARP funds during this financial melt-down?

A8. -- This question should be directed to the UN Treasury.

  But the head of the office overseeing the UN Treasury, Angela Kane of the Department of Management, has since said she has no time to answer answers, and just to ask at the UN's noon briefing. Watch this site.

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate esp. here on Darfur

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

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

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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