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Elected officials blast NYCHA general manager Vito Mustaciuolo’s allegedly toxic behavior after Daily News expose

2019-08-29

General Manager of NYCHA Vito Mustaciuolo (Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News)

Elected officials on Wednesday called for an investigation into NYCHA general manager Vito Mustaciuolo after some former and ex-staffers accused him of creating a toxic workplace for women.

Mustaciuolo cultivated a uncomfortable work environment that’s helped drive away high-level staffers, according to current and former NYCHA employees who told Daily News that he belittles, berates and bullies women working for the authority.

Mayor de Blasio’s office said Wednesday that the city has already begun an investigation into the allegations of abuse and mistreatment against women outlined in The News’ expose.

“Someone who behaves this way has no business in leadership or government. If true, he must be IMMEDIATELY fired,” U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D - N.Y.) tweeted, linking to one incident described by The News where Mustaciuolo allegedly mocked public housing tenants by suggesting those with a horrifying rat infestation were “dirty.”

“I could say the tenants were dirty if I were black, but I can’t,” he had said, according to a former NYCHA employee present for the remark.

Current and former employees said Mustaciuolo expects “deferential” treatment. Some said they were told by NYCHA officials that he was too important to the agency to discipline and that they needed to keep him happy.

“The reported allegations against NYCHA General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo are inexcusable, and what is even more abhorrent is the apparent compliance of senior staff in enabling this kind of behavior. Not only do Mustaciuolo’s alleged actions create an unsafe and unhealthy work environment for women and other employees, it impedes the work of NYCHA at a time when it is so desperately in need of compassionate, intentional leadership to support its tenants,” Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester) said in a statement Wednesday. “I am holding Mayor Bill de Blasio to his word, and call for a thorough investigation into the allegations immediately.”

At least 18 high-level authority staffers – 14 of them women – have quit or been forced out since de Blasio made Mustaciuolo NYCHA’s general manager in 2018.

Current and former NYCHA staffers say that Mustaciuolo’s often unprofessional management style is at least partially to blame. They say he screams and swears at women at the authority without provocation, and once wondered aloud if a subordinate had a boyfriend during an official meeting.

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None of the former NYCHA staffers who spoke to The News filed lawsuits, Equal Employment Opportunity or human rights complaints against Mustaciuolo. They said they feared retribution and leaving NYCHA was simply easier.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the allegations are “troubling.”

“All City of New York employees deserve to be treated with respect and dignity," Johnson (D-Manhattan) said. "A full investigation is warranted.”

Comptroller Scott Stringer said: “These allegations are absolutely unacceptable and must be thoroughly investigated. If they’re found to be true, he must be held accountable.”