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NYC Mayor Appoints 'Recovery Czar'

Thursday, February 25, 2021

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Earlier this week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced Lorraine Grillo as the Senior Advisor for Recovery. Grillo, who is currently the Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and CEO of the New York City School Construction Authority, will transition from those roles into her appointment as “Recovery Czar,” effectively immediately.

“New York City was hit with an unprecedented health care and economic crisis. Together, we’re taking unprecedented steps to drive a recovery for all of us,” said de Blasio. “As New York City’s first-ever Recovery Czar, Lorraine will cut through bureaucracy, coordinate across all agencies, and reach out to non-profit and private partners to make sure our recovery is felt in every borough, every neighborhood, and every block.”

In this position, Grillo’s goal is to coordinate with government agencies, nonprofits and the private sector to work toward New York City’s recovery. Working with the New York City Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, Grillo will also build on her work for minority-and women-owned businesses (MWBE).

OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images

Earlier this week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced Lorraine Grillo as the Senior Advisor for Recovery. Grillo, who is currently the Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and CEO of the New York City School Construction Authority, will transition from those roles into her appointment as “Recovery Czar,” effectively immediately.

In addition, Grillo will work directly with de Blasio to lead a recovery “war room” that will convene leaders across government for regular progress on recovery efforts.

“I build things. That’s what I do. And together, we are going to build a recovery that lifts up every New Yorker,” said Grillo. “Every job I’ve had serving the people of New York City, from responding to Hurricane Sandy to expanding universal Pre-K, has required an intense coordination across different agencies, companies and non-profits. That’s the same aggressive approach I’m going to take to lead a recovery for all of us.”

About Grillo

Grillo began her career at the New York City School Construction Authority 25 years ago as a community relations specialist. Since then she has held a variety of positions within the agency including Director of Government and Community Relations, Senior Director of Real Estate Services and then Executive Director/Chief of Staff to the President. She took over as acting president and CEO in May 2010.

She then successfully opened 26 new schools which, at the time, was the single most successful year in SCA history. She was then appointed President and CEO. In February 2014, de Blasio reappointed her to her position making her one of only two reappointments from the prior administration and the longest serving SCA president.

Over the past decade, Grillo has built more than 80,000 K-12 school seats and more 9,000 universal Pre-K seats. She has coordinated almost 4,000 capital improvement projects NYC buildings and has managed a total of $28 billion in budgets. Her team was also responsible for the reopening of 71 schools damaged by Hurricane Sandy in record time.

“It is excellent news for New York City and working people across the five boroughs that Lorraine Grillo will serve as the city’s Recovery Czar,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

“Lorraine’s honest and meticulous approach to her work, and the determination, drive, and passion she brings to every project or job she’s tasked with is what New York City needs to recover from this economic crisis. We look forward to closely partnering with Lorraine as we work towards lifting our great city out from the many challenges and hardships created by the pandemic.”

NY COVID-19 Background

At the end of April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his plan for reopening the state in the several phases; construction and manufacturing started off Phase 1.

The plan is to be implemented in phases based on regional analysis and recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which say that once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate of COVID-19 cases, the area can begin reopening.

At the time of the announcement, Cuomo noted that the state would be “closely monitoring the hospitalization rate, the infection rate and the number of positive antibody tests, as well as the overall public health impact and will make adjustments to the plan and other decisions based on these indicators.”

Along with construction and manufacturing, agriculture, wholesale trade and curbside and in-store retail pickup were all also reopened.

The city estimates about 3,700 manufacturing companies, 16,000 non-essential retails business and 23,000 construction sites have been reopened.

In order to reopen, businesses had to certify with the state that they could abide by new safety regulations.

“In the construction industry, by the nature of the tasks that are at hand, it’s not always possible to social distance,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, in an interview with The New York Times.

The unions reached an agreement with contractors and developers to mitigate risk, he said, including staggered shifts, altered start times and more flexible hours, like a four-day workweek with 10-hour days.

During the suspension of nonessential work, the Department of Buildings had been fining violators up to $10,000. Now, the inspectors will be visiting every job site in the city.

On June 8, New York City began opening up nonessential construction sites as directed by the phased reopening, which let an estimated 400,000 workers return to construction and manufacturing sites.

For the first 30 days the DOB provided guidance on how to fix noncompliance instead of citations.

At the end of July, the city reported that, during the first days of enforcing COVID-19 safety regulations on construction sites, New York City’s Department of Buildings issued 88 citations, which included 41 stop work orders, according to reports.

Andrew Rudanksy, press secretary for the DOB, said in a interview at the time that NYC received 6,127 complains against contractors for possible COVID-19-related jobsite violations since March 30.

Despite the numbers, the spokesperson said that largely, construction workers in the city have been compliant with all of the safety protocols since the reopening.

“A large chunk of the construction industry was really paying attention to what New York City went through the past couple months and took the pandemic and trying to slow the spread of the pandemic very seriously,” he said.

Rudansky noted at the time that the DOB—which uses Geographic Information System technology (an interactive mapping tool) to guide inspectors to the city’s 40,000 jobsites—is also relying heavily on calls from residents to 311.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; COVID-19; Economy; Good Technical Practice; Government; Jobs; NA; North America

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