2012 News Releases
June 7, 2012
Zita Allen, Communications
DC 37 calls mayor's 2013 budget a shift of public dollars to private contractors and impending layoffs retribution for citing millions lost in fraudlent contracts. Urges City council to stop all layoffs
DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts calls budget “anti-family” in City Council testimony slamming cuts to day care, libraries, cultural institutions and city school workers while engaging in numerous wasteful, fraudulent contracts.
New York, N.Y. – Testifying before the New York City Council Wednesday, June 6, DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts and Associate Director Henry Garrido criticized Mayor Bloomberg for “relentlessly privatizing public services and City programs.” The Mayor’s 2013 Budget “contained bad news for thousands of hard-working public servants and vital City programs, including our public libraries, our cultural institutions and the thousands of children depending on City funded day care,” they charged.
Roberts called the budget “anti-family” citing proposals to cut 14,000 day care slots “meaning thousands of working parents will face an agonizing dilemma – needing to work but unable to afford safe, affordable child care that the City has funded.” Denouncing Schools Chancellor Dennis Wolcott’s “surprise” announcement that the Department of Education (DOE) was considering laying off “an additional 200+ school support staff, “ Roberts told the City Council the school hardest hit, would be “primarily in minority school districts” which have already lost nearly 1,000 school aides, parent coordinators and other support titles in a year. Huge cuts to libraries and cultural institutions were “called a senseless decision when tourism brings in over 50 million visitors annually and generates hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Lashing out at the impact of a number of recent budget actions, Roberts noted that the October 2011 layoff of 642 School Aides and Parent Coordinators, hurt minority school districts in some of the City’s poorest neighborhoods, and itemized other recent budget actions, including:
- Proposed cuts of $30 million to cultural institutions – drivers of the City’s important tourist industry and generator of thousands of jobs.
- Proposed cuts of over $90 million to the City’s library systems – nearly 1 of every 3 dollars – which would lead to as many as 1,000 member jobs lost and the crippling of three of the City’s most important institutions
Despite this and the fact that thousands of public servants have lost their jobs since 2009, union leaders pointed out that the Mayor continued to pursue a policy of privatizing public services and City programs, eliminating decent jobs and driving billions of dollars annually to private contractors who are accountable to no one.
The list of recent notorious examples of waste—and theft – of taxpayers’ dollars included: Future Technology Associates ($7.9 million), Lanham Contract services ($4.5 million), Dyntek Services ($450,000), Sperion ($80 million); Technodyne ($11 million) SEEDCO ($7 million) and Science Applications International Corporation (“CityTime”) and Science Applications International Corp. ($466 million).
DC 37 Associate Director Henry Garrido noted, “That’s a total of $580 million defrauded from the City” adding that NYC Comptroller John Liu’s recent audit of the City’s 911 call system provided yet another example of the waste and fraud that can result from unchecked contracting out. Comptroller Liu’s audit found that the contractor selected to streamline the City‘s vital 911 call system was unqualified and that the project was so poorly monitored by the City that contractor Hewlett Packard was able to overbill taxpayers by as much as $163 million, with the project now $362 million over its original budget. The severity of the findings and potential for fraud in both the vendor selection and billing processes, have caused Comptroller Liu to refer the matter to the Manhattan District Attorney‘s Office for further review. This followed on the heels of a previous audit released by Comptroller Liu in March that found the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP) had only one component up and running, was seven years behind schedule, and a billion dollars over budget.
“These more recent cases of massive waste of taxpayer money indicate that the CityTime scandal was not an isolated incident,” Garrido said. “Yet, the City continues to be cheated by outside contractors, at a time when the Mayor’s budget proposes further devastating cuts to programs, services and workers. All taxpayers should be outraged at the waste of money and at the Mayor’s business as usual attitude at what has transpired under his watch.”
Roberts said it was “unconscionable” that New York’s Mayor refuses to use money received as restitution, like the $466 million from the CityTime settlement, to restore programs and services and hire any of the laid off City workers, particularly since unemployment in New York is near 9 percent overall, higher than the national average.
Citing another unmonitored wasteful practice, Roberts said, “The City gives away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks annually to entities that are not entitled to them. Eliminate this giveaway, enforce the laws and there would be more than enough money to restore City programs and services and hire back laid off City workers.
Layoffs cost taxpayers, too, Roberts noted saying that of the nearly 1,700 DC 37 workers laid off in the past few years, the union estimates the cost to the City, on an annualized basis has been $45 million annually in lost wages and $115 million annually in lost economic activity within the City of New York, representing hundreds if not thousands of jobs. This is in addition to the cost that the City must pay in Medicare, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs for which these now unemployed – and sometimes destitute – members must apply.
Roberts announced the results of a recent DC 37 survey of members who had been laid off saying, “A staggering 86 percent remain unemployed with the time out of work ranging from 3 months to 2 years. Sixteen percent have been out of work 2 or more years.
“It makes no sense to lay off workers in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Roberts said. “Ample funds exist to adequately fund City services and hire back laid off workers. The City Council has the statutory authority to impose its own priorities on the City budget – take a far harder look at contracting out, end wasteful outsourcing, fund adequately the program and services vital to New Yorkers and restore the jobs of hard-working, dedicated public servants. We at DC 37 urge the Council to ACT NOW.”
District Council 37 is New York City’s largest public employee union, with 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees.