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
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.
Admits Risk Assessments Not
Done, Top Brass Jostle For Position
Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 5, updated -- Despite the massive
funds raised for it, the UN's
Capital Master Plan has an amateur quality to it. Most recently, CMP
Michael Adlerstein back-dated a letter in which he implicitly takes
back an earlier
claim that all necessary Security Risk Assessments had already been
Meanwhile, Adlerstein's boss Angela Kane of the
Department of Management
is said to be making a play to avoid relocation across First Avenue,
telling the Outreach Division of the UN's Department of Public
it should relinquish its space in the library to Kane, and instead be
Sources tell Inner City Press this shows a double
standard: workers at the UN are impacted
-- fired in the cafeteria, relocated even now in other units -- while
purported leaders seek special benefits and do not, as Secretary
Ki-moon once promised, "lead by example."
Mr. Ban on Tuesday gave a press conference largest
about the UN's
on Gaza and, as asked by Inner City Press, Sri Lanka (click here
for that). But
when asked about how often he is away from Headquarters, Ban said that
spends a lot of time managing the UN.
But why then, for example, has there been little
action taken on the expose
of controlled substance irregularities in the UN Medical Service?
UN's Ban and Angela Kane, Risk Assessments
and relocations not shown
Why is the head of security David Veness still
in place a year after he resigned after the bombing of the UN in
Source say Veness has been told to clean up the mess caused by the lack
assessment. Veness has passed it on to Mohammad Bani-Faris, who asked
to sign a letter responding to criticism. Adlerstein did not want to
Bani-Faris sent the letter himself on April 28, click here to view.
Then -- perhaps after Inner
City Press' May 4 report of Adlerstein blaming UN Security --
on May 5 a letter from Adlerstein surfaced, back-dated, the Staff Union alleges, to April 23, click here
to view, with near-identical language to Bani-Faris' April 28 missive.
some laugh at this chaos, others don't -- for example, the food service
in the cafeteria who were unceremoniously told this week that layoffs
August 2. They were still grumbling on Tuesday -- click here for
Press' article on Monday -- and asking about others being impacted.
for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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