[Marxism] Columbia hit with 59 code violations since campus expansion

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Mar 24 07:46:18 MDT 2012


Columbia hit with 59 code violations since campus expansion
Work shut down 13 times since 2010

By Greg B. Smith AND Corky Siemaszko / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, March 23, 2012, 10:10 PM

THE TRAGIC death of a hardhat who was demolishing a building owned by 
Columbia University came after the school and its contractors racked up 
a slew of safety complaints, the Daily News has found.

The Ivy League institution has been hit with 59 code violations and has 
been forced to shut down work 13 times since launching its controversial 
campus expansion two years ago, building records show.

The complaints were spread across the 64 properties located on the 
17-acre site, which runs from 125th to 133rd Sts., and between 12th Ave. 
and Broadway.

Workers were flagged for everything from improperly removing fire 
sprinklers to blocking fire exits and failing to shore up listing walls, 
the records show.

In fact, as city inspectors picked through the ruins of the warehouse on 
W. 131st St. where 69-year-old Juan Ruiz was killed Thursday, a tipster 
warned that a wall on another Columbia-owned building a block away was 
close to giving way, The News has learned.

Columbia spokeswoman Victoria Benitez declined to discuss the deadly 
collapse or the prior violations, citing the ongoing Buildings 
Department probe.

“Their official determination of the facts is an essential step in the 
process,” she said.

Ruiz — and the two workers who survived the building collapse — were 
employed by Breeze National, a Brooklyn-based outfit that was headed for 
years by Lucchese crime family associate Toby Romano. Breeze officials 
say his son now runs the company.

City inspectors suspect the collapse was caused when a worker sliced 
through a support beam.

Breeze, however, said that horizontal beam was spliced to another beam. 
And it was the bolts connecting the two pieces that failed.

Ruiz was the second worker to die during construction of Columbia’s new 
$6.4 billion campus.

Jozef Wilk, a 51-year-old Polish immigrant who also worked for Breeze, 
fell to his death while demolishing another Columbia-owned building on 

King Range, 60, and Sakim Kirby, 30, the two workers who survived the 
collapse that killed Ruiz, were both in stable condition at St. Luke’s 

Kirby’s dad said his son is in a lot of pain.

“It’s surreal,” he said. “I want to know what happened and who is 
responsible for what happened to my son.”

With Henrick Karoliszyn

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