Public Advocate Letitia James is fuming over Mayor de Blasio’s appointment of a “chief compliance officer” to his beleaguered Housing Authority, saying the move is nothing more than window-dressing — because the job already exists.
“We demand accountability and action beyond just checking a box,” James told The Post on Sunday.
“We need an independent monitor and a sweeping change in leadership” at NYCHA, she said.
A recent city Department of Investigation report said the Housing Authority failed to conduct required lead-paint testing for four years — and its chairwoman, Shola Olatoye, even lied to the feds about it.
At least two kids were lead poisoned due to a lapse in safety inspections on the mayor and Olatoye’s watch.
But de Blasio refused to boot Olatoye. Instead, he said he was forming a new “executive compliance department’’ — and named longtime bureaucrat Edna Wells Handy to lead it.
Handy will earn between $165,000 and $195,000 annually, according to NYCHA.
Her compliance department will handle “compliance training for NYCHA’s employees and the accuracy of external reporting by NYCHA,’’ according to a job description provided by City Hall.
According to the city’s Web site, NYCHA already employs a $150,000-a-year “director of internal audit who provides guidance and recommendations to NYCHA management on internal controls and risk management, and serves as liaison to federal, state and city entities with regard to external audits.”
An official in her office said James has been furious about teh mayor’s announcement of the new “window-dressing” post for the past week.
“She’s mad,” the official said. “She thinks it’s unacceptable.”
The Housing Authority defended the new post, claiming its new compliance unit and current audit department are “fundamentally distinct.”
“The role of the [chief compliance officer] is to understand NYCHA’s compliance obligations, to create processes to ensure compliance, and to monitor NYCHA’s ongoing performance,” Blake said.
“The role of the audit department will remain, as it has been, retrospective in nature. The audit department will continue to independently assess, after the fact, NYCHA’s compliance processes and, where appropriate, to recommend areas for improvement.”
James isn’t the only elected official to find fault with Hizzoner for the newly created position. The job also drew bi-partisan criticism from City Council members.
Bronx Councilman Rafael Salamanca, a member of the Public Housing committee, attacked the move as more of the same from Team de Blasio.
“This is not surprising,” he said. “Along with the massive problem of NYCHA not only being out of compliance but lying about it, there’s also a real problem with efficiency, transparency and accountability.”
Republican Councilman Joe Borelli hit the new job as an “internal redundancy” and joined the chorus of those calling for outside oversight.