As Housing Advocates Fume, City Council Said To Have Investigation Into Heating Systems And Lead Safety That "Could Entangle City Hall"

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was outrage Monday from New York City Housing Authority tenants and housing advocates over smoking gun emails that show Mayor Bill de Blasio misleading the public about the extent of lead poisoning in public housing.

The pictures — the layers of paint that fall into the bathtub; a pipe so rusty layers of crud hang off — are emblematic of a lead paint problem in NYCHA apartments that cry out for help.

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But new emails released by City Hall show that Mayor de Blasio apparently tried to hide the extent of the problem from the public, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

“It’s a mockery of transparency and if you cannot be trusted to tell the truth about something as critical as lead safety then what can you be trusted to tell the truth about?” Bronx City Councilman Ritchie Torres said.

nycha lead paint City Hall Releases Emails That Appear To Show Mayor Tried To Hide Extent Of Lead Paint Problem In NYCHA Housing

Lead paint inside a NYCHA building (Photo: CBS2)

Torres is furious about the fact that when the lead paint scandal blew up amid disclosures that NYCHA lied about doing inspections, Mayor de Blasio purposely downplayed played it, saying that between 2014 and 2016 “four children in NYCHA tested positive for elevated lead levels.”

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But an email sent to “B” — that’s the mayor’s City Hall moniker — from aide Wiley Norvell, who was seen walking into City Hall on Monday, shows that the day before he said there were only four cases Norvell told him there were 202 cases across 133 apartments.

A City Hall spokesperson pointed out that the 202 cases were from a different time period — 2010 to 2015.

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But while he had that information, the mayor didn’t make it public, going instead with the lesser number.

“The council has an ongoing investigation into both the heating systems and the lead safety program at NYCHA and the investigation could entangle City Hall, itself, so stay tuned,” Torres said.

Tenants and advocates are also outraged. Danny Barber is president of NYCHA’s citywide “Council of Presidents.”

“He lied. He outright lied and if was anybody else that lied they would be locked up and put into jail. We’re tired of it. The mayor should be held accountable,” NYCHA’s Danny Barber said.

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“It’s very deceitful, first and foremost. It’s only to protect his image so he doesn’t get bad marks against who he is and the national agenda that he set,” community advocate Tony Herbert said.

A spokesperson for the mayor insists de Blasio is determined to deal with the lead paint problem the same way he has used Vision Zero to reduce traffic fatalities.

“The city is developing an aggressive new plan to achieve this,” she said.