New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito allegedly wanted a “Spanish manager” at Mill Brook Houses in the Mott Haven section of The Bronx, according to a lawsuit.
As first reported by the New York Daily News, the New York City Housing Authority’s then-director of Optimal Property Management Department Sibyl Colon said the Council speaker confronted the manager of Mill Brook, Allison Williams, about not being fluent in Spanish. When Williams, who’s Black, said that she goes to a language bank of on-call translators for help, Viverito called it “unacceptable.”
Williams told her side of the story to the AmNews.
“I thought, ‘Oh, she’s not going to be there. She’s not going to come to the little meeting,’” said Williams of the meeting that took place at the Council speaker’s Bronx office at 214 St. Ann’s Ave., July 30, 2015. “I was surprised she was there. I’m waiting for the agenda to be given out to everyone and there was no agenda.”
According to Williams, that’s when the Council speaker asked her how she treated her Spanish tenants.
“I’m thinking, ‘Why is she asking me that?’” said Williams. “I’ve been here forever and I’ve never had a problem with Latino residents. I said to her that we have a language bank. She said, ‘That’s unacceptable,’ real nasty like.”
Williams then said that she also told Viverito that she sometimes goes to the maintenance department downstairs to find someone who speaks Spanish. The Council speaker, allegedly, also called that “unacceptable.”
“I was very uncomfortable,” said Williams. “If I was younger, I would’ve said a few things to her.” A representative for the Council speaker emailed a statement to the AmNews saying, “This lawsuit is ridiculous, has no merit and is a complete waste of taxpayers’ time and money. We are confident all claims against the speaker will be dismissed off the bat.” But Colon also spoke to the AmNews and backs up Williams’ claims. She also talked about how tough it’s been for her since she stepped down from her post with NYCHA.
“I was unemployed for quite a while, so that was very stressful,” said Colon. “But I finally secured employment in June of this year. So there’s been some financial struggles.”
According to Colon, after the meeting, she was constantly contacted by the higher ups at NYCHA asking if Williams was replaced yet.
“Where are we with the transfer of the Mill Brook?” Colon and her lawyer, Marcel Florestal, alleged she was asked via emails. “Have you gotten rid of the manager from Mill Brook yet?”
Williams continues to manage Mill Brook Houses.
Colon said her complaint against NYCHA and the Council speaker is “100 percent accurate and valid.” Colon also said it was the first time in 30 years of working for the housing authority that she had ever been in a politician’s office.
A representative from NYCHA said, given the diverse population of public housing in the city, “Providing language access to our residents is crucial. We are committed to ensuring meaningful access to language services for all residents at all of our developments.”
“When I filed the suit, I wanted to make sure it included gravitas,” said Florestal to the AmNews. “I included emails between Cybil and various third parties at NYCHA. We also have audiotape between Cybil and other parties discussing the matter.
“They can say all they want, but the facts will come out,” said Florestal. “Let them try to explain away those emails.”
Florestal told the AmNews that he expects court proceedings to last less than a month. “When it comes to litigation, the city is notorious for waiting until the last minute to settle,” he said. “But there’s so many parties involved that there’s a lot to lose. I hope it goes the distance, because I want people to see the ugly side of politics.”
Marcel Florestal and local activist Tony Herbert talk to the media.
The mother of a sixth-grader who says she was nearly gang-raped twice in the basement of her Brooklyn charter accused school officials Thursday of dismissing her daughter’s first attack as insignificant.
“The school told me it was a little sexual incident inside the school. They didn’t go into full detail. Then I found out from the media after she was almost raped, twice inside the school,” said the mom, who talked to the press with her lawyer, Marcel Florestal, outside Brooklyn Family Court, where one of the young suspects was believed to be at a closed hearing.
The mom said she learned via news reports that three boys, ages 14, 13 and 12, had been arrested for attempted rape and grand larceny in the Sept. 30 incident at Ocean Hill Collegiate Charter.
Florestal said the school had videos of the incidents and believes a fourth perpetrator is still at large.
Bruno Tedeshi, a spokesman for the school insists staff acted in a timely and appropriate manner.
“The school called the student’s mother immediately after it learned of the incident, which occurred well after students had been dismissed from the building and after the building should have been locked by School Safety. The school has been cooperating fully with the investigation, and has been supporting the student and her mother during this difficult time.”
BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn — A 12-year old girl who was allegedly attacked and robbed in the basement of her Brownsville school last week is speaking out on the horrific incident.
Three Brooklyn boys are facing attempted rape, attempted sex abuse, robbery and other charges after they allegedly attacked the girl inside Mott Hall IV Middle School last Thursday, police said.
The boys, ages 12 and 14, took the girl into a stairwell in the basement of the school, lowered her pants, then sexually assaulted and robbed her, police said.
"I was trying to get security and fighting back," the girl told PIX11 News on Thursday.
The attack was caught on surveillance cameras inside the school building, a source said.
The principal called police, and two of the boys, ages 12 and 14, were arrested Thursday. Another 12-year-old boy was arrested Monday.
"I want those boys prosecuted and I want the school held accountable," the girl's mother, Nicole Welcome, told PIX11 News.
The family said what happened to the girl happened more than one time. They hired an attorney to file a lawsuit.
Toya Holness, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said in a statement:
"We are working closely with the NYPD as they conduct an investigation, and are providing the school and families with ongoing support. Nothing is more important than the safety of all students and staff."
One of the three boys appeared in family court Thursday in a private hearing.
NYPD Clergy Liason Bishop David Maldonado, Jr., community advocate Tony Herbert, NYCHA Mill Brook Houses property Manager Allison Williams and attorney for NYCHA workers Marcel Forrester. (JEFFERSON SIEGEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
Mayor de Blasio's Human Rights Commission has been asked to investigate allegations that City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pressured NYCHA to replace a black development manager in the Bronx with a “Spanish manager.”
Community activist Tony Herbert announced Monday he’d demanded probes from the commission, as well as the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and city Department of Investigation.
“What we don’t need is someone creating dissension between African-Americans and Hispanics in this day and age,” Herbert said.