THE HEZITORIAL INVESTIGATION
By HEZI ARIS
Joe Celli’s Past Conduct May Prove Him to Be a Murderer
This Hezitorial references the conduct described in the publication of February 17, 2014, with respect to minor renovations undertaken in May 2013 at Yonkers Fire Station 12, located at 75 Fortfield Avenue - “THE HEZITORIAL INVESTIGATION: A Sad Telling in the City of Yonkers - Asbestos at Yonkers Fire Station 12 By HEZI ARIS”,
The Hezitorial referenced above speaks to events as they transpired. Little as to how they came about, and even less with respect to the interaction between Joseph Celli, director of the Yonkers Office of General Services and his Manager Lenny Spano. The ramification of the harmful effects exposure to asbestos poisoning that should and could have been prevented has yet to be revealed. In contrast to that silence, in contrast to the silence over this issue, the Yonkers Tribune will no longer keep the issues under wraps. The prognosis is unknown. It may take two decades or so to learn if any negative and deleterious issues arise. Even so, nothing has been said about the predatory, domineering, bullying, and controlling conduct and demeanor of predator Celli and his placing Department of Public Works (DPW) workers and members of the Yonkers Fire Department (YFD) who work at Fire Station 12, as well as the family members, spouses and children, among other relatives, and business associates alike in harms way.
Not a a word or acknowledgment from Celli’s second in command Lenny Spano, his uncle Mayor Mike Spano, newly installed Yonkers Inspector General Brendan McGrath, Esq., DPW Commissioner Thomas Meier, Yonkers City Council President Liam McLaughlin, Teamsters Local 456 Business Agent Louis Picani, and none of the Yonkers City Councilmembership. Yonkers Corporation Counsel Michael Curti, Esq., is mum. The Yonkers Board of Ethics will not tackle this concern. At issue is why does Yonkers permit bullying predators to run roughshod and betray the trust over the people who maintain the function of the City of Hills. There is definitely much blame and responsibility borne among the silent in our midst.
Despite the silence of the past, there are witnesses to everything we do; both the good and the bad. This telling reveals the latter.
It all began in May 2013, when the Yonkers Fire Department (YFD), having earned a $200,000 grant to renovate Fire Station 12. Becoming aware of the grant, Joseph Celli, director of the Yonkers Office of General Services approached the YFD and asked them to incorporate the services of select, skilled Department of Public Works employees to do the job instead of using an outside contractor to improve all the firehouses in Yonkers. The argument was that the DPW workers, under Celli’s auspices, guidance, and scrutiny would allow more workers to broaden their skills. In a sense, employing the DPW workers would be a win, win all around. The YFD, eager to work with their compatriots at DPW readily agreed. Celli’s convincing “spiel” would prove to be a fraud.
Joe Celli used the business agreement to foster patronage and favor on mostly unqualified workers to rob the fire department of the renovation effort for which they were engaged. Celli gave those workers overtime everyday at the firehouse with absolutely no supervision. The workers lacked knowledge and skills required for the job they were said to be skilled at and they consequently got bored very quickly. Even those that had some idea of what was to be done quickly tired of their effort. They had nothing to do; they had no guidance and no training. The interest to get the job done would soon be lost to finding something to do. The “crew” eventually stopped working, but the overtime pay kept accruing. While the Firefighters were completing their inspection rounds in the area during the daytime , the DPW crew would eat the snacks purchased by the Firefighters, leaving a mess that had to be cleaned up by the Firefighters upon their return. The DPW crew watched television. They were bored silly.
The unsupervised conduct continued until some workers began to turn overtime down because they realized the Firefighters were completely fed up with their pointless presence in the firehouse.
Celli continued to employ workers who spent time at Firehouse 12 for earning overtime, nothing more. This became evident when the $200,000 grant was quickly reaching depletion and the renovation effort was nowhere near being completed. Those employed had no idea what they were to do and they no longer cared. Celli was delinquent in not teaching those he employed to learn the skills necessary to complete the project as he initially said they could. YFD has Joe Celli to thank for talking them into hiring workers who did not know how to repair the much-needed repairs in all of Yonkers Firehouses. The overtime handed out by Joe Celli became more of an after hours hangout consisting of playing pool, throwing darts, and sleeping in the firemen’s lounge by general services finest.
Then came the revelation of the asbestos problem. Once again, thanks to a lack supervision and the lack of knowledge required for the job, everyone who had contact at Firehouse 12 and those that would come in contact with them were potentially at risk of asbestos poisoning, even death.
Joe Celli told his workers that the Firefighter’s sleeping dormitory flooring tile had to be ripped up and removed. Without supervision, the workers did as they were told; for a week’s time, they began to rip up and remove the floor tile. They placed the ripped up tiles filled with asbestos into black bags and dumped the bags at Yonkers City Dump as if it were “normal” garbage, which should not have been disposed of like normal garbage. Approximately one month after the floor was ripped up, some Firefighters questioned why the asbestos laden tiles were removed. Some of the Firefighters knew that asbestos could have been present in the removed tiles and that asbestos residue was likely left behind. The Firefighter took air samples in the room in which the tiles once were and asbestos was found to be present in that environment. The “air test” was done a month or so after the tile was ripped up. Firefighters were sleeping in that room all that time. No new flooring was ever applied.
Word got to Joe Celli that asbestos was found in that room and he allegedly ordered workers to duct tape the doors of the room with signs that read keep out. About four months passed and the doors were still not taped shut and no asbestos was removed. Asbestos remained in the firehouse for about five months until finally, an asbestos removing company showed up to remove the asbestos from the contaminated room.
There will be some who will not care about the potential harm and possible death this may cause the workers employed at Fire Station 12, the Firefighters assigned to that station, their spouses and children, friends, or associates. Asbestos adheres to clothing, skin, and fills lungs with every breath taken. Firefighters and the workers assigned to the renovation job were betrayed by Joe Celli either because he was ignorant of what was required to complete the job correctly or because her didn’t care. But there may be financial concerns.
One has to wonder how much the asbestos removal company cost the taxpayers of Yonkers? Asbestos removal is not cheap because it is a deadly and lethal material that must be handled with prescribed standards and protocol. What was the total cost for the incompetence and lack of responsibility by Celli in exacting his responsibilities?
Not only did Joe Celli not advise the Firefighters to evacuate the building once he knew of the asbestos and immediately engage the services of an asbestos removal company, he continued to send his own workers there to work on repairs in other rooms for an additional five months. It took five months for Joe Celli to recognize the deadly material his untrained and unsupervised workers were exposed to and that they and the Firefighters, and their respective families were in harms way. No excuse given by Joe Celli is acceptable. He betrayed his responsibilities. He is a thug who continues to earn $140,000 per annum. Is that the price for a responsible servant of the public trust or is that the price for a killer? Does Yonkers need a murderer within our midst?