Members of JPCA who were denied the opportunity to testify at the Queens public forum in June regarding the Department of Buildings were silenced yet again, this time at the meeting in Manhattan on the evening of December 4th.
Manny Caruana was called several times by the task force in weeks prior to the meeting and urged to attend. Tony Nunziato and Edward Kampermann joined him and again signed up to speak. They did this at 6:30pm and were among the first people to fill out cards. Once again, the meeting was run by Councilman James Oddo (R-Staten Island).
The meeting was called to order at 7:30pm. Close to forty speakers were allowed to testify, and most were allowed to prattle on much longer than the allotted 2 minutes. In addition, when other elected officials would waltz in late, their comments were pushed to the front of the agenda.
At 9:30pm, Councilman Oddo announced that those who were not called to testify would be given an e-mail address to write to. When JPCA members protested this second attempt to silence them, Councilman Oddo told them, "Have a nice ride back to Queens! Will the next Manhattan speaker please start their testimony." The meeting notice did not specify that only Manhattan speakers would be selected to testify.
JPCA Executive Board Member Manny Caruana, who also had signed up to speak, then shouted, "You have a conflict of interest! You take money from the real estate industry and developers who are destroying our communities – how can you claim to represent us?" Several people, including an architect, followed Manny outside and told him how much they agreed with him and thanked him for speaking out.
Meanwhile, inside, Councilman Oddo apologized to the crowd for losing his temper, stating, "I'm sorry, but those people from Queens make my Sicilian blood boil!"
Let us remind our readers that Councilman Oddo worked for Councilman Ognibene back in the 1990s, and is very close friends with a very paranoid councilman named Dennis Gallagher. It therefore comes as no surprise that Oddo would be doing Gallagher's anti-JPCA dirty work for him. Oddo was so brazen as to tell a speaker, "When you get elected to office then you can make the rules." Apparently Mr. Oddo has forgotten that he now makes a 6-figure salary paid for with our tax dollars.
Councilman Oddo owes the people of Maspeth and Middle Village an apology for twice denying their representatives the opportunity to publicly testify about the Department of Buildings and for essentially dismissing the DOB concerns of people from Queens. Of course, we aren't holding our breath waiting for one!
Check out some of Councilman Oddo's campaign contributions from his 2005 race and see if you think that Manny Caruana hit a nerve with his comments.
Write to Oddo here: