The problems, whether real or perceived, continue to mount at the New York City Department of Buildings, this time with the arrest of the chief crane inspector on Friday on charges of accepting bribes. The inspector, Robert Delayo, oversaw the Division of Cranes and Derricks and was accused by the city’s Department of Investigations with accepting thousands of dollars in bribes.
Delayo is the second inspector to be charged with criminal misconduct in the wake of a crane accident, though unlike the previous case, his actions are believed to be unrelated to the crane collapse that occurred a week prior to his arrest. Still, the 60-year-old Bronx resident who has worked at the department since 1982 was charged with a number of serious crimes, including bribes involving inspections that were never carried out and providing advance copies of tests to be administered to crane operators. Delayo, who earns $74,224 per year, had been taking the bribes over the past eight years.
The mood within the Bloomberg administration, which has been hammered over the department’s recent blemishes, was one of astonishment and betrayal. “I'm outraged by today’s news,” Robert LiMandri, the acting DOB commissioner, said in a statement. “Employees who violate our Code of Conduct tarnish the reputation of our many hard-working employees at the Buildings Department.”
The mayor was quick to remind the public that much good had also been done by the department in recent years. “The Department of Buildings has made enormous strides in rooting out corruption over the past six years, but this case underscores that there remains more work to do,” Bloomberg said. Clearly that is the expectation, as nearly every commenter on sites like Curbed, Gothamist, and The New York Times seethed over the news, holding the mayor largely to blame.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, whose turf has been hardest hit by the fallout from the building boom, said the arrest was "stunning and frightening." He then called for a top-down review of the department’s operations, including newly drafted ones, before any new changes take effect.
A number of architects contacted by AN who are or have recently worked on tall buildings in the city all declined to comment about their feelings toward working on such projects, both in general and at altitude. This reticence could stem from their reluctance to offend clients, but it could also be considered a barometer in its own right.
“You know how long I’ve been talking about these issues?” Tony Avella, the Queens council member and frequent DOB critc, told AN. “When I first started talking about this, everyone would chastise me for it. Now, most of them agree.”
“It’s unfortunate that I’ve been totally vindicated,” he added. “It just never ends.