The Daily News’ Tuesday exposé on the “toxic work environment” fostered by NYCHA general manager Vito Mustaciuolo is rocking the nation’s largest public housing authority, torpedoing the confidence of elected officials in a public servant touted as top of the line just last year.
The Daily News reported that Mustaciuolo allegedly “belittles and undermines women at the agency, often screaming and swearing at them without provocation,” using his position of authority to intimidate female subordinates and going so far as to make those he supervises cry when questioning his decisions.
One example cited in the piece, which included seven current or former NYCHA employees as sources, depicted Mustaciuolo as using a woman’s husband and baby against her when she questioned a professional decision he had made. “This felt like a threat that I would lose my job if I didn’t agree with Vito’s decision,” the woman told the Daily News.
The city’s political class is now calling for an investigation into Mustaciuolo’s behavior, a marked contrast from the extensive praise he received when he was appointed to the general manager position 19 months ago. Mayor de Blasio called Mustaciuolo “a dedicated public servant who will fight hard for NYCHA residents,” while City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called him “an incredible person.” The mayor’s office said on Tuesday that an investigation had been commenced, and Johnson called the allegations “troubling,” according to the Daily News.
“No one is too important to discipline,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, the chair of the public housing committee, in a statement to Bklyner. “While facing this public housing crisis, we have to put our best foot forward, which means senior officials like Mr. Mustaciuolo must conduct the people’s work with the utmost integrity. These are troubling accusations and we need to get to the bottom of this because families are relying on us.”
In a statement, NYCHA spokesperson Chester Soria said that the allegations will be investigated. “While we have received no formal complaints, we take these allegations seriously. We’ll ensure they are promptly and thoroughly investigated.”