[Marxism] Libertarian/mafia company has blood on its hands

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 23 07:34:32 MDT 2007


(This week 2 firemen died in the Deutsch Bank building, which was 
adjacent to the WTC and in the process of being demolished. The name of 
the company under contract to do the demolition was named after the hero 
of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and its executives were part of the 
mafia. In other words, perfect symbols of the free enterprise system.)

NY Times, August 23, 2007
Obscure Company Is Behind 9/11 Demolition Work
By CHARLES V. BAGLI, DAVID W. DUNLAP and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM

The John Galt Corporation of the Bronx, hired last year for the 
dangerous and complex job of demolishing the former Deutsche Bank 
building at 130 Liberty Street, where two firefighters died last 
Saturday, has apparently never done any work like it. Indeed, Galt does 
not seem to have done much of anything since it was incorporated in 1983.

Public and private records give no indication of how many employees it 
has, what its volume of business is or who its clients are. There are 
almost no accounts of any projects it has undertaken on any scale, apart 
from 130 Liberty Street. Court records are largely silent. Some leading 
construction executives in the city say they have never even heard of it.

That may not be as surprising as it seems. John Galt, it appears, is not 
much more than a corporate entity meant to accommodate the people and 
companies actually doing the demolition job at the emotionally charged 
and environmentally hazardous site at the edge of ground zero.

The companies and project managers who have been providing the 
expertise, the workers and the financing for the job are Regional 
Scaffolding and Hoisting Company, which is not in business to demolish 
skyscrapers, and former executives from Safeway Environmental 
Corporation, a company that was already removed from one contract at 130 
Liberty because of concerns about its integrity.

Using a separate corporation to insulate the assets of a parent company 
from the enormous potential liabilities of demolition work is not itself 
unusual. And challenging construction projects in the city often have 
several companies come together in a joint effort.

The arrangement involving Galt — achieved after multiple companies that 
had bid on the Deutsche Bank contract were eliminated for one reason or 
another — is nonetheless odd for such a momentous job, one that is 
expected ultimately to cost roughly $150 million.

The arrangement, never fully publicly disclosed, was proposed by the 
general contractor charged with overseeing the demolition, Bovis Lend 
Lease, and approved by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, 
which owns 130 Liberty Street.

Yesterday, Bovis announced that it had declared Galt in default on the 
bank building contract, saying the outfit Bovis had selected had failed 
“to live up to terms of its contract with respect to site supervision, 
maintenance and project safety.” One person who has spoken to Bovis 
executives, but who was not authorized to speak for the company, said it 
was likely that Galt would be formally fired within the week.

When officials at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation approved 
Galt’s participation, they even allowed two former senior Safeway 
executives to join the operation at the Deutsche Bank building on 
several conditions, including that they cooperate with an investigation 
being conducted by the city’s Department of Investigation.

In the 17 months since Galt took shape — and as problems mounted at the 
demolition site, including repeated safety violations — city and state 
officials have made announcements about the work and problems at 130 
Liberty referring to John Galt as if it were a fully established 
corporation, and never mentioning by name the more controversial and 
less than perfectly qualified people and companies doing the work.

(John Galt, by the way, is a central character, an engineer, in Ayn 
Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.” The book begins with this line: “Who is 
John Galt?”)

John Galt’s stationery puts its headquarters at 3900 Webster Avenue in 
the Bronx, near Woodlawn Cemetery, the same address as Regional 
Scaffolding’s. The two companies also share many of the same officers.

Greg Blinn, who is shown in city records as the president of the John 
Galt Corporation, said in a telephone interview: “I’m not really sure 
how I can help. My contract precludes me from talking to the media. I 
have to refer all questions or inquiries to the L.M.D.C.”

Daniel L. Doctoroff, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, 
who was a member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation at the 
time it approved the Galt contract, said through a spokesman this week 
that safeguards had been put in place to make sure that the former 
Safeway executives did nothing inappropriate — like funnel money back to 
Safeway.

Those safeguards included enlisting the help of an integrity monitor who 
would scrutinize, among other things, Galt’s hiring, purchases and 
financial transactions.

The complicated nature of the arrangement on the demolition job resulted 
to a great extent from the difficulty Bovis and the state had in 
attracting any contractors interested in, or capable of, performing the 
novel and high-profile job.

It is not hard to understand why most contractors — particularly during 
a building boom, when they can pick and choose work — would balk at 
doing a job involving hazardous materials under microscopic regulatory 
scrutiny for a governmental client whipsawed by demands that demolition 
go faster (so that ground zero redevelopment could proceed) and slower 
(to ensure that contaminants were not released into the neighborhood).

Add to that the extremely high cost of obtaining insurance for the work, 
and the lack of any meaningful precedent for the operation, and most 
companies would see a recipe for delay, escalating costs and shrinking 
profits.

Safeway first surfaced on the scene at 130 Liberty when it, along with 
Regional Scaffolding, won a $13 million scaffolding contract in 2005 for 
the bank building.

But Safeway, its former owners, Harold Greenberg, 61, and Stephen 
Chasin, 56, and another company they long operated, Big Apple Wrecking 
and Construction Corporation, had a troubled history.

Mr. Greenberg, of Staten Island, has gone to federal prison twice for 
crimes related to the industry.

Identified by federal investigators as a Gambino crime family associate, 
he was convicted in 1988 of bribing a federal inspector to overlook 
asbestos-removal violations while Big Apple was demolishing Gimbels 
department store on East 86th Street in Manhattan. Three years later he 
pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a bid-rigging scheme involving other 
contractors.

Safeway’s failure to disclose his criminal history and the accusations 
of mob ties led the authorities to bar the company from working on city 
schools in 2003. School investigators contended that Mr. Greenberg and 
his partner in Big Apple and Safeway, Mr. Chasin, sought to disguise 
their roles in companies in order to obtain public contracts and other 
work from which his convictions would bar them.

(Safeway Environmental was one of the subcontractors used in the 
development of a new headquarters for The New York Times, across Eighth 
Avenue from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.)

Neither Mr. Greenberg nor Mr. Chasin could be reached for comment. Calls 
left at their offices and homes were not returned.

The two former Safeway executives, Mitchel Alvo and Don Adler, declined 
to comment.

At the city’s insistence, Safeway was ultimately bounced from the 
scaffolding contract at the bank building.

Meanwhile, the effort to take down the building moved slowly, as 
litigation and fights over costs and responsibility dragged on.

By early 2006, though, Bovis, a multibillion-dollar global operation, 
had won the giant contract to oversee the demolition of the bank 
building. Seven contractors submitted bids to Bovis to do the demolition 
work under Bovis’s direction. Some, though, were deemed not qualified. 
Others dropped out.

That all opened the way for what was known as the John Galt Corporation.

“There was only one contractor willing to work on taking down the 
building, as far as I know,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

Thus began the negotiations to allow Galt to go forward and tackle the 
contaminated building. According to an agreement between the state and 
Bovis, John Galt was allowed to take on Mr. Alvo and Mr. Adler, the two 
former Safeway executives.

“A series of conditions were included in the contract at the direction 
of L.M.D.C. that prevented questionable individuals from working at this 
job or from having any association with John Galt,” said Mr. Doctoroff, 
the deputy mayor. “Once Galt and Bovis agreed to these stipulations, 
representatives on the L.M.D.C. board from the city joined their state 
counterparts and voted to approve the contract amendment to Bovis.”

According to the agreement, portions of which were shared with a 
reporter, neither John Galt nor Bovis could employ or use the services 
of any other senior executives, principals or owners of Safeway 
Environmental or two other companies, one of them Big Apple Wrecking.

The contractors also agreed to allow Mr. Alvo and Mr. Adler to cooperate 
with the city’s Department of Investigation in what was described in the 
agreement — without elaboration — as an ongoing investigation.

The presence of Mr. Alvo and Mr. Adler on the 130 Liberty Street project 
was not mentioned in the development corporation’s March announcement 
but was highlighted in a Daily News article on April 16, 2006.

John Galt, having done little, if any, work before the 130 Liberty 
Street project, did actually try to win another project shortly after 
starting work at the bank building.

It was the winning bidder for the demolition contract at the Bronx House 
of Detention in the summer of 2006. But it failed to obtain approval 
through the city’s contract review process and lost the job because, 
officials say, they learned that the city’s Department of Investigation 
had opened an investigation into John Galt.

“In July 2006, E.D.C. and the developer were made aware that D.O.I. had 
initiated an investigation of Galt that might delay a background 
clearance, so the developer instead used the next lowest bidder,” said 
Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city’s Economic Development 
Corporation.

Galt’s work at the Deutsche Bank building, however, went on unaffected.

Deputy Mayor Doctoroff said the city’s decision to deny Galt the Bronx 
contract did not obligate the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to 
re-examine whether Galt was the right company to be working at ground zero.




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