Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

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


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On UN Security Risk Assessments, Briefing Differs from Letter, the Wrath of Kane

Byline: Matthew 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 Plan, the 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 Conference Room 3 didn't say the meeting was closed. CMP chief Michael Adlerstein's spokesman Werner Schmidt asked two of Bruno Henn's officers to remove this report from the room.

  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 be finished until the end of June.

 Adlerstein said the letter was a draft on which he was working with the Department of Safety and Security, he decided 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 hear that Bruno Henn say that security risk assessments have been done already."

   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 conference.

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 to see 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 Press is informed by multiple sources that Department of Management chief Angela Kane, 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 noon briefing, is now "vivid" at reporting on complaints about her unit's actions on relocation under the Capital Master Plan, suspension of the National 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 accreditation 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 to answer press questions, hasn't held a press conference in months, and tries to retaliate against what little press coverage is given to the Department of Management. Ban Ki-moon today praised the press for holding accountable those who exercise power. Apparently, as with the USGs who refuse to make even basic 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 the CMP town hall meeting, Ms. Kane will say she didn't know that her staff were implicitly threatening the Press that reports on the Department of Management. 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. Management, indeed...


At UN, Meeting on Billion-Dollar Rehab Plan Closed to the Press, Safety Questions

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

UNITED NATIONS, 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 Bruno Henn.

   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

  These issues, 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.

   A well-placed 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 the field.

   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.

 Even so, at the noon briefing of May 6, Inner City Press asked

Inner 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 impact...[interrupted]?

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 Hall" meeting.

News analysis: 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.

Update 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....

Update 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."

Update 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...

Update 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.

  Click here for a new YouTube 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.

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -