And, he added, “integrity!” Said one resident: “he doesn’t take care of this building or the building around the corner, and he’s going to take care of a mosque?”
Indeed, the backers of the most aggressive, insensitive, and insulting development project in recent history have shown themselves to be breathtakingly incompetent in all things real estate: we’ve seen the eviction of Sharif el-Gamal for non-payment of rent, back taxes owed by the same thug on the mosque property, the revelation that the mega-mosque backers don’t even own all the land they intend to build on, and now this.
Meanwhile, in Union City, New Jersey, residents will be the first to observe that platitudes about peace don’t clear up the toxic hazard of a mold infestation, wipe out the bedbugs, fix the sprinkler system and fire alarms, or pay the officers who are working overtime to watch the properties in case one catches fire, so Rauf’s tenants don’t die.
But… “peace.” You just remember that, and turn that frown upside-down. “Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Rauf is a no-show in New Jersey court,” by Tom Topousis for the New York Post, September 15 (thanks to Twostellas):
While the Imam behind plans for a mosque near Ground Zero was jetting around the globe and advocating for his Downtown project, a pair of dilapidated apartment buildings he owns in New Jersey fell into such disrepair that cops have to stand watch in the event of a fire.
The fire watch, at taxpayer expense, was revealed during a court hearing today when Union City lawyers asked to have two buildings owned by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf placed into receivership so that rents could be used to fix dozens of violations, including inoperable alarms and sprinklers.
Rauf skipped today’s hearing as did his wife Daisy Khan. Their lawyer, Tomas Espinosa, said he didn’t know why the Imam didn’t come to court.
Never mind the imminent danger to the tenants, Rauf and Daisy are stressed out:
“There have been a lot of stress on these people,” Espinosa said when asked after the hearing to explain why Rauf was a no-show “The legal process will show that my client is an honorable man that has taken care of his property.”
Asked why he was confident that Rauf would prevail, Espinosa said of the Imam, “There is integrity and character,” adding, “He is a man of peace.”
If he’s a man of integrity, he should go live in one of his slums — after all, if they’re apparently okay for the people who live there, they should be good enough for Rauf and his wife.
For that matter, a man of integrity would have set his own proverbial house in order before rushing headlong into Lower Manhattan. But such things can’t wait for the impulses of Islamo-hubris.
But Union City officials insist Rauf is a slumlord.
Christine Vanek, a lawyer for Union City, said cops were put on fire watch rather than evict tenants from 16 apartments in one of the buildings after a Sept. 7 inspection determined there was an imminent hazard. Rauf, she said, did not respond to an order to hire a private fire patrol.
“The city immediately put a police officer there and sent a detail officer, which means we have to pay over-time,” Vanek said of putting an extra cop on duty just to watch Rauf’s building. She did not say how much it is costing Union City, and other officials did not return calls for that information.
Espinosa, however, said he was told a fire alarm contractor has been working at the building and is putting together a plan to fix the alarms and sprinklers.
But Judge Thomas Olivieri bristled when Espinosa said he had no documents to show what work was done or what might be planned and then asked the judge for more time “to come here with a total picture of what has been done.”
“The allegation here is that nothing has been done,” Olivieri said. “The city is spending taxpayer money to put a fire person, man or woman, at the building that is occupied to monitor it so that there’s not a fire that occurs.”
Olivieri then blasted Espinosa for coming to court empty-handed.
“There is no reason whatsoever, none, in the last 48 hours why your client could not have submitted something to you that hyou [sic] could have submitted to the court. this is serious. I am somewhat suprrised [sic] that I have nothing from the defense — nothing.
“And I reject that you were busy and they were busy,” the judge said….
There is more at the Post’s website. More on what’s wrong with Rauf’s slums: “Residents of N.J. building owned by imam in Ground Zero clash have list of complaints,” by Bob Considine for the Star-Ledger, September 15 (thanks to Ron):
In the third-floor Union City apartment where Paola Leiva and Wendy Lopez live, the back wall of the tiny shower is stripped of its tiles and covered by a black garbage bag. Mold is everywhere. In the ceiling, there’s a hole the size of a fist.
“It’s from leaking in the bathroom,” Leiva said. “It’s a big problem. The kids cannot take a shower. I pay the rent every month, but I don’t know why the guy never come to fix it.”
Today, The Star-Ledger was permitted access to one of the 16 apartments at 2206 Central Ave., a building owned by Feisal Abdul Rauf. Multiple, unaddressed complaints of leaks, mold, bedbug and rodent infestation and fire hazards at the dwelling are why Union City is suing Rauf, the imam leading efforts to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center, Mayor Brian Stack said.
The city claims Rauf, named as the sole officer of Sage Development LLC, has failed to properly maintain two apartment buildings at the corner of Central Avenue and 22nd Street. It is asking the court to appoint custodial receivership that would collect rents and apply the funds to correct repairs and hazards, while also settling fines imposed by the city.
Rauf has not been available for comment, but he and/or his attorney are scheduled to appear for a hearing in Superior Court in Jersey City. Some tenants say they are eager to hear whether their complaints will be heard.
As the Post said above, Rauf didn’t show.
“I’ve been here since the building opened (in 1990) and it hasn’t been peaceful with this owner,” said Cindy Balko, who lives on the first floor. “He cares nothing about the people who live in this building. Not a thing.”
Balko did not allow The Star-Ledger access to her apartment, but complained of “leaks galore” and said she has asked for repairs repeatedly over the past eight months. She also said her complaints were not motivated by the imam’s controversial position to build the mosque.
“It’s fine and dandy that he can build a mosque,” Balko said. “But he doesn’t take care of this building or the building around the corner, and he’s going to take care of a mosque?”
The Star-Ledger was allowed inside the apartment shared by Leiva and Lopez and their children. In addition to the mold and leaky bathroom, the living room window did not have any child-safety protection. Leiva said she had made a request for such protection with the landlord, but it has gone unheeded in the eight months she has lived in the building.
Inside the building, the yellow-colored hallways were clean, although there was a musty odor. Repairs were being made to a hallway light. On Monday, signs were posted on all residents’ doors that a fumigation for bedbugs would take place Sept. 18.
A second adjacent building that Rauf owns, at 618 22nd St., which once had 32 apartments, has been vacant since a fire on Feb. 8, 2008. Union City says it issued 12 fire code violations Rauf ignored prior to the fire. It also said Rauf boarded up the building and barred residents from their apartments after the fire, rather than address previous violations.
Although Stack singled Rauf out as the city’s worst landlord, Union City spokesman Mark Albeiz said the city files similar lawsuits against other landlords “several times a year.”…